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Governor Ed Rendell was one of the headliners at Stu Bykofsky's standing-room-only Variety Club benefit, Candidates Comedy Night on August 9. (Bonnie Squires)

Candidates Comedy Night
Rendell headlines Stu Bykofsky's Variety Club Benefit.

-- Bonnie Squires

Every August, in the heat of the summer, just as the campaign season is heating up as well, Stu Bykofsky, the veteran Daily News columnist, stages his Variety Blub benefit, the annual "Candidates Comedy Night" at Finnegan's Wake restaurant on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.

Political junkies were delighted with the roster of candidates offering stand-up comedy routines on August 8. Governor Ed Rendell read a series of limericks, aimed at politicians, including himself, which he claimed had been submitted to him by citizen-voters from various parts of the Commonwealth. He earned big laughs, especially when he started to read, "There once was a man from Nantucket..." - and then corrected himself, saying that that one was from the "reject" pile.

He had to leave right after his performance, clutching the Diet Coke I had bought for him, knowing his appetite. 

The press was out in force, with every political columnist, gossip columnist, and reporter from every daily newspaper, taking notes in between guffaws.

Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey, Jr., ended up standing side by side with a giant poster of himself, proving that the real Bob Casey is much livelier than the boring cardboard cut-out.
Congressman Chaka Fattah scored by showing the video of his interview on the Stephen Colbert Show, especially his answer to the question, "Do you think President Bush is a great President, or the greatest President ever?" Fattah on tape had instantly responded, "President Bush has created the greatest deficit in the history of the country," and a string of "greatest negatives."
Colbert responded, "So I will put you down as saying 'great.'"

Republicans had a harder time finding humor in being outnumbered in an overwhelmingly Democratic crowd. First-term Republican Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick faked a phone call from President Bush, finding excuses for not being available to stand with Bush at any rally or event Instead, he urged Bush to call Curt Weldon or Jim Gerlach.

Rick Santorum, whatever you think of his political positions, had a very clever presentation, involving a slide presentation revealing ten shocking things you didn't know about him, including his representation of the World Wrestling Federation. Santorum needled the columnists who have been accusing him of financing the Green Party candidate.

A parade of well known and unknown candidates delighted the overflow crowd, with Patrick Murphy, Bob Brady, and a stand-in for Allyson Schwartz being especially popular. The big surprise was Lynn Swann, who is virtually unknown in Philadelphia, except for his football prowess. He delivered his very funny routing, just as Governor Rendell entered the room, but Swann kept his cool.

Bykofsky's efforts earned another $20,000 for the Variety Club's activities for children with disabilities. Harriet Lessy, who won the 50-50 raffle, turned the entire amount back to Variety Club.
Nest summer's roster, of Mayoral candidates in particular, promises to be just as rewarding.

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