News will take a backseat to humor Tuesday night when the Capitol Press Corps presents the 60th edition of the sometimes Annual Press Skits; a tradition that began when the senior members of Florida’s political/media class were toddlers.
“It’s become ingrained in the culture of Tallahassee, said Steve Bousquet, appearing in his 21st Press Skits show. “You almost have to be a part of Tallahassee to get the jokes and they serve as sort of a release valve for lawmakers and reporters often caught in an adversarial relationship – I mean, they get to take shots at us as well.”
The Press Skits is a peculiar Tallahassee tradition where politicians and reporters bond while acting out their Catskill’s Borscht-Belt fantasies. (Despite’s this year’s sacrilegious perversion of a Neil Diamond standard. Although I do give a thumb’s up to the Rolling Stones’ parody).
Mary Ellen Klas observed a connection between lawmakers’ willingness to take part in a night of jokes at their expense and the ability to demonstrate “statesmanship” in the performance of their official duties.
That in turn almost demands more civility on the part of reporters as they go about fulfilling journalism’s mission to afflict the comfortable.
Klas and Bousquet have a long-running skit, “Eye-Witless News” in which, as co-anchors of a newscast, they skewer lawmakers, the process and the news media.
“We had some fun with it,” Senate President Andy Gardiner ominously told reporters last week about the videos lawmakers produced for the show.
The House brought down the house last year with a parody of a Snickers commercial where Democratic Leader Mark Pafford morphed into Speaker Will Weatherford.
The Senate produced a bizarre cooking with marijuana video featuring 1960s-style television special effects depicting being high.
No one has yet topped former Gov. Bob Graham’s farewell performance at the 1986 show. A term-limited Graham appeared on stage in a crisp white uniform and declared himself governor for life. Graham was followed on stage by the FAMU Marching 100, which played Hail to the Chief and When the Saints Go Marching as he strutted and exited the stage.
“It’s just a really fun event that allows us to bond while serving a good cause,” said Press Corps President Mitchell. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have increased our giving over the last two years to over $20,000 in scholarships each year. Our industry is evolving, but the Barbara Frye Scholarship helps us encourage and cultivate new journalists. And that wouldn’t happen without the Press Skits.
This past year 11 scholarships were awarded; you can read more about the scholarship and the recipients here.
The show is at 7 p.m. at the Moon Nightclub; doors open at 6.