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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 11/17/2006

Another Judging Controversy

Quite a night at the Improv on Tuesday. Although I left in a raging fury. It's taken me three days to get enough perspective to post a recap. I've been waiting for the D.C. DCRTV to follow up on its promised recap, but it never happened. FishbowlDC, disappointingly, gave us virtually nothing. So I'll have to do it myself.

[Edit: In case you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, what follows is a recap of this week's Second Annual Funniest Sports Celebrity in Washington contest, which was held at the Improv on Tuesday night.]

Maybe I took it all a little too seriously, but the results were wrong. They were a Grade A scandal. There was a fix. And I'm about to blow the lid off this puppy.

Anyhow, there were five judges: me, Mike Wise (who seemed especially interested in devouring the chicken quesadillas and spilling salsa on his judging sheet), MLS defender of the year and failed "Guts" contestant Bobby Boswell (wearing camouflage), Caps forward-turned-defender-turned-forward Ben Clymer and the mysterious "Chip."

Now, I had been promoting this show by mentioning that it would feature the owner of California Tortilla as a non-celebrity judge. I was wrong.

"What is that, a pizza?" Bobby asked when "Chip" appeared. You see, "Chip" is actually the tortilla-chip shaped blob-like mascot for California Tortilla. And despite the fact that I kept referring to "Chip," to its face, as a dude, as in, "What's up, dude?" it turns out that "Chip" was (gasp!) a lady. I could see behind the mask a little, plus blog poster WG-DC told me so. Many of the contestants thought it would be a good career move to repeatedly insult "Chip" during their sets. I suspected that they were wrong. I suspected a gender-solidarity scandal.

So we were charged to judge the contestants in five categories: Material, Delivery, Originality, Audience Reaction and Stage Presence. I personally had trouble differentiating between Delivery and Stage Presence. Also, I was convinced that we were told to judge on a scale of 1-10. I know that Mike Wise used a 1-10 scale. But "Chip" judged on a scale of 1-5. Highly irregular. We couldn't discuss it, because "Chip" was mute.

The host was Michael Jenkins from Comcast. "God help you," he told the crowd before we began, with good reason. Then he told us that we haven't lived until we've seen Mike Wise do his karaoke version of "Jessie's Girl," which I don't doubt. Then he told Bobby Boswell that he was hot. Really hot.

[Edit: If this wasn't previously clear, MJ was making a joke about Bobby's appearance in Cosmo as a hot bachelor. While we all support the principle of anyone choosing to believe Bobby is hot, none of us actually, personally, believe Bobby to be hot. Ok?]

Mike Wise was invited to throw out the ceremonial first joke. He actually told two jokes; one making fun of sports talk radio person Bram Weinstein's "Covering the Redskins" mantra, and the other one about Lindsay Czarniak. I'm not gonna repeat it here, but suffice it to say, once Wise found out that her parents were in the audience, he went over to them to apologize.

The warmup act was Richard Siegel, who also apparently produced the show and coordinated the results. He made jokes about Plaxico Burress and Coco Crisp. Wise shoveled quesadillas into his face and insulted "Chip" during this set. "What qualifications does 'Chip' have?" he whispered to me. "I mean, it's a chip."

Radio person and first contestant Peter Rosenberg then took the stage and insulted the producer, calling his set "the worst six minutes of my life." That was all I wrote down. I know he talked about the Redskins a lot. Redskins fans should be inherently hilarious every year around this time, but I don't recall much hilarity.

Then came Marc Sterne, producer of the Brian Mitchell show and "Nigel" from the Dearly Missed Kornheiser show. He killed. He slayed. Partly it was because he was incredibly profane, to the point where the FCC should probably fine WTEM a few hundred thousand dollars just on principle, but he also had good material. And he did a Christopher-Walken-as-Sideline-Reporter bit that was genuinely good comedy. He also addressed our tortilla-shaped friend, saying "Seriously, 'Chip,' what the [bleep] are you?" Poor "Chip."

Then came Lindsay. After telling me before the event that she'd be reduced to telling knock-knock jokes, she did very, very well. She sort of, um, how do I say, poked fun at her boss. A lot. Good naturedly. Her boss being George Michael. Plus, she made Wham! jokes. And she conveyed certain doubts about the veracity of the Sports Machine (not the show, the actual machine, which I always believed to be real). Two days later, George announced he was stepping down. Freaky. She also made a lot of borderline racy jokes. Out of respect for the event, and since my notes became illegible around this point, I'm not gonna repeat them here.

Anyhow, to sum up the final three contestants, sports talk radio person Bram Weinstein called "Chip" "a pansexual large tortilla chip" and made jokes about the D.C. Divas, which was another suicidal move, since they were out in force; sports talk radio person Scott Jackson prompted me to write the word "sex" three times in my notebook but I'm not sure why; and defending champion and D.C. Divas running back Monica Livingston did a costumed dance to an Eminem tune and then showed off a pitch-perfect comic delivery but average material. (Lots of potential, but sort of disappointing in the end. That's why she plays football in this town.)

Ok, forget all that. This is the important part: The Scoring. I had Sterne with 45 points (out of 50), Bram and Lindsay with 42 and the other three tied at 37. I'm not positive on Wise, but he definitely had Sterne in first, I believe with 48 points. Bobby told me he had Sterne ranked first. I figured that was it. Three first-place votes should have been enough. "Chip" had disappeared. I was getting ready to hug Sterne. Then the producer announced the results.

Jackson, I believe, came in fourth. Bram was third; "where the [bleep] is that tortilla chip?" he yelled. Sterne was announced as the runner-up. Bedlam ensued. I think I began cursing. Lindsay had won. She wasn't even there. She had to leave early to go to work.

I went nuts. My notes indicate that Mike Wise and Bobby Boswell were also outraged. I know at some point I was screaming at Brian Mitchell about the injustice of it all. I also loudly confronted forward-turned-defenseman-turned-forward Ben Clymer, who seemed to hint that his handler from the Caps (who's friendly with Lindsay) had filled out his ballot for him!!!!!!!

"Chip" was still nowhere to be found. I was ready to blame everything on her. But then, I somehow wound up stealing her scoresheet. Perhaps it's unethical, but I needed to know the truth. This is what she had: Sterne 23, Bram 21, Monica 20, Lindsay 20, Rosenberg 18, Jackson 10. (I realize that by printing this, I'm likely disqualifying myself from future judging panels, and also creating an irrevocable split between Scott Jackson and "Chip," but such is the price of the truth.)

So what we know for absolute certain is this: me and "Chip," combined, had Sterne with a five-point lead over anyone else, and a six-point lead on Lindsay. I'm positive Mike Wise had Sterne first, but I don't know by how much. Bobby Boswell, like I said, also had Sterne first. So at a minimum, if everyone did their math correctly and told me the truth, Sterne had a seven-point lead over Bram and an eight-point lead over Lindsay going into Clymer's ballot. Clymer!

Here's the text of an e-mail I got from a source at WTEM SportsTalk 980:

Perhaps you can Bog about how nice it was to meet some new friends from SportsTalk 980 -- and how terrible it was to judge a competition with the Capitals' very own Marie Reine Le Gougne...That was cold...


I went to Caps practice on Wednesday morning to confront Clymer.

"I'm standing by my voting," he said.

But upon further questioning, he cracked, revealing that his official ballot had Lindsay in first place, just one point ahead of Sterne. One point!

Well, there it is folks. Unless one of us added wrong or one of the judges lied to me, Sterne won by a minimum of seven points. Wasn't even close. And somehow, Lindsay Czarniak wound up with the trophy. I'm telling you, something rotten happened that night. I was part of a process that I now regard as corrupt, invalid, malicious, outrageous and unjust. I rescind my name from this debacle. Marc Sterne is my champion.

By  |  10:43 AM ET, 11/17/2006

Categories:  Weirdness, Weirdness, Weirdness, Weirdness

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