Morella, Davis Throw Zingers at Norton Roast
On Wednesday night, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was, for once, the center of attention. The Washington, D.C., Democrat played the dual roles of honoree and lightning rod for jokes at an event Wednesday night at the U.S. Navy Memorial titled ‘Roasting and Toasting Miss Eleanor,’ a comedy show put on by Hexagon, the popular D.C. theater troupe that specializes in political satire. The event featured original skits and songs by Hexagon, as well as speeches from several well-known District figures, such as former Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Connie Morella (R-Md.), D.C. Councilman Jack Evans and others. Norton, sitting front and center, was a good sport throughout the night. And, as she admits, she’s had some practice being the brunt of jokes, many of them focused on the District’s lack of voting rights in Congress. ‘How [Hexagon] got this idea to roast Eleanor is beyond me, but when you consider that I have taken a lot of roasting on the Colbert Report, I’ve been used to it,’ Norton said in an interview before the show. Norton has a long-standing relationship with Hexagon: She has performed in several scripted skits with the organization during its annual Congress Night show. Norton was far from the only target for jokes. The national media received its share of the satire, and tea party activists, former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and other GOP leaders were frequent sources of laughter. One of the highlights of the night was a skit titled ‘Holmesless in D.C.,’ in which a John Boehner look-alike ‘ sporting the Ohio Republican’s signature dark suit and orange tie ‘ recounted a dream about a world in which Norton was never born. Without her to defend the District in Congress, Washington turns Republican: the Chinatown Metro stop is renamed Gallery Place/Cheneytown, after the former vice president, and all taxes are abolished so that D.C. license plates now read simply, ‘Without Representation.’ In a change that would break liberal hearts, the city’s airport is renamed after both Ronald Reagan and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. And in the coup de grace, Ben’s Chili Bowl ‘ the famous black-owned restaurant on U Street ‘ is recast as Strom’s Oatmeal Bowl, a nod to Strom Thurmond, the former Republican South Carolina Senator and onetime segregation advocate. Perhaps the night’s funniest presenter was a Republican. Davis, who worked closely with Norton on D.C. issues during his tenure in Congress, nearly stole the show with his comedy routine. Like every presenter, Davis praised Norton for her tireless work on behalf of Washington’s voting rights and revitalization efforts, but he snuck in zinger after zinger about his former Capitol Hill colleague. ‘She projects an image of good will ‘ her blouse, her skirt, her shoes, they’re all from Goodwill,’ Davis cracked. And as he exited the stage at the end of his set, Davis grabbed the mic and said, ‘I’ve got to run to a tea party.’ The wisecracks were plentiful, but so were the kind words. Evans spoke about their work reviving Washington since they were elected to their respective positions in 1991, and Hexagon’s opening and closing numbers professed admiration for Norton. The roastee took the mic briefly at the end of the performance to thank ‘ or not thank ‘ those who had spoken earlier in the evening. ‘Everyone knows I have to take it in Congress for the District, but I never thought I’d have to take it from Hexagon,’ said a smiling Norton.