September 26, 2022

LAUGH RIOT: GOP NH Governor Sununu sends up Trump for laughs at Gridiron Club dinner

GOP NH Governor Sununu sends up Trump for laughs at Gridiron Club dinner

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Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) is not particularly known for his comedic skills, but his performance at last night’s annual Gridiron Club dinner “killed” in comedic parlance with the audience, made up primarily of members of Washington DC’s oldest political journalist organizations.


Much like the rival White House Correspondents’ Association event, the Gridiron Club dinner is known as a place where journalists and politicians participate in the political equivalent of a Comedy Central roast with a no-holds-barred brand of humor aimed at the most powerful people in government or recently voted out of office.

After two years in which the annual dinner was canceled due to COVID restrictions, the dinner — which has typically included the sitting president among its guests — returned this year with only a short appearance via video by President Joe Biden.

Biden set the expectations of the Gridiron Club dinner as an event where the powerful get skewered when he explained in his video message that:

“I get the sense even if I’m not at the dinner, I’m going to be on the menu,” Biden said.

The President apologized for not appearing at the dinner in person, quipping:

“I really wanted to be with you tonight, but the truth is I just couldn’t find a 7-hour-and-37-minutes gap in my schedule.”

With only two Republican senators in attendance this year — Susan Collins (R-ME) and the retiring Roy Blunt (R-MO) — and no House GOP members deigning to attend, the broadsides that got the most audience reaction at the Gridiron Club dinner were primarily aimed at Republican targets, most notably the former president, Donald Trump.

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As the featured Republican who was addressing the crowd this year, New Hampshire Governor Sununu got what was reportedly the biggest laughs of the evening with his comments about what GOP leaders in Washington “privately” whisper among themselves about Trump.

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“You know, he’s probably going to be the next president,” Sununu began, before extolling the “experience,” “passion,” “sense of integrity” and the “rationale” that Trump revealed in his social media posts.

As an uncomfortable quiet settled on the room more attuned to comic putdowns than campaign propaganda at these events, Sununu paused for a brief moment before hitting the audience with the unexpected punchline and an F-bomb.

Nah, I’m just kidding! He’s FUCKING CRAZY!” the New Hampshire Republican shouted as the crowd exploded with laughter.  “ARE YOU KIDDING?! Come on. You guys are buying that? I love it … He just stresses me out so much! … I’m going to deny I ever said it.”

Sununu wasn’t done roasting Trump, however. He explained his assessment of Trump’s mental stability with this quip:

“The press often will ask me if I think Donald Trump is crazy. And I’ll say it this way: I don’t think he’s so crazy that you could put him in a mental institution. But I think if he were in one, he ain’t getting out!”

Sununu also related an anecdote about the time that Trump invited him to ride in the presidential limo during a trip to New Hampshire.

“The then-president suddenly stopped talking and pointed out the window at people lining the road holding American flags, saying, ‘They LOVE me!’ Only problem, said Sununu, was that the man he pointed to held a sign that read, ‘FUCK TRUMP,'” POLITICO reported from the dinner.

Trump wasn’t the only member of his own party that the New Hampshire governor held up for ridicule. Here’s what he had to say about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his meeting with members of the Freedom convoy that had descended upon Washington DC :

“Nobody really Cl why [the Convoy protesters are] in Washington in the first place — which pretty much describes Ted himself, right? … What is with Ted? You see that beard? … He looks like Mel Gibson after a DUI or something.”

Then there was this line about Trump ally and inveterate conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow:

“This guy’s head is stuffed with more crap than his pillows. And by the way, I was told not to say this, but I will: His stuff is crap. I mean, it’s absolute crap. You only find that kind of stuff in the Trump Hotel.”

Washington hasn’t seen this much Republican self-immolation since Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) released his plan to raise taxes on the poor and end Medicare and Social Security as we know it.

Sununu wasn’t the only politician who managed to get in the zingers last night. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House Select Committee on January 6th, scored several direct comedic hits on his GOP colleagues in the House.

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I was especially stunned that Madison Cawthorn and Matt Gaetz weren’t here, because nobody loves a good party more than those guys do. And so, I called Madison up to say, ‘What’s up, dude?’ And it turns out, it was a simple scheduling conflict: The Republicans have their own formal black-tie and white-powder orgy taking place tonight in the Capitol.

“But then I thought, well, why was Sen. Roy Blunt, who’s seated at table seven … not invited to this late-night meeting of the Sexual Freedom Caucus? I contacted the GOP Cocaine and Marijuana Study Group, and they explained it was all a BIG misunderstanding: They thought that ‘Roy Blunt’ was an alias for a local marijuana dealer, and they’re having a cocaine-themed event,” the Maryland lawmaker jested.

Raskin got another good shot at Gaetz with this one:

“For those of us who are in Congress … we rent our tuxedos for the very infrequent parties and occasional orgies we get invited to. Look, it’s really tough to find a rental tuxedo this time of year: It’s high school prom season, and Matt Gaetz keeps getting the tuxedos that I want.”

Perhaps if Republican politicians had a sense of humor and bothered to support the Gridiron Club Dinner, they might not be the butt of the majority of the barbs that were proffered last night. Then again, with a party that provides such a font of material on a daily basis, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t always dominate the ranks of satirical targets.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Rachael Bade at POLITICO and by Roxanne Roberts at The Washington Post.

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Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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