On Friday I was invited to join some friends at the annual Inner Circle roast. The Inner Circle is a group of City Hall press corps people who get together every year to spoof goings on in the City, State, and National scene. They also give a lot of money to local charities.
Okay, so it wasn't the actual roast, which is $500 a plate, but the dress rehearsal, which is free. Unfortunately, the dress rehearsal doesnt include the Mayors rebuttal (this year with the cast of The Man of la Mancha), which is what most of the articles focus on.
My friends who brought me are City government veterans. They knew all the players and all the stories, but sometimes they were a little behind on the pop-culture references. That's when I stepped in. For example, before the show started, they projected an image onto the screen next to the stage of a People Magazine cover with Benicio del Toro, Ben Afleck, and Deputy Mayor for Operations, Marc Shaw. I had to identify the two former and they had to explain to me who the fat bald guy was and that it was funny because he recently became the highest paid City official.
Overall, the show was good. Bad singing, bad dancing, funny satire: exactly what you would expect from the press corps, who, according to my friends, were all drama and a/v club types in high school. Predictably, the show started off with a song adapted from Chicago. And the show contained many references to the smoking ban and the budget crisis.
Surprises? The show was more patriotic than expected, being bookended by the singing of the National Anthem and America the Beautiful - without any visible sense of irony. The second half was pretty funny; my friends told me that it usually falls apart when they move on to national issues after the intermission. They couldn't manage to get the projectors working right through much of the show, so we were occasionally treated to images of a Mac desktop as someone struggled to find the right files. The crowd of older New Yorkers and City employees could be pretty damned bloodthirsty when it came to getting good seats at a free show. Okay, that one wasn't a surprise.
Ultimately, though, we were there to see Melissa Russo.