LOS ANGELES — At a fundraiser in Hollywood Sunday night, former Democratic Florida Rep. Alan Grayson used rape jokes to raise money for his congressional campaign.
Grayson, an acerbically partisan one-term congressman who is hoping to return to the House two years after being voted out of office, was in attendance at his fundraiser at the Hollywood Improv, where comedians, including Sarah Silverman, spat out jokes in support of Grayson’s campaign.
The five comedians there to support Grayson performed jokes that were edgy, raunchy and sometimes funny. That’s standard fare for the comedy club circuit. Topics that would be out of bounds to joke about in normal conversation are covered in abundance when the lights dim on the stand-up stage. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. What’s unusual is that 10 days before Election Day, a congressional candidate would raise money from an event full of rape jokes.
Making fun of Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s suggestion that there is some biological mechanism to prevent a woman from being impregnated when she is raped, comedian Jimmy Dore riffed on how he and his wife were poor when they were younger and couldn’t afford birth control.
“Guess you’re going to have to rape me,” Dore mimicked his wife saying.
Melodramatically striding to the stage to Enya’s “Only Time,” Silverman declared to much laughter as the music faded, “Wow. God, I love that song — I was a brutally raped to that song.”
“Didn’t ruin it for me,” she added.
Silverman went on to explain that while rape is perhaps the most “heinous crime imaginable,” rape jokes are a “hidden gem in comedy.”
“Rape jokes are great because they make a comedian seem very edgy and very dangerous,” she said.
Plus, she added, “who’s going to complain?”
Silverman joked that rape victims are “traditionally not complainers” and the worst that could happen is “after a show a woman might come up to you and say, ‘Look, I’m a victim of rape … and I thought that joke was insensitive and inappropriate and totally my fault.'”
Moving away from rape jokes, Silverman told the crowd of just under 100 that they must remember that both conservatives and liberals want the best for the country, even if liberals are more “open-minded” and conservatives are “less open-minded” and ” a little more “faggot-ish.”
But, “I pray for them,” she said.
“Just the other night I was praying for the literally billions — billions — of teeny, tiny Republicans that die every single year in hookers’ assholes.”
She conceded that Democrats also have anal sex with hookers, but only Republicans are trying to take her rights away.
“So when a Democrat gives a hooker anal warts, she can then go to a clinic and zap it.”
Silverman also joked that conservatives are generally racist.
“In general, Republicans say they don’t want big government in their backyard because they can’t say what they really want to say,” she declared, before proceeding to say the n-word a half dozen or so times.
Another raunchy Silverman joke centered on how she was babysitting the infant daughter of a friend of hers and was shocked that the baby girl was “totally shaved — six months old.”
Concluding her set by noting that we all once started as sperm, Silverman said: “There was a time I was literally choking on my dad’s cum.”
“I was five,” she joked.
A night of liberal political comedy would not be complete without some Fox News bashing.
“Fox News is like a hand job for your id,” joked comedian Rick Overton, one of the least funny comedians of the evening.
“I’m Bill O’Reilly and I’m fed up with your hard facts and research details,” he mimicked the Fox News host saying.
“They don’t want smart people,” he declared.
Overton wanted to make clear he was not only a “patriot,” but a “matriot” because “I love my Mother Earth.”
Overton then began preaching. He said that if Romney wins he isn’t leaving the country; “I’m going to stay here and fight.”
“My dad fought Nazis and turned snow red in France with Germans,” he said, adding the least he could do is stand up to Republicans with his microphone.
This gift to comedy was wearing a sport coat with 99 percent written on it.
Ending his sermon, he informed the crowd that they could walk their mail-in ballots to their election center and put them in the box themselves, joking they shouldn’t trust poll workers wearing crosses to do it for them.
Another comedian, David Feldman, took a shot at Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, saying he was “Not afraid to speak his mind no matter how small it is.”
Speaking of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he joked, “If she could read intelligence memos the way she reads teleprompters, the twin towers would still be standing.”
After mentioning Sarah Palin’s statement that she thought the president was shucking and jiving on Libya, Feldman joked that Palin defended herself from those who said her comments were racist by saying, “Some of her best friends are self-hating black conservatives on Fox.”
He then said Ann Coulter was racist, as if a fact, before bringing up her recent tweet joking that President Barack Obama was a retard.
“You know, if Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann were the leading female voices in my party, I wouldn’t trust women to make their own health care decisions either,” Feldman said.
“These people are idiots,” he declared, referring to conservatives.
Feldman said Grayson was the “only half-way decent thing to come out of Florida. No wonder he wants to go to Washington, he lives in Florida!”
Several of the stand-up acts were funny, even if sometimes grotesque and partisan. The problem is not that comedians made off color jokes or made fun of conservatives. That’s what comedians do and comedians should almost never be forced to apologize for what they say in comedy clubs. Pushing — and sometimes stepping over — the line is part of the business.
But for a candidate to raise money off a night of rape jokes? At the very least, that doesn’t seem like the brightest of political moves.
Tickets for the fundraiser were $30 (full disclosure: TheDC bought one) and $250 for better seating and a meet-and-greet with Grayson afterwards. A staff member of the Improv said he thought the money went to a committee supporting Grayson’s campaign — not necessarily to Grayson’s campaign directly. To date, Grayson has raised 33 times more money than his Republican opponent, according to the AP.
Grayson rebuffed my efforts for an interview Sunday night, first telling me that he had to greet all those who showed up to support him and then telling me after I waited in the lobby of the club for over an hour that he was too tired to talk.