Front row from left: Jimmy Vickers, Donna Lewis, Joey Maranto and Freddi Vernell; Back row: Sam Beamon, Marshall Henry, Jeff Maurer, Don Heitman and Shahryar Rizvi; Not pictured is Scott Muschett
Rogue noodles are bobbing in the alphabet soup of our government. During the day they are straightlaced and by the book, commanding the halls of the EPA, the DOJ, the DOT and the CFTC, aspiring to make society run smoothly for us. By night, they are stand-up comics in the glare of the spotlight, aspiring to make us laugh.
Their official job titles are mini-dissertations on blandness. But remember: There aren't many jobs that are considered funny from the outset, says Jimmy Vickers, 23, a Loudoun County resident who has been writing stand-up routines for 10 years and works for the General Services Administration. He's also one of the 10 semifinalists in the first-ever Funniest Fed Competition at the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse.
"You're not going to see a Funniest Dentist," Vickers says. "Or Funniest Tax Attorney. Or Funniest Accountant."
Still, the stereotype of the lawyer or the accountant isn't as timeless as that of the bureaucrat, says Naomi Johnson, 38, producer of the show and a former fed herself.
"The juxtaposition of federal employees and humor -- that makes people stop and think, 'You gotta be kidding. They must be the most unfunny people,' " Johnson says.
Turns out some of them aren't. On Wednesday, you can see Vickers and nine other semifinalists (down from 32 contestants) use five-minute sets to prove that feds can command attention not just with budget deficits and terrorism alert levels, but with banter and charm. We sat through their sets. We grilled them on the phone. Here are mini job interviews with 10 comedians vying to become the Funniest Fed. Watch clips from their sets, then vote for the bureaucrat who most deserves the "Funniest Fed" title. | See the Latest Poll Results