By Dan Steinberg
Wednesday, June 16, 2010; D02
For D.C. sports fans, the worst seems to be over. The Wizards have the top pick and Ted Leonsis has taken over, hosting meet-and-greets with fans, inviting a full recitation of their concerns and hinting that the uniforms might revert back to those from the glory days. The grown-ups have seized control in Ashburn, importing a proven NFL quarterback and hinting that the uniforms may revert back to those from the glory days. The Nationals have the game's most electric draw and an improving core, and the uniforms have yet to revert back to those from the inglorious days.
So why in this, of all weeks, did a stand-up comic appear on NBC's "Last Comic Standing" with a routine about the horror of D.C. sports?
"That was taped in early March," explained Alycia Cooper, a Temple Hills comedian who advanced to the show's semifinals, partly on the strength of her jab at D.C. sports. "I feel optimistic, yes, but only time will tell."
Here's Monday's bit, although bear in mind that stand-up does not always translate into the printed word.
"I live in D.C., and for a sports fan, it's the worst place to live, because all of our teams suck," Cooper told the show's three judges. "The basketball team sucks. The baseball team sucks. The football team sucks. I had two Washington Redskins tickets on my dashboard. Somebody busted my window and put two Wizards tickets beside 'em."
"What?" asked judge Natasha Leggero, the only judge to vote "no" on Cooper's progression.
"The setup is good enough that even if you're not into sports, if you have half a brain you can figure it out," Cooper said when I asked whether she was worried about using D.C. sports material on a New York audience. "The Redskins have been around since the beginning of time. Now you may not know the Wizards, because they've only been the Wizards for about 16 years, but you can figure it out. That joke has never not worked."
But that's not the point. The point is that Cooper comes by the emotion in that joke honestly. Don't they say something about all comedy having its roots in tragedy?
"It's so sad what's happened to our sports teams," Cooper told me. "It affects my mood. This culture of losing is wearing me out. It's the truth. I'm a diehard D.C. sports fan, and I can't even join in any of the reindeer games, because we keep losing."
[Cooper might be happy to know that Stephen Strasburg helped the Nats earn their second-highest rating in MASN history on Sunday, meaning that the network's highest-rated Nats games have both involved young Mr. K Street.
She might also be cheered by the news that Strasburg will grace the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Of course, the last two D.C. athletes to do so were Jason Campbell (before going 4-12 and getting traded to the Oakland Raiders) and Georgetown's DaJuan Summers (right before the Hoyas were upset by Davidson in the 2008 NCAA men's basketball tournament). So maybe we should scratch that factoid.]
Cooper's typical sports routine includes extended riffs on Gilbert's gun play and the Nationals' uniforms, among other things. But she said she'd have no problem scrubbing them from her set list in the future.
"I'm looking forward to the day when those jokes don't work," she told me. "I'm looking forward to the day when those jokes no longer apply, and I have to retire them. I had some very good Gary Coleman jokes; I had to toss them all after last week. Sometimes things go the other way fast."