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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Mark Katz
A former creative consultant to the Democratic National Committee, Mark Katz helped pen gags for President Clinton's appearances at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, working in what administration insiders playfully dubbed their "comedy war room." One joke — written in 1998, following the Monica Lewinsky and White House fundraising scandals — never saw the light of day.
In theory, the star-studded annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner is a plum gig, a once-in-a-lifetime chance for comics to enhance their national profiles and gag writers to put material in the mouth of the world's most powerful person. In reality, it's a nerve-wracking pressure cooker for comics and presidential joke penners alike. Off-color and ill-advised jokes can ignite national controversy; political cracks can touch off outraged partisan food fights.
"It was, 'Looking back, maybe I should have raised money in the Oval Office and had sex in the Lincoln Bedroom,' " said Mr. Katz.
"The president is the most powerful person in the world, so the last thing you want to see is him being a bully," Mr. Katz said. "That is why it's so important to mock yourself. Only after you've done that will the audience let you poke fun at others."