A former creative consultant to the Democratic National Committee, Mark Katz helped pen gags for President Clinton’s appearances at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, working in what administration insiders playfully dubbed their “comedy war room.”
One joke — written in 1998, following the Monica Lewinsky and White House fundraising scandals — never saw the light of day.
“It was, ‘Looking back, maybe I should have raised money in the Oval Office and had sex in the Lincoln Bedroom,’” said Mr. Katz, who now heads a New York City-based humor consulting company called the Soundbite Institute.
“I knew that was going nowhere. At the White House, people are very blunt about what lines you cannot cross.
“Still, my instincts are to address those topics. You have to. If you can figure out the worst thing your opponent can say about you and find a way to joke about it, you’ve disarmed them. There’s power in that. But there are rules of the road you need to understand.”
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Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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