Hundreds of politicos shelled out $300 a pop last week to attend a roast of Jeff Schapiro, a longtime political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Roasters of the bow-tie-adorned Schapiro included the speaker of the House of Delegates, William J. Howell, and former Govs. Gerald L. Baliles, George Allen and Tim Kaine. While Howell might have a reputation as the Bob Newhart of the General Assembly, supposed nice-guy Kaine snagged the best laughs at the downtown Marriott luncheon, even trading a barb or two with presumed senatorial opponent Allen.
Speakers made reference to a handful of backroom tales, including a wild night at 3rd Street Diner and a rumor that Delegate Lacey Putney, age 83, had been an underwear model for Sears, Roebuck & Co. in his youth. The sold-out roast raised $171,000 for the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit that tracks political contributions in the state.
Some of the afternoon's best jokes:
Of Schapiro's 2,160 Twitter followers: "To put that in perspective, that's Jeff's immediate family and all the paid subscribers to the Times-Dispatch."
"Being called snarky by Jeff Schapiro is like being called a troublemaker by Osama bin Laden."
"What [Schapiro] lacks in genuine talent, he makes up in self-esteem. Psychologists have a medical term for this: it's called 'delusions of adequacy.'"
"I'm going to be followed by Gov. Kaine, who has the distinct advantage of having the White House speechwriters help him with his material. How am I going to be able to compete with the team that's produced so many knee-slappers for Tim over the years?"
"I know Bill [Howell] is glad to be done with the 2012 session, now nationally known as 'The Virginia Monologues.'"
"Ken [Cuccinelli], right there, uncharacteristically kind of being in the middle of the audience" -- followed closely with: "I don't know about you Ken, to me it's been unseasonably warm recently. I think it's maybe even a trend. I'm not going to get sued for saying that, am I?"
"[Schapiro's] clothes are louder than a Terry McAuliffe stump speech. … I didn't know Willy Wonka had a yard sale."
"I've got huge affection for Jeff. In fact, I would hug Jeff if it wouldn't make Bob Marshall so uncomfortable."
"I want to thank George [Allen] for being my opening act. … I'm just going to give you the quick recap of his speech in case you missed it: sports metaphor, sports metaphor, Thomas Jefferson, Keystone Pipeline, sports metaphor, Tim Kaine is Barack Obama, sports metaphor, patriots all."