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Follies Take Shots at Reed and Laffey; Fogarty Shows Wild Side (posted Feb. 26, 2005)

The Newspaper Guild Follies entertained an overflow crowd at the Venus de Milo last night as part of its popular annual political satire show. Organized by the union representing Providence Journal employees, the event makes fun of leading Rhode Island political figures. Master of ceremonies Scott MacKay took advantage of Senator Jack Reed's engagement to poke fun at the relationship. Noting that the Senator was marrying a younger woman, MacKay joked that when he first saw the picture of the two, he thought the Senator had put a "father-daughter" photo in the newspaper. With both the Senator and his fiance in the audience, MacKay chided the Senator for a relationship that looked like a Levitra ad.

Providence Mayor David Cicilline came in for his share of jabs. MacKay said if the mayor [who is openly gay] wanted to get married, "we could take care of you. After all, we are in Massachusetts." Even journalists took some hits during the evening. Cranston city finances were described by MacKay as so bad that Mayor Steven Laffey had to cut [Providence editorial writer] Ed Acorn from his payroll.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams drew barbs based on the way he glorified himself in a personal website on the Internet (although now taken down). MacKay said the justice was starting a new website known as As laughter rolled through the audience, MacKay added that Williams "is becoming the Alan Shawn Feinstein of the judiciary".

Comedian Frank O'Donnell entertained the crowd with jokes about the newspaper. Referring to the controversy over the newspaper's decision to charge for obituaries, O'Donnell joked that the paper's decision to charge per inch in death notices proved what women always have known, that "size does matter."

These and other jokes were sprinkled through a show featuring a number of musical skits. One segment entitled "Above the Law" spoofed WJAR-TV reporter Jim Taricani's home confinement: "When I was young, I had Rhode Island by the nuts, Good job, good friends, good butt. Those days are gone. Living at home, I see my boyish good looks fade, So much for my holy crusade....Look at my leg, there is a monitoring strap, It's degrading, that's a fact, but I didn't rat. Bevilaqua and that stubborn Judge Torres, It wasn't me, it was them, That caused this mess."

Vincent Mesolella's plan to build a downtown hotel with taxpayer assistance was spoofed to the song Hotel California: "Welcome to the Hotel Mesolella/It's the place to stay/Don't you go away/Plenty of room at the Hotel Mesolella/ Just give me a break (just give me a break)/Or I'll drain your lake".

Former Blue Cross executive Ron Battista was lampooned through the lyrics: "Battista, Battista, Battista, He take our money and screw the subscriba/He rob from Blue Shield and Blue Cross/ We paid the rising of the cost./ All because Battista, he drive a fancy car and get a divorce."

Laffey was made fun of through a skit entitled "Steve's Train" sung to the tune of Love Train: "People all over the state, join hands/Steve Laffey, Steve's train/People all over the state, join hands/ Steve Laffey, Steve's train/Ride, let it ride, let it ride/People, get on board".

Each year, the Follies has a mystery guest who gets a chance to make or break his or her political career through humor and self-deprecation. Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty came out wearing a wig and attacked press impressions that he was a boring guy. Singling out Providence Journal columnist M. Charles Bakst for special attention, Fogarty criticized Bakst for calling him boring in a column right before Christmas. "Think how that feels," Fogarty said, "Charlie Bakst calls you boring. Do you know what that did for my self-esteem?"

With elections coming up in 2006 and Fogarty rumored to be considering races either for governor or Congress, Fogarty promised an extreme political makeover. "I'm exciting, I'm witty, and I'm very desirable," the Lieutenant Governor joked. As part of the new image, he also promised a new website called,