Photo: Business Insider/Grace Wyler
Retirement seems to agree with Arlen Specter. On the eve of the release of his new book, Life Among The Cannibals, the former Pennsylvania Senator hit New York’s amateur comedy scene, delivering a hilarious — and surprisingly R-rated — standup routine to a small crowd at Caroline’s Comedy Club in Time Square Monday.
Specter, who served in the Senate for 30 years, seemed right at home among the tourists and comedy fans who had come out for the club’s weekly New Talent night.
“I’ve been in the Senate for 30 years — that’s lots of experience in comedy,” Specter started off, to laughter from the audience. “But there wasn’t a lot of experience standing up.”
Although his routine was short — Specter only spoke for about 10 minutes — the former Senate firebrand definitely lived up to his old “Snarlin’ Arlen” reputation with a series of snarky jokes about his former political colleagues.
Here are some of the best lines of the night:
On former President Bill Clinton:
“I called him up to congratulate him on his 65th birthday, and I said, ‘How do you feel?’ He said ‘Arlen I feel like a teenager. The problem is I can’t find one.'”
On former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:
“I’ve known Newt for so long, I knew him when he was skinny…I’ve known him for so long, I knew his first wife — and all his girlfriends.”
On Herman Cain:
“Herman Cain has always had a problem with grammar. No matter how hard his teachers tried, the couldn’t convince Herman Cain that harass was one word.”
On former President Ronald Reagan:
“We were talking about missiles and phallic symbols, and his eyes rolled over, and he said ‘Arlen, did you hear the one about our sending condoms to the Soviets? 16-inches long, marked radium?'”
“That’s a true story,” Specter added.
On late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy:
“So I was sitting there enjoying the [Senate gym] hot tub when in comes my colleague Ted Kennedy, in his birthday suit. 285 pounds. Teddy flops into the hot tub like a walrus. You know the story of rising tide lifts all ships? Well my head hit the ceiling.”
Specter closed out the show with an old adult joke about a quadriplegic who answers a personals ad, giving it his own twist by calling it “the story of the legislative achievement of when we passed the Americans With Disabilities Act.”
Enjoying a martini in his dressing room after the show, Specter told Business Insider that he was pleased with his Broadway comedy club debut.
“It was fun,” Specter said, noting that it is his third time performing standup.
“When my toughest critic tells me it was well-done, I think I’ve won the jury,” he added, smiling at Joan, his wife of more than 50 years.
“You’re always nervous when you’re husband is performing in a field he hasn’t spent his life in,” she told BI. “But I thought it went very well.”
So does the former Senator have enough material for a repeat performance?
“Oh, I’ve got lots,” Specter said. “If I got invited, I’d give it serious consideration. My dance card is open.”
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