You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Election: No kidding

Variety editorial

Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye.

But in the wake of last Thursday’s Radio City Music Hall benefit for the Edwards/Kerry ticket, entertainers have been put on notice: If their jokes cut too close for comfort or their language is too raunchy, the backlash will be fierce.

At the Radio City Music Hall event, Whoopi Goldberg and Chevy Chase delivered monologues mercilessly lambasting the president. Singer John Mellencamp called him a “cheap thug.” The humor was blue — not red, white and blue.

Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman responded by calling the benefit a “star-studded hatefest” and demanded the Kerry campaign release a video of the show. TV and Internet news outlets gave it wide play.

Lost in the media storm is the concept that mockery and name-calling can work both ways — and in fact is sometimes healthy. George Bush Sr. called Michael Moore a “slimeball” without having seen his film. George W. Bush recently offered a film of himself humorously hunting under White House chairs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Latenight comics mock the administration without being labeled “hatefests.” Humor and satire have always acknowledged the common ground between people of opposing political views — even in a tense political year.

The Gridiron Dinner has long been a safe zone in which entertainers and politicians can laugh at themselves — uncensored and unvetted. The stage at Radio City Music Hall should be safe from censors, too.

More Scene

  • John Cena Ferdinand

    'Ferdinand' Director on Why John Cena Was Perfect for Title Role

    Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye. But in the wake of […]

  • Asian-American Unforgettable Awards 2017

    'Westworld's' Leonardo Nam Says Seeing Asian Actors in ‘Star Wars’ ‘Feels Normal’

    Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye. But in the wake of […]

  • Mark Hamill'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

    'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Honors Late Carrie Fisher at Elaborate Premiere

    Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye. But in the wake of […]

  • Ajit Pai Free Speech

    FCC Chair Plays for Laughs at D.C. Event Amid Fierce Net Neutrality Debate

    Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye. But in the wake of […]

  • GQ Men of the Year Awards

    Stars Reflect on 2017 at GQ's Men of the Year Party: 'This Is a Year of Cultural Revolution'

    Ribald, celebrity-encrusted press club dinners are an old tradition in Washington. For years events like the Gridiron Dinner have seen politicians breaking bread with entertainers and journalists. They’ve managed to set ideology aside, put on nothing-sacred skits and poke rude fun at themselves — and nobody has batted an eye. But in the wake of […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content