Were those groans from the audience at the 20th annual “funniest celebrity in Washington” contest on Wednesday night? Or was that just the sound of the event  itself, a wizened monument to the egos of Marginally Important Men, creaking with age?

The signs of its obsolescence were on display: the sole female contestant was deemed “adorable,” and much of the material — delivered by a lineup of amateur comedians you might otherwise see on a slow cable-TV news day — was of a vintage variety. Ever hear the one about when Bob Dole took a pie to the face?

You’re not missing out.

“That guy?” was the reaction of one of the audience members leaving the event, which was held in the auditorium of the glistening NPR headquarters in NoMa, about the winner. He was referring to former congressman and Clinton-era agriculture secretary Dan Glickman, who took the evening’s top prize.

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Glickman’s act (which included Dole and the pie, the punch line of which was “I don’t think you’re in Kansas any longer”) might have made him the most amusing guy at the Thanksgiving table. His “jokes” were mostly gently humorous and self-deprecating stories. But side-splitting it wasn’t.

The contest, which for most of its two decades passed little money onto the charities it purportedly benefited, this year ditched the pretense of good causes. Instead, organizer and emcee Richard Siegel told us, its sole purpose was to give Washingtonian’s with heavy day jobs the rare chance to lighten up.

And so the likes of Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist (the third-place winner) could play stand-up comedian for a night. His apolitical material included a bit about trying to earn money by inventing a disposable end table. “It’s called the ‘One-Night Stand.'”

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Har-har.

And USA Today columnist Clarence Page had a joke riffing about a recent headline in which the wife of a known terrorist escaped in Lebanon. “She probably went shopping,” he concluded. That snagged him honorable mention.

Heather Higgins, the head of the right-leaning Independent Women’s Forum and the only woman among the half-dozen vying for the title, acknowledged the gender imbalance, warning women in the audience to be careful. “Our bartender is Bill Cosby,” she said.

Low points also included an almost unwatchable video featuring Siegel crooning an unintelligible parody song about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the tune of the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” (um, the nineties called!) as two scantily clad women writhed around him.

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During a break in the action, Seigel introduced another of his performances — this one a live rendition, accompanied by a piano, of a ditty called “Hotel of Saddam” to the tune of “Hotel California” — with a line he immediately disproved: “There’s something funny about everything.”

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