As Fran Lebowitz and Frank Rich settle into comfy armchairs onstage at the Smith Center, my girlfriend weighs the value of being in the audience against watching MSNBC at home while eating chili on the couch. It is, after all, the night after the second presidential debate and Rachel Maddow and the gang will likely be having the exact same conversation. And, as with Frank and Fran in A State of the Union Conversation, no opposing voice.
But then Lebowitz starts delivering large doses of her bone-dry humor, playing funny lady to Rich’s straight man, offering up comic relief during this season of bombastic over-saturated and angry political discourse, and the evening takes off.
Discussing partisanship, biased journalism, liars, racism and anti-women antics while suggesting (Lebowitz, primarily) that citizens play a larger role in government, rather than a once-every-four-years trip to the voting booth, the relaxed evening went on, unopposed, and seasoned with laughter at Lebowitz’ dry humor. A few outtakes:
“He made Bush sound like Franklin Roosevelt.” Lebowitz on Obama’s reference to Bush and social policy during the second debate with Mitt Romney.
“...commentators, pundits or astrologers, or whatever they’re called.” Lebowitz, discussing news commentators’ responses to Romney’s treatment of Candy Crowley.
“The local political ads here, I was riveted. I couldn’t wait for the news to break to a commercial.” Lebowitz, pointing out that Shelley Berkley seemed like “the worst person ever,” then learning Berkley was a Democrat.
“For about five minutes I was for this guy Todd Heller.” Lebowitz on Dean Heller’s campaign ads.
“So this tracks how much money you lose and if we lose a certain amount of money you’ll give us a Coca-Cola?” Lebowitz on the points that guests receive when gambling in Las Vegas casinos, after explaining that she and Rich had several conversations with casino employees before they understood what “points” meant.
“The problem with Jim Lehrer is that he’s been hiding from the bus that takes you to Florida.” Lebowitz on the "law" on the East Coast that requires seniors to move to Florida.
“What about Shelley?” Lebowitz, responding to Rich’s point that there’s not really a strong next generation of leaders in the Democratic party.
“It’s inspired art projects. It’s probably going to be a Broadway musical before long.” Rich, referring to “binders full of women.”
"It used to be journalism." Lebowitz, responding to Rich's statement that fact checking used to be part of journalism.
“Pretend it’s the football referees.” Lebowitz on political issues that affect America, referring to the outcry over the replacement refs.
“I watch the president give the State of the Union address, then I watch the Republicans give the State of the Confederates address.” Lebowitz.
“I’m pro-abortion retroactively.” Lebowitz, pointing out that you rarely hear, “How was your trip? Horrible. There wasn’t enough traffic.”
“Let me assure you, I adore the unborn. I prefer them.”Lebowitz, referring to anti-abortion sentiment.
“There are on only two kinds of people that Republicans are interested in—unborn people and corporations.” Rich, to which Lebowitz responds with a statement along the lines of, “I myself prefer unborn corporations.”