Humor on a Congressional Curve

Separating the ridiculous from the non-ridiculous with Alexandra Petri

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., CNN's Deirdre Walsh and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., yuk it up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

The Joke is to Be Like ...

Humor is sometimes the only way to deal with serious topics.

“This isn’t the universe I’m living in. This is something I should be watching on television and should be able to turn off and have no real-world consequences,” Washington Post opinion writer Alexandra Petri says in the latest Political Theater podcast

Things can get even weirder when powerful people like members of Congress get their comedy on, like at this week’s Washington Press Club Foundation Congressional Dinner, which features members joking at each other’s expense. 

Petri expands on the comedy rule of punching up, not down. “The joke is to be like: This is ridiculous; this is not ridiculous. Let’s protect the non-ridiculous thing.”

For life in contemporary Washington, there’s a lot of sorting to be done.

Listen to the full podcast:

The Pelosi Files

UNITED STATES - MARCH 7: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at the The National Museum of American History where she donated items representing her term as the first female Speaker of the House on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Items donated included her gavel, the tally sheet from her election as Speaker and a dress. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., donated some stuff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When most of us donate our stuff, we have no idea what happens to it after, the Old Town Mission Thrift Store sorts it. If Nancy Pelosi wants to know, though, she can check in with the Smithsonian. 

That’s because the first woman speaker and current House minority leader has donated five items marking her historical accomplishments to the nation’s attic, including the pantsuit she wore her first day as speaker and the gavel she received during the swearing-in ceremony.

Lindsey McPherson has the full story: Pelosi Donates Speaker Mementos to Smithsonian

Non-Stormy Daniels Porn Item


Not all the pornography news around Washington is about the president’s relationship with actress Stormy Daniels. Some of it is just about federal employees, despite it being either against the rules or against good judgement, watching porn at work.

A suitable for work story by Kellie Mejdrich: Porn Still Turning Up in Federal Workplaces Despite Congressional Ban

Everything’s Bigger

Texas officially kicked off the 2018 midterm election season with its Tuesday primary, setting the stage for 37 federal elections in the fall. 

Roll Call Elections Analyst Nathan Gonzales parses the results and writes that there is now more evidence of a Democratic surge gathering, despite some of the party's top recruits not making it past this first round. 

Read Nathan’s analysis and his race ratings changes: Texas Primaries Narrow the Democratic Field

The Kicker

UNITED STATES - MARCH 06: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his way to meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the Capitol on March 06, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently knows the “If I’m talking on my phone I don’t have to respond to reporters’ questions” trick. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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