The Florida Senate’s creative use of music and a whimsical self-awareness among members of the Florida Cabinet were among the highlights of the 60th (Sometimes) Annual Capitol Press Corps Skits Tuesday night.
Reporters and politicos lampooned each other with the House and Attorney General Pam Bondi paying Times reporter Michael Van Sickler maybe the profession’s highest compliment – the jokes at his expense revealed they are really glad he’s leaving town for a gig downstate.
Tia Mitchell demanded attention with a performance as the minister of the First Missionary Church of Double talk and Sunshine law Violations, backed by a FAQ choir. Mitchell opened the show with a fan joke at Charlie Crist’s expense, “every diva needs one,” and a short stab at stand-up. Some of the jokes may have been flat but Mitchell exudes energy and good will and set the tone for much of what followed.
Matt Dixon’s portrayal of the governor’s chief of staff, Melissa Sellers, with a preschool teacher persona, was campy enough to work. And for the second year in a row John Kennedy displayed a remarkable ability with dialect, adopting a Jersey accent while conspiring with Sellers to have a problematic agency head “sleep with the fishes.”
Chris Dorworth returned to the Capitol in the House video, interviewing Speaker Steve Crisafulli. Dorworth could barely conceal his contempt for the man who moved into the speaker’s office after Dorworth lost a 2012 re-election bid. He consistently referred to the Speaker as “Chris Steveafulli” while denigrating the office. It was a beautiful illustration of the sour grapes idea.
The jokes at Crisafulli’s expense about his accidental speakership continued when state Rep. Richard Corcoran and aides are caught measuring the drapes in the speaker’s office.
State Rep. Jose Oliva simply nailed his role in a luxury car commercial. Oliva’s nonsensical musings, to paraphrase, “Sometimes I roll a small cigar so small it’s invisible,” then looking into the camera, “blows your mind,” were funny enough. When the commercial ended with a man jumping out of the back seat declaring, “this is the worst Uber ride ever” — that’s just good writing and execution.
State Sen. Rene Garcia starred in the Senate video. It featured a series of members driving in cars (apparently another Uber reference) singing along with music. The performances were funnier than the idea sounds — it takes an effort not to smile at the sight of state Sens. Bill Montford and Dwight Bullard singing Ebony and Ivory with grins stretching from ear-to-ear.
However, Garcia jamming to Bohemian Rhapsody exhibited the joy of music and humor, as did the twinkle in state Sen. Rob Bradley’s eye while he cruised the streets singing backup on an unidentified song.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s deadpan delivery while writing thank-you notes was an example of knowing one’s limitations and then making the most out of the tools at hand – Putnam thanked the FSU football team for diverting attention away from UF’s performance. The Ag Commish can deliver laughs.
CFO Jeff Atwater is known for his love of language – a running gag was the challenge Twitter presents him – exhibited by how sometimes his similes and metaphors leave one confused. Atwater pulled off a sight gag, nailing a ball to the wall.
The Governor’s Office video – and well, look guys, at least half of the reporters’ efforts didn’t work or dragged on far too long, making any laugh lines a forgotten memory. As Matt Galka as Coach Pafford would say, “there is always next year.”
One final note, Steve Bousquet led the cast in singing Small Town to close the show. The reworking of the John Cougar classic to a Tallahassee theme was poignant.
Given the state of the industry – layoffs and closings seem to be on a 30-year run – a song proclaiming a love of Tallahassee (a stand-in for the legislative process and journalism’s role in a civil society) captured the spirit of the evening.
Of course, Mitchell, the Capitol press corps president, would say I am wrong. That it was all about raising money for the Barbara Frye scholarship; so here’s the link where you can read about the 11 recipients awarded scholarships this year.