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May 17, 2007

"I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to make you laugh"

If someone came up to you and said, "I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to make you laugh," you'd probably run quickly in the other direction. Because there's only one funny federal government joke I'm aware of. It's this:

"A man from out of town takes a cab up to the front entrance to a huge government building in Washington, D.C. He looks out the window in amazement at the sheer size of the building, and he says to the cab driver, 'How many people work in this building?' The cab driver thinks for a second and says, 'Oh, about half.'"
If you can believe it, federal government employees are competing to be crowned "D.C.'s Funniest Fed" by participating in a series of stand-up routines. Having read this article, though, my advice to them is: "Don't quit your day jobs." Here's one of the jokes that people thought was funny: "What do you expect? I'm a GS-12, but I'm a GS-12 at the Census Bureau. In Census years that's nothing!"

I'll tell you what's really funny. Seriously. It's subversive federal government humor. My Justice Department source reports that, in a glass case with a display about DOJ's new National Security Division, he saw stuffed dolls of Boris Badenov, Natasha, and Fearless Leader. He refused to send me a photo or to try to find out who was responsible. I think he was afraid that if he did, he'd be testifying before Congress next week.

UPDATE (6/18): One of the strange things about running a blog -- even a low-traffic blog like mine -- is that life sometimes catches up to you. I got an email last week from Shahryar Rizvi, the Census Bureau comic who made the joke I gently mocked above. Shahryar insisted that the joke fell flat in the Post's article and needed context, so he gave me links to videos of his routine. Having watched all of them now, I still don't think much of the joke, but I give him a lot of credit for putting himself on the line, without using a fake name like mine. (I assume Shahryar Rizvi isn't a fake name, anyway.) So to be fair to him, I'm going to let you judge for yourself at these three links: Here (go back to Week 1), here, and here (you'll need Quicktime version 7).