Comedian Joan Cushing, who has been performing here since the late 1960s, started out at piano bars playing show tunes, standards by Gershwin and Cole Porter and some classics, "and got bored with that."
One night she decided it would be funny to do a certain song wearing a hat.
"It worked, so every time I performed I'd bring in a new character with a hat," she says now.
Cushing's program tonight at Charlie's Georgetown will parade some of the characters to which the piano-playing comic has given notoriety in eight years of Fridays and Saturdays at the Cafe Lafayette.
There's the secretary, addicted to Wite-Out, who works as a temporary on the top floor of the USA Today building. "She falls in love with a man who flies by her window in an airplane and she's waiting for him to come back."
Ms. Representation, a congresswoman, does a song about "hanging out at the Pentagon Motel. In order for women to have true equality," Cushing explains, "we have to have somebody sleazy in national office."
Mrs. Foggybottom, a socialist who knows anybody who's anybody but "has absolutely no idea what's going on" will be at Charlie's talking and singing about "the latest rage, like getting arrested for demonstrating against apartheid -- but she doesn't even know what apartheid is," or going to Nicaragua to meet a terrorist.
Alas, there is presently no Mr. Foggybottom. "But I'm getting married in June," says Cushing, who divides her professional time between D.C. and New York. "So I guess there will be one then."