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Journalists Take a Crack at Standup at Commedia dell Media IV

Matthew Cooper of the “National Journal” took the grand prize in an event judged by Eleanor Holmes Norton and Jim Graham.

“There’s no morning-after pill for bad comedy,” said Nick Galifianakis, cartoonist for the Washington Post and host of last night’s Commedia dell Media, where ten Washington journalists tried their hand at standup comedy. Luckily, there weren’t too many regrets from the brave souls who participated. Far from their politically correct day jobs, these esteemed members of the DC press corps weren’t afraid to get down and dirty, tackling everything from the motivations behind anti-American terrorism (possible reasons: butchered pronunciation of foreign names and the popularity of “glamping”) down to the misappropriation of the family jewels (and their fragility) as a symbol of courage.

National Journal’s Matthew Cooper (a regular at the event) won over the audience as he took jabs at the GOP presidential contenders, calling to attention the irony behind flip-flopper Romney describing himself as “resolute” during the Arizona debate. Cooper also equated Santorum and Romney’s theory that the widespread use of birth control has increased unwanted pregnancies to the idea that firehoses cause fires.

Cooper was rightfully anointed as DC’s funniest journalist, winning a bejeweled tiara that he propped comically atop his balding ahead while waving regally to the crowd.

Even the judges got in on the fun, including DC congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who quipped that Cooper had “an unfair advantage” over the rest for taking aim at Republicans, who make undoubtedly easy targets. The judging panel was also composed of national headlining comedian Dennis Regan and council member Jim Graham, whose biting assessments of the comics were sometimes funnier than the routines.

The night wasn’t without a few cringeworthy moments (here’s looking at you, DCist’s Ben Freed and Erin McPike from Real Clear Politics), but cheers and claps prevailed, especially since this was for a great cause, with all the proceeds devoted to the youth literacy and writing programs REACH Incorporated and Writopia.

The other journalists to brave the stage were Rachel Dry and Lisa Bonos of the Washington Post, Jamie McIntyre of NPR, Riz Khan of Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg’s Alan Bjerga, Elahe Izadi of WAMU, and PBS’s P.J. Tobia. Many thought Izadi should have fared better for her schtick about her Iranian heritage. But the prize for the worst line of the night goes to Bjerga, an agriculture reporter, who earned groans for the following quip: “Why did the two melons have a church wedding? Because they cantaloupe.”