And later, he quoted some of the nastier-than-usual tweets he’s been getting. “One said ‘He’s a house N,” he said, pausing for effect. “I’m in the Senate!” And when people call him “Uncle Tom”? He reminds them “My name is Tim!”
The crowd, made up of mostly journalists, lawmakers and Hill staffers, laughed. Were the chuckles at all uncomfortable? The wine was flowing, so who knew?
Scott’s edgiest bit came when he flashed a photo on the big screens showing Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization he has declined to join. Butterfield looks white, Scott noted. “Why would I want to join a black group run by a white dude?” he asked. “In the south, we call that a plantation.”
Richmond followed, pulling some of the same comedic threads. Much of his material was aimed at President Trump and his administration, though, including an opening salvo riffing on Trump’s recent shout-out to famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “Let’s start out with some basic facts. … Frederick Douglass, by the way, is dead, and in fact he died in 1891, so if anyone feels obligated, please let the White House know that.”
Richmond got the biggest laughs-slash-gasps with a joke about Stephen K. Bannon, the top Trump adviser who, as head of Breitbart News, gave the alt-right a platform. Bannon, Richmond suggested, might need a haircut or maybe some stronger hair products. “Every time he goes to his meeting, I know exactly where he’s been, because when he snatches that hood off, the hair comes up.”
Both men, in more serious moments, gave shout-outs to the news media and thanked the foundation for giving out a fellowship in honor of Gwen Ifill, the longtime PBS host who died this year.
Afterward, we caught up with Scott, who admitted that the evening’s humor might have been just a touch edgier than the crowd was expecting. But he said he hoped it was all in good fun. “I mean, it was pretty much PG, right?”