Usually, audiences at the Pittsburgh Improv are laughing at politicians, but, at Candidates' Comedy Night, they were laughing with them.
The fundraiser for the Allegheny County Music Festival Fund had politicians reaching across the aisles on Thursday night so that their constituents could roll in them.
Among those taking to The Waterfront stage in Homestead Borough to tell jokes, perform skits and even sing for charity were seven politicians directly representing parts of Baldwin-Whitehall: incumbent Democrat Jay Costa, of Pennsylvania's 43rd Senatorial District, which includes ; Lawrence Maggi, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives' 18th District of Pennsylvania, including ; incumbent Republican Tim Murphy, Maggi's challenger; D. Raja, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania's 37th Senatorial District seat, including Whitehall; Democrat Matthew H. Smith, Raja's challenger; Mike Doyle, the Democratic incumbent for the U.S. House's 14th District of Pennsylvania, including and Baldwin Borough; and Republican Hans Lessmann, Doyle's challenger.
Other politicians who performed were state treasurer candidates Robert McCord, the Democratic incumbent, and Diana Irey Vaughan, McCord's Republican challenger, as well as Democrat Kathleen Kane, who is campaigning to be the state's attorney general, incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Irey Vaughan told personal stories about her trials and tribulations as a woman in politics. The petite Washington County commissioner said, "The first story I read in the Observer-Reporter mentioned my weight (99 pounds) and my height (5 feet 5 inches). You know no story about a male politician started with his height and weight."
Irey Vaughan returned to the stage with Maggi, and the two did a little skit that poked fun at both political parties.
Murphy strapped on a guitar and crooned a comedic song to the audience, but it was Doyle who killed (comedic vernacular for performing exceptionally). Doyle's impression of Mitt and Anne Romney's horse, Rafalca, performing in the dressage event at this year's Olympics had the audience rolling with laughter.
"Marc does a really great job putting this together," Raja said.
Fitzgerald, Raja's former rival for the county executive post, also praised Cherna. "It's a fantastic event," Fitzgerald said, adding, "I was here last year as a hopeful, and it's my first year here as the county executive. I have a couple of zingers ready!"
Emcee Gene Collier, columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a professional stand-up comedian, took jabs at everyone, especially himself. Unlike the candidates, Collier peppered his comments with salty language. His jokes garnered the biggest laughs.
Between performances, several gift baskets were awarded to lucky raffle winners. The baskets held various prize packages for local arts, restaurants and sporting events. The "Sizzlin' Nights" basket had overnight accommodations and breakfast for two at the Omni William Penn Hotel, a gift certificate to the Dean of Shadyside Salon, four hours of transportation service from Quality Limousine, tickets for a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert, gift certificates to The Melting Pot, massages and more.
"Since its inception," Cherna said, "the (Allegheny County Music Festival) Fund has provided more than 2,300 children with meaningful times or opportunities that cannot be provided through traditional government funding."
For more information on the fund, visit www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/acmff.aspx.
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