The highlight, if you could call it that, of last night's L.A. Political Roast came when Councilman Paul Koretz appeared on stage in a lion outfit. The suit was on backwards, with the tail facing front, in order to make it appear that he had a giant penis.
If that doesn't strike you as funny, then chances are you are not a City Hall lobbyist. In front of an audience of 800 lobbyists and other political insiders at the Beverly Hilton, it absolutely killed.
The roast, now in its 17th year, revels in its impropriety. The organizers are Arnie Berghoff and Harvey Englander, two self-styled "fat cat" lobbyists, and Englander's nephew, Councilman Mitch Englander. The donors are dubbed "power brokers" and include a who's-who of corporate interests with business before the council. And then, of course, there are the dick jokes.
In past years, the dick jokes have been pervasive. This year, they were somewhat toned down. Perhaps it was because Koretz's wife, Gail, allowed the roast to go forward only on condition that there be no sex jokes. Perhaps it also had something to do with the fact that City Hall - which is now down to just one female elected official - has a growing sexual harassment problem. Whatever the reason, it was the cleanest roast in years.
Not completely clean, of course. Councilman Englander did make a fleeting and ill-advised reference to the popularity of gerbils in West Hollywood. And of course, there was the lion outfit, which Koretz donned as part of an elaborate musical riff on Cats, which featured both female and male dancers gyrating in Koretz's lap.
"Just for the record, I didn't agree to this," Koretz said, with his lion penis dangling to his ankles.
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That was about it for the sex jokes. The rest of the evening featured a lot of jokes about Koretz's love of animals, some about his fondness for banning things, and a few about his weight, which is not really enough to carry a two-hour program.
In previous years, Eric Garcetti would sing a comedic song. But at last year's roast of Councilman Tom LaBonge, which was during the mayoral campaign, Garcetti dropped the song and did a few jokes instead. This year, he didn't attend. (In perhaps the line of the night, emcee Fritz Coleman joked that the mayor was not in attendance, and neither was her husband, Eric Garcetti.)
As he usually does in Garcetti's absence, Council President Herb Wesson took over. A onetime stand-up comedian, Wesson riffed on the recent earthquake. When KTLA anchor Chris Schauble dove under his desk, Wesson said, "We had to ban Chris from being a brother. He is no longer a brother." He also told an elaborate story about hunters flooding the Capitol to oppose Koretz's bill to ban using dogs in bear-hunting. "They all look like Duck Dynasty," he said. "I saw [someone with] one tooth eating beef jerky. How do you do that?"
He ended with a story about Koretz's exploits on the state Assembly baseball team. "He got four hits. And he didn't use a bat," Wesson said. "That's sexual."