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Good, Clean Fun at Feb, 2007 Newspaper Guild Follies (posted February 24, 2007)

The 34th annual edition of the Newspaper Guild Follies featured the sharp wit and sophomoric humor of masters of ceremonies Scott MacKay and Frank O'Donnell and a cast of outstanding performers. As MacKay put it, the Follies show is simply "too stupid, mean, and silly to die."

Referring to the Operation Dollar Bill corruption probe, MacKay asked all members of the General Assembly to stop by U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente's table "to pick up your subpoenas". Noting the absence of the Carcieri family, MacKay complained that "the governor is not here and neither is her husband Don". He pointed out that the Statehouse has been renamed the "Old Stone Alumni Association" in honor of all that bank's former employees who have gotten jobs in state government. "This is good, for a dead bank," he quipped.

MacKay poked fun at many of the state's elected officials. Of Providence Mayor David Cicilline, whose brother is under indictment, the reporter referred to the song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and said that in Cicilline's case, the new lyrics should be "He is heavy and he is my brother". Recalling Congressman Patrick Kennedy's bizarre behavior at the U.S. Capitol last year, he said that with Kennedy's Democratic party now in the majority, the representative finally could pass the legislation he always has coveted, one that would install "rubber Jersey barriers around every bar in the first district". Spying former Senator Lincoln Chafee, who was defeated in the 2006 election, he joked that people shouldn't feel sorry for someone who had "a beautiful wife, a professorship at Brown ... and $80 million". He pointed out that with the election of new Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, now there is "a white man you can trust in Washington". He furthermore complimented television reporter Jim Taricani for being there "without his ankle bracelet".

Comedian Frank O'Donnell had a number of good lines. With Senator Jack Reed, whose wife had the couple's first baby, the master of ceremony joked that "at 57 and with his first child, Reed had much to look forward to." In five years, he noted, the daughter would be attending her first day of kindergarten and she will be "taller than you". In addition, he said in reference to Congressman Kennedy that "Patrick has been in rehab enough, he can start dating Britney Spears". After a humorous skit regarding Sheldon Whitehouse, he said the Senator "doesn't move that much when he is playing tennis." O'Donnell also spared little mercy toward convicted former State Senator John Celona. Soon the disgraced politician would be serving time at the "Ft. Dix casino" and the "Cranston Hilton", he said.

This year's Follies introduced a new performer, impressionist John Roarke. A native of the Ocean State, the comedian drew wild applause for his impression of Senator Whitehouse entitled "Whitewashed". Song to the tune of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and featuring rigid and mechanical movements reminescent of Al Gore, Roarke sang "Mudslinging, it will make you sick, It just took a little push, All I did was repeat the name George Bush". Roarke performed his impression of President George Bush complaining about terrorists in the Rhode Island General Assembly named "bin Lying, bin Cheating, and bin Stealing". The only terrorist not seen in the Statehouse, he noted, was "bin Working". In a dig at a popular local radio show host, he said the government had perfected a neutron bomb that would leave the infrastructure intact while people ran out of the building with their noses bleeding. The secret, he said, was to "drop Dan Yorke right in there". Roarke appeared as David Letterman and presented his top 10 signs that convicted felon and former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci had been rehabilitated. Among the indications would be that Cianci had woven his toupees into sweaters for the homeless, provided the indicted John Cicilline with "soap on a rope" to prepare him for prison life, had renamed himself "Bubba Cianci", and that he now stuck nicorette gum in people's eye when he was mad at them.

Providence Journal reporter Alisha Pina also appeared for the first time in the Follies and gave a powerful rendition about fired radio talk show host Arlene Violet entitled "Purple Reign" sung in a beautiful voice to "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. Her song explained that "All my listeners say you shouldn't throw me out. I'm not done yet. Don't stick in the fork. I just can't believe I lost to Dan Yorke." Her performance drew rave reviews from the crowd of 1,200 people.

Returning talk show host John DePetro came in for his share of personal abuse. In a skit entitled "Back on Track", singers lampooned childhood friends Stephen Laffey and DePetro by noting "two native sons with visions of fame: a senator's seat and wide syndication. But primary smears and calling folks queers just lacks persuasion."

The final highlight of the evening came with the mystery guest, who was newly-elected Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts. Her skit was based on the motto of "Be Smart. Work Hard. Dress Well." Coming out in a blue bathrobe, the normally well-dressed official wondered to herself whether she should be the "caring devoted Mom" or the person who "reinvented the health care system for the state". She parodied herself by obsessing on which outfit to wear before she finally chose a pair of "reasonably priced but highly prized shoes". She told her chief of staff Paul Tencher (played by a wonderful young actor from Second Story Theater) to remember to "tell [reporter] Kathy Gregg how much I paid for the shoes".

Then turning into Queen Bitch, she lashed out at her aide who mistakenly called her "Lt. Governor" as opposed to "Governor". And when her daughter Nora called with a medical emergency involving a severed finger, she informed her offspring she was really busy right now and the teenager should Google "digit reattachment". Don't panic, the Lt. Governor advised, just "put it on ice and get a ride to the emergency room".