The Washington Post

Tweet of the Week, Vol. 14 – Mary Cheh’s got jokes

In which I highlight local tweets and analyze why they’re important relevant.

Not everyone is here for the funny, it appears. For the past couple years, Ward 3 Council member and George Washington University Law School Mary Cheh has released her “joke” budgets, in which she (or someone on her staff) mocks up recommendations for the next fiscal year’s budget. The results are sometimes witty, if you look real hard.

This year, a brief kerfuffle ensued in the ever-shrinking world of professional soccer pundits who care about MLS  in the District, when a few people took the release a little too seriously. One of the recommendations read, “Allocate $3.5 million for purposes of expediting the land deal necessary to enable the  building of the D.C. United stadium. … the new soccer stadium will be built directly on top of the Safeway in the Palisades. … Moreover, residents will not need to be concerned about increased traffic or loud noise because who really goes to D.C. United games.”

As a lifelong fan of D.C. United, and a lifelong avoider of the Palisades, that last line is hilarious.

Overall, though, this exercise in fun covers a relatively impressive amount of pop culture ground while still being hyper local enough for casual observers to get caught off guard. Nobody under the age of 25 likely thinks of a “hoverboard” as an sign of the future, but then again, by equating the DCPS lottery process to something more like the “Hunger Games,” you’ve covered quite a few bases. And who doesn’t love zip lines?

If we really wanted to take Mr. Archer’s point and run with it, a different question would come up. How sad is it that a sitting Council member has enough material to make plenty of  jokes about our current system of local government? While it might be funny for a comedian, the fact that D.C.’s elected officials can’t seem to stay out of trouble is pretty depressing. So, the recommendation to “provide District newspapers with a $167,500 grant for the institution of a weekly segment that covers criminal activities by government officials,” pokes fun at something that needs a solution. And the situation with the proverbial “war on cars” is actually an important one going forward for the growth of this city’s transportation networks.

Hopefully, that’s part of the gag: See? These are realistic problems that people think are hilarious! And people are more concerned about specifically getting fooled than looking at the root structural issues that cause the disparities! Now, it’s time to really fix them! (I highly doubt this.)

I love a good joke as much and the next guy, and per usual, this release made me laugh. But, as Wendy Rene famously sang on Stax Records in 1964, sometimes, “after your laughter there’ll be tears.”

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.



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