“When I wrote the material tonight, OK, I thought there was going to be a whole bunch of brothas in the house, but it's all skinny, progressive, urban, young millenials,” Muschett said, pausing before his punchline — an off-color joke about Mel Gibson, delivered a little too quietly to be heard over the excited crowd. He stood at the head of a 12-seat table scattered with beer cans and cocktail glasses and surrounded by Senate sergeant-at-arms employees who came out to Chinatown's RFD bar to support their longtime co-worker. Muschett claims his "Caucasian Skills" routine — promoted to friends and acquaintances on Capitol Hill via flyers, his website and his @SenateComedian Twitter presence — was coined by comedian Dave Chappelle. Quick-talking and deprecating, Muschett is sometimes likened to Rodney Dangerfield, but he's got an overtly political angle.
"I do this basically as a Democrat with a spine to eviscerate political correctness," Muschett told CQ Roll Call prior to taking the stage. "That is the torch that I carry."
Muschett made a career as a legislative staffer before joining the SAA's office in October 2001. He interned for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., then worked for former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., before transitioning into foreign policy work on the House side. When 9/11 hit, he felt inspired to switch paths.
"Being in the Senate so long is what made me a stand-up comedian — to preserve my sanity," he said about the improv performances he began doing in about 2006. Asked if he cracks jokes to the reporters and senators he interacts with while guarding the chamber, Muschett joked: "I do have mortgage payments, so I'll be careful what I say.
"I love my job," he added.
The Thursday night show organized by District Comedy included 15 comics, each allotted about five minutes on the stage. Prior to the show, the crowd of about 60 people was given a disclaimer: You're in the wrong place if you can't handle George Carlin's "seven dirty words," and you're expected to clap.
Muschett and his crew of Capitol Hill co-workers were some of the most enthusiastic members of the audience. They heartily clapped, whistled and called out responses when comics asked for audience participation (and even sometimes when they didn't).
Eventually, "Mr. Caucasian Skills" was called to the mic. After the prerequisite applause died down, he launched into a chant: "Say it loud: I'm fat and I'm proud!"
"That's right," he bellowed, jiggling his belly as he bounced on the short riser erected along the back wall of the bar. After a brief shoutout to his loyal fans, and the show's host, he continued: "It's fun that we can all come together tonight to celebrate the diversity — the diversity of my obesity.”
Next, Muschett wanted to know: “Where’s the brothas? ... Where's my brothas at?” Then there was a headcount of Republicans. The next question: "Where my Republican brothas at?"
Two men at his table, one white, raised their hands. Next question: "Where are the Hispanics up in here?"
There was plenty of laughter when Muschett described a recent trip to Guatemala where he, "a fat, white guy with a metal hip" tried to dance with a "seniorita." He wiggled his hips and mimicked a salsa beat. "To make a short story long, I think the Three Stooges and Mitt Romney at the Apollo would've had better fucking rhythm."
Muschett dropped in a couple jokes about the lack of minorities in the audience, then dedicated his final joke to a black friend who showed up shortly before the show began. He suggested that every white person in the audience was now offended. "Oh the minorities are laughing, now we have to laugh to prove we're not racist," he teased.
The final joke involved Jesus visiting an Irish bar in Boston to heal a "crippled" trio — "an Irishman, a Mexican and a brotha." The punchline, delivered to claps and applause: "Don't touch me, Jesus; I'm on disability."
Muschett exited the stage to some catcalls, mainly from his small group of friends, and returned to his seat with a wide grin on his face.
Assessing the vibe as the show drew to a close, Muschett told CQ Roll Call his five minutes in the limelight went "a hell of a lot better than I thought it would."