Clinton and Me: A Real Life Political Comedy by Mark Katz, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Clinton and Me: A Real Life Political Comedy

Clinton and Me: A Real Life Political Comedy

by Mark Katz
     
 
When you provide the comic relief for the Leader of the Free World, the line between funny and weird can get a little blurry. Consider the extraordinary experiences of Mark Katz, the in-house humor writer of the Clinton White House, whose job was to produce the president's comic response to the crisis du jour. For eight tumultuous years, he wrote Bill Clinton's annual

Overview

When you provide the comic relief for the Leader of the Free World, the line between funny and weird can get a little blurry. Consider the extraordinary experiences of Mark Katz, the in-house humor writer of the Clinton White House, whose job was to produce the president's comic response to the crisis du jour. For eight tumultuous years, he wrote Bill Clinton's annual series of humorous speeches to the Washington press corpsthose rare evenings in the nation's capital when the president trades in his bully pulpit for an open mike. In a town where C-SPAN passes for entertainment, Katz faced the sometimes surreal task of finding the funny in an administration rocked by politics and partisanship; Whitewater and Waco; Dr. Elders and Henry Hyde; andultimatelythe circus of impeachment. Here, too, are the unlikely adventures of an itinerant wiseass careening down the bumpy path that takes him from the principal's office to the Oval Office. After college, Katz hitched his wagon to Michael Dukakis's staronly to become the joke writer for a campaign that was a joke unto itself. Four years later, he was an unemployed advertising copywriter in need of a job when he got a call from a Clinton White House desperately in need of jokes. And the rest, as they say, is comedy.

With fearless and irreverent wit, Mark Katz chronicles the triumphs, tribulations, and power players of an eventful presidency from a unique vantage pointa lone humorist embedded deep inside the chaotic West Wing. Dramatic, revealing, intimate, and uproarious, Clinton & Me is an epic comic journey and a once-in-a-lifetime look at the funny business that is American politics.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Within the Beltway, the "Silly Season" is confined to the first three months of the year, when the Gridiron Club, the White House Correspondents' Dinner and the Alfalfa Club (a group of Washington insiders) ask important politicians, including the president, to deliver funny speeches. Clinton's designated joke writer was Katz, who wrote Clinton's speeches for these affairs as well as speeches for Al Gore and Madeleine Albright. Katz found his comedy writer niche after considerable experience as a class clown; after graduating from Cornell, he successfully dodged what he calls the "Vietnam of [his] generation" an L.A. Law-inspired courtroom career. In 1988 Katz entered politics as a member of Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign staff. His description of writing for this "pathologically unfunny" man is a comic delight. Katz made a brief foray into advertising, but then, thanks to relationships with Dee Dee Myers and George Stephanopoulos, former Dukakis staffers then in the Clinton White House, Katz landed a spot writing for POTUS through the notably unfunny Contract for America, Whitewater and Monica episodes. It is humor that Katz cares passionately about, not politics. As he says, "I like Al Gore. Comedy meant a lot to him and that meant a lot to me." He sends his jokes, hundreds of which are included here, into the world with the same pride, and angst, that parents feel when sending their children off to college. This quality is endearing and softens the rougher edges of his humor, which often involves the odd juxtaposition of self-deprecation and self-aggrandizement. Happily, he is often very laugh-out-loud funny. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A funny thing happened to Katz, self-acknowledged high school class "wiseass"; he became President Clinton's "Senior Advisor for Mirth and Jocularity." This engaging memoir by Katz, who served as Clinton's chief joke writer, is laced with humor and fascinating insights into the serious, high-pressure business of penning presidential jokes. After college, Katz served as an aide for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who taught him how to make a good martini. He then became a member of the 1988 Dukakis campaign, where he struck up a friendship with future Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, who brought Katz to Clinton's attention. During Clinton's two terms, Katz provided jokes for both the President and Vice President Gore for the annual barb-filled rites-the Gridiron and the White House Correspondents dinners and many other speeches in which humor was an asset. In addition to the many howlers, Katz shares some insightful stories about the process of comic writing-what is acceptable humor and what isn't, what happens to writers who cross the fine line between anonymity and celebrity, and how some journalists betrayed their professional ethics by releasing unconfirmed stories about Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in an effort to out-sensationalize their competition. Strongly recommended for all public libraries. [For an interview with Katz, see p. 142.-Ed.]-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Katz fits snugly into his self-described role as an "emotionally needy joke writer" for the Clinton administration, though readers get all 40 of his years in this memoir. Clinton was in the market for what Katz had to sell: self-deprecating humor, the idea being that if you step in it, it's better to join in the merriment than to be laughed at. Of course, the president gave his gagman lots of good raw material. But Katz's favorite topic is himself, so he starts at the beginning, with his years as the grade-school clown, and gets off some good lines when he moves on to college ("Once an East Coast epicenter of 1960s social activism . . . the Cornell I attended was a petri dish for Yuppie scum") and post-grad studies ("Law school was the Vietnam of my generation, a quagmire where promising young lives were needlessly wasted or damaged forever"). Biding his time as Daniel Moynihan's gofer, Katz gets a crack of writing humor material for Michael Dukakis-can't say he doesn't like a challenge-and here he tenders some of his better stuff, from "Hi, I'm Mike Dukakis. And these are my eyebrows" on the low side to "Some people say I am arrogant, but I know better" on the high. Katz is looking for a job soon enough, but school chum George Stephanopoulos rescues him from ad copywriting. What follows mostly explains (in considerable detail) how he arrived at the jokes Clinton slung at the Gridiron Dinner or the Correspondents' Dinner. For good measures, Katz throws in scenes of jousting with nemesis Al Franken and bares his self-doubts: "Writing these semantic jokes that were narrowly construed to fortify falsehoods, had I finally turned into a goddamn lawyer?" All of which begs the question: Who waspaying this guy's salary? "Humor writers are funny people who are constantly in the process of convincing the world that they are indispensably funny." In a nutshell. (b&w illustrations, not seen) Author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786869497
Publisher:
Miramax Books
Publication date:
02/28/2004
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Age Range:
13 Years

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