If redistricting humor is your cup of tea, then the L.A. Political Roast was the place to be last night. About 900 lobbyists, elected officials, and assorted City Hall hacks gathered at the Beverly Hilton to raise money for diabetes research and roast Council President Herb Wesson.
At most, there are three jokes you can make about Wesson: he's short, he smokes, and he screwed over Bernard Parks
and Jan Perry in redistricting.
No surprise, then, that the evening did not reach the raunchy heights of last year's roast of Councilman Dennis Zine, who made for such a fat target. But there were a few good lines.
Here are the five best.
1. Zine and Controller Wendy Greuel went through a list of the promises Wesson made to his colleagues become council president. When they got to Perry, Greuel noted that Wesson moved USC into Perry's district. "He promised Jan some Trojans," she said. Zine had to finish the joke because Greuel was too embarrassed: "... while she was getting screwed."
2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, on the controversy over fire department response times. "Is Chief Cummings here yet? We called him five minutes ago."
3. Villaraigosa, to the American Diabetes Association, on Carmen Trutanich: "If you get a pledge from the city attorney -- or as he wants to be called on the ballot, Nuch the Magnificent -- make sure he pays in cash."
4. Councilman Eric Garcetti, playing piano and singing to the tune of "Bohemian Rhapsody": "Gerry, just screw Bernard and Jan / Put Andrew Westall at the head / Drew a map and now they're dead." (Gerry = Gerry Miller, chief legislative analyst. Westall = Wesson staffer turned redistricting chief.)
5. Councilman Bill Rosendahl (who bombed) on redistricting fallout: "No one in L.A. history has done so much to unite South Los Angeles and the Korean community."
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Perhaps sensing that this year's jokes weren't quite as raunchy or funny as last year's, Wesson took it upon himself to rescue the evening. A former stand-up comic, Wesson did several minutes of off-color Viagra jokes and an extended riff on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's relationship with the black community.
Wesson imagined Yaroslavsky stumping for votes at a Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. In a timid-white-man voice, he said, "Hi, I'm Zev. Hi, brother. Hi, sister. Let's be friends." But later, he described Yaroslavsky getting the hang of it, donning a Kangol hat and chains, picking up "shorties" in his Escalade, and demanding to be called "White Fizzle."
Wesson finished up by saying that while Garcetti and Greuel have been vying for his endorsement for mayor, "I'm gonna roll with White Fizzle."
Though the whole grandpa-learns-to-rap routine has been around since the 1980s, we're grading on a curve here and deeming this easily the night's funniest bit.