We interrupt Vladimir Putin’s attempt to start World War III with some truly eyebrow-raising news.
After months of secret, high-level phone calls and lunch meetings, the stars have finally aligned for me to announce my role as MC for the first (and quite possibly last) comedy roast of the mayor of Spokane.
The event is set for May 15 (a Thursday night) inside the downtown’s luxurious Bing Crosby Theater.
Drafting me as the mayoral “roast-master” was a fairly easy proposition.
Fun and games, after all, are my imaginary friends.
The big shocker is that Mayor David Condon has thrown sanity to the wind and agreed to be guest/victim of honor for this evening of mirth, music and mayhem.
“If you can’t laugh at yourself you don’t deserve being mayor,” Condon told me during a Monday morning phone interview.
I can’t really speak to this, mayor.
The only political office I ever held was one quarter as the ninth floor president of my silo-shaped college dormitory, Pearce Hall.
That said, I have been around enough Spokane mayors to be able to applaud Condon’s rare willingness to stick his jaw out and take a few good-natured jabs for a worthy cause.
Proceeds from ticket sales (which go on sale today at all TicketsWest outlets) will benefit Friends of the Bing, the nonprofit foundation dedicated to bringing better entertainment to downtown Spokane.
Tickets, by the way, are 20 bucks for an assigned seat on the main floor. For the non-bejeweled, there will be assigned cheaper seats available in the balcony ($10 for the upper nosebleed and $15 for lower hooting and hollering range).
So how did all this merriment come about?
Don’t blame me.
Credit Bing owner Jerry Dicker for dreaming this up.
“This is going to be an epic event for Spokane,” Dicker predicted. “Nobody ever gets to see politicians in this fashion.”
As I know only too well, getting the right panel members plays a huge part in a roast’s success.
I was the target of a similar roast for charity some years back at the Davenport Hotel.
Some of my roasters were well up to the task. TV news icon Randy Shaw, for example, worked me over until I almost cried from laughing so hard.
Others apparently saw the roast as their chance to deliver boring, 15-minute monologues.
To keep that from happening again, a number of worthy names have been suggested. I will be contacting these candidates soon to see if, A) they’re willing and B) they have the sort of bravado required by the old-fashioned Dean Martin celebrity roast standards we’re aiming for.
That said, two terrific roasters have already signed on.
One is Tom Keefe, a politically connected Spokane attorney and one of the town’s funniest raconteurs.
Last St. Patrick’s Day, Keefe dressed himself in full St. Patrick regalia and blessed the beery masses at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub.
A former chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, Keefe switched his allegiances and backed the more Republican Condon over Mayor Mary Verner in the last election.
Keefe did it for moral reasons. He endorsed Condon mainly due to the candidate’s admirable and outspoken support for Otto Zehm, the innocent citizen who died in 2006 after an unprovoked attack in a convenience store by a now-incarcerated Spokane cop.
I’m likewise happy to announce that Council President Ben Stuckart has committed to joining the roasters.
I wanted Stuckart for a couple reasons. First, he has a sharp sense of humor. Second, he’s also the guy most likely to be running against Condon in the next mayor’s race.
Stuckart’s presence, I believe, will give the event political credibility.
Quite frankly, I wondered if the Stuckart quotient might scuttle the roast before it ever got off the ground.
I didn’t need to worry. To Condon’s credit, he didn’t even blink.
Under the traditional rules, each roaster (I’m hoping for eight) will have between 3 to 5 minutes to toast mayor with sarcasm and backhanded compliments.
After everyone has taken their swing, Mayor Condon, as the grand roastee, will have about 10 minutes to comically even the score.
Many politicians I’ve encountered over the years had skin thinner than tracing paper. They would have never involved themselves in something like this.
Condon, however, doesn’t seem to bruise easily, and there could be a reason for that.
“You don’t get away with much having six older brothers,” quipped the guy I sometimes refer to as Boy Mayor due to his status as one of history’s youngest Spokane mayors.
So stay tuned. In the coming weeks I’ll reveal more exciting details about our panel and added entertainment.
I can say that our live music will include a first-ever performance of a new parody song my buddy Joe Brasch and I are working on.
Sung to the tune of that Beatles classic, “Day Tripper,” our version will be dedicated to all the Spokane mayors of the last hundred or so years.
“One Termer,” we call it.
By the way, I felt compelled to ask Mayor Condon how he ranked his agreeing to be roasted with the many other tough mayoral decisions he has made.
The phone suddenly went dead.
As the seconds ticked off, I began to fear that our call had been dropped or – God forbid – the mayor had passed out.
Finally he spoke.
“As you can see,” Condon replied in deadpan tone, “the silence is deafening.”
Oh, this is going to be so much fun.