Two weeks in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., can be, as has been said about the TV critics’ press tour, a death march with cocktails. There are endless security checkpoints, credentialing desks and the nagging doubt that there’s always a better party to get into.

But the Democratic and Republican conventions are also a mix of policy and performance. Actually, quite good performances. At the Got Your 6-Lifetime event, co-sponsored by Variety, Sara Evans performed at the Tampa Art Museum to a crowd that included co-host Meghan McCain, with her father, Sen. John McCain, among the guests. In Charlotte, the event featured an extravagant performance by Flo Rida at Amos’ Southend, with co-host Eva Longoria, a co-chair of President Obama’s reelection campaign, delivering remarks.

While the stars may be out of their element in the endless number of panels on everything from tax policy to political strategy, most fetes certainly made them feel right at home. At the Impact Film Festival and Funny or Die party at Charlotte’s Five, Jessica Alba, Elizabeth Banks and Zach Braff left the VIP area and the crowd seemed to automatically clear the way.

No figure, however, was free from foible. Following former President Clinton’s speech in Charlotte, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin fell in the water at a poolside fete.

“That was funny. I got out of there and said, ‘You got something that looks like a glass floor,’?” Rubin told Variety. “But it sure was a way to get attention.”