Just for laughs

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Though this photo of Byko was taken at the 22nd annual event, this year's, on Aug. 21, will be similar - same or similar shirt, too.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Though this photo of Byko was taken at the 22nd annual event, this year's, on Aug. 21, will be similar - same or similar shirt, too.
Posted: June 24, 2013

WITH THE (lackluster) primary behind us, Philadelphia politicians now look ahead to two days - Election Day on Nov. 5, and the 23rd annual Candidates Comedy Night on Wednesday, Aug. 21. (Details below.)

This year's show will be small, with candidates for controller and district attorney - two Republican challengers and two Democratic incumbents. In past "off years," I have buttressed the show with Pennsylvania suburban candidates, but there are none of note this year.

You know the Democratic candidates, because they are the incumbents: Controller Alan Butkovitz and D.A. Seth Williams. The names you don't know are the Republicans - Terry Tracy for controller and Danny Alvarez for D.A. I had a brief get-to-know-you chat with each of them.

Alvarez, 35, a native Virginian, attended the Virginia Military Institute, loved the discipline and good academics, fell in love with the law and got his law degree from American University before coming to Philly, where he worked in the D.A.'s office from 2003 to 2011.

He lives in Somerton with his wife and two kids. When I asked him why their 6-year-old attends parochial school, he said: "I like schools where they teach about the Lord." Fair enough. Hours later, he sent an email regretting having given a "political answer."

What he said was true, but "I failed to acknowledge that I do not have faith in the Philadelphia public-school system, which is the other reason why Jake goes to Catholic school."

He was fortunate enough to attend good schools in Virginia. "That's not the case in the city, which is why things are the way they are," he said. "That won't change as long as we give political answers. Sorry for mine."

Apology accepted.

Running for his third term as controller, Democrat Butkovitz promises "more of the same" oversight of the "performance of city agencies, and nonperformance," such as L&I, response time of emergency vehicles and tax collection.

As for the show, he's done movie titles and a Top 10 list in the past and is looking for a muse.

His GOP opponent, Tracy, 30, lives in Fitler Square with his wife, Lynsey, and two Yorkshire terriers. (Lynsey is beginning to hint that it's time for a two-legged "pet," Tracy says.)

He got his B.A. in poli-sci from Temple and his master's in government administration at Penn's Fels Institute of Government.

As controller, he would "do exactly as the charter envisions," he says, "auditing every agency in city government, every year, so that city government in general and City Council in particular has the necessary financial and performance data with which to assess the effectiveness of our public-policy decisions."

He has more to say, but space is limited.

I put in a call to D.A. Williams, but either his office could not reach him or he couldn't get to me in time, whatever.

Those are the performers - this is a demonstration, not a competition - and the show will be staged (as usual) at Finnigan's Wake, 3rd and Spring Garden streets. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show begins at 8. Keeping the sequester in mind, tickets again will be $75 (tax-deductible), a table of 10 for $750. (Tables come with a "free" ad in the show program.)

As always, this benefits Variety, the Children's Charity. The running total is at $475,000 and I'd love to hit half a mil this year. (I'd also like to win a MacArthur genius grant. Which do you think is more likely?)

Checks should be made out to "Variety" and mailed to Variety, Comedy Show, 2nd floor, 1520 Locust St., Phila., Pa. 19102. For credit-card orders, call Eric Perry at 215-735-0803, ext. 11. Tables are assigned in the order that checks are received, so act fast.


Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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