Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Mart Russell, who shares with Art Buchwald the distinction of being the only Washingtonians paid to be funny, returned in triumph Monday evening to the Marquee Lounge in the Shoreham Americans.
Russell left the Shoreham in April and his separation was played out acrimoniously in the newspapers. All that was forgotten Monday, however, when Russell returned to his battered piano and turned his satiric gun on the White House.
With his uncanny ability to convert headlines into comedy, Russell waded into Jimmy Carter's latest embarrassment, the resignation of Dr. Peter Bourne. "I passed the White House on the way over here," said Russell, "and they were just putting up the Rexall sign."
That set the mood for the evening, as Russell expounded on the spate of resignations in the executive branch. Of course, Russell reported, Burt Lance tried to write prescriptions, but they kept bouncing.
Russell's list of targets Monday night included NBC President Fred Silverman ("He's to entertainment what the gumball is to gourmet cooking"), Carter's trip to Africa and South America ("It was planned by Amy's geography teacher"), and Alexandria, Va. ("The bingo and spy trial capital of the nation").
Russell appeared edgy in the first show Monday evening, but that should abate before his week-long stint the Shoreham is finished. His return to Washington is welcome, and comes at a time when humor is in short supply.
Listening to Russell warble about the need for nervous White House the tonic Washington requires.