Biographies & Memoirs Mark Katz Clinton & Me

ISBN 13: 9780786869497

Clinton & Me

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9780786869497: Clinton & Me

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.

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About the Author:

Mark Katz is a speechwriter and humorist whose essays have been published in the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time, and aired on NPR. He is the founder of the Sound Bite Institute and lives in New York City.

From 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.
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