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TRACI SKENE has appeared on VH-1's Standup Spotlight, A&E's Comedy On The Road and Lifetime's Girls Night Out, all of which has done her absolutely no good.

Traci Skene


Traci Skene

SHECKYmagazine Chief

"President of what?"

The late comedian Pat Paulsen-- who passed away in 1997-- last ran for President of the United States of America in 1996. I know this because my husband opened for him that year at the Punchline in Atlanta, Georgia. Surprisingly, in the subsequent eight years, two presidential elections have passed without another standup comic facetiously seeking this global leadership role. Sure John Stewart came close this year by being annointed "King of the Liberals" but his monarchy will always be in doubt from those who claim he was selected, not elected.

Now before you start printing up your Skene 08 bumper stickers, rest assured that I am not, in any way, suggesting that I plan to throw my hat into the political ring-- mostly because I don't wear hats-- but primarily because I would make a terrible candidate. Admittedly, I am very good at flipping flapjacks and kissing babies, but that would only serve me well during the primaries. The general election, I'm convinced, would be disasterous. Knowing me the way I do, there is positively no way I could make it through a presidential debate without punching somebody in the nose or bursting into tears. I guess I would have to schedule the debates around my mentstrual cycle. (Attention ladies: Please direct all hate mail to

Besides I'm too sarcastic to be a presidential candidate... even a fake presidential candidate. But wouldn't presidential campaigns be a lot more fun if the candidates could be sarcastic from time to time. Remember last winter when former Vice-Presidential nominee John Edwards was still a Presidential wannabee during the Democratic primaries? At the time, my favorite video was of him introducing himself to a middle-aged corn-fed Iowa woman by saying, "Hi. I'm John Edwards and I'm running for President." Her middle-aged corn-fed response was priceless, "President of what?"

Of course, at that point, he still thought he had a shot at the Oval Office so he behaved in the gentlemanly manner required of a man who wants to be the Big Cheese of the free world. But imagine if he could have said exactly what he was thinking? "President of what? I'm running for President of the Hair Club for Men. Just pull the lever next to the toupee."

See that's the kind of thing I would say. Which is why I will never be President of the United States.

It's also the reason why I refuse to campaign for anybody who wants to be President of the United States. It takes a certain type of tempermant--or shall I say a certain small number of brain cells--to deal with the well-meaninged but ignorant masses. I just don't have it in me. Even if it is all a joke.

I witnessed this frustration up close last Thanksgiving when I accompanied my 87-year old mother-in-law named Helen and her 88 year-old friend, also named Helen, to the Philadelphia Amtrak station. As we were sitting on the rock hard benches admiring the indoor pigeons, we were approached by a college-age young lady who handed us each a Clark bar with a tiny picture and bio of Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark stapled to the packaging. Her request was simple and straightforward, "I would like to ask you to vote for Wesley Clark for President." My mother-in-law, in all seriousness, asked the twenty-something campaign worker, "Are you his wife?" "No she said, I just want to help Wesley Clark become President of the United States." The other Helen, equally as serious, chimed in, "Does he live around here?" "No," the volunteer said slightly slower than before, "... um... he lives in Arkansas and... um... he's running for president." The first Helen studied her Clark bar more intently. "So" she asked, "does he make candy?"

The dispirited campaign worker left quietly as the two elderly Helens fixated on their free chocolate. The volunteer said nothing, but you know what she was thinking. "Yes, Clark makes candy bars and Kerry makes hand lotion and Dean... well Dean makes those round little sausages. And Sharpton makes those felt-tip markers that make you just a little high when you first take the cap off... "

See that's the kind of thing I would say... well, not to my own mother-in-law but certainly to somebody else's mother-in-law if she had said something equally as ridiculous.

I can honestly say that I haven't been that politically misinformed since I was seven-years-old. But at least then my age was an excuse for my perplexing statements. During the 1972 Presidential election, I ran away from home because my mother refused to tell me which candidate she had voted for. She explained to me, in her motherly way, that voting was a privelege and that it is our right as Americans to keep our vote secret and that it's an important part of our democracy and blah, blah, blah. Her explanation meant nothing to me! So, I ran away. Of course, running away consisted of walking around the corner and sitting on our neighbors step, but I think I made my point. After about an hour of a civic lesson that was going nowhere, my mother was furious. She marched around the corner, leaned forward until she was two inches from my face and screamed, "Nixon! Are you happy?! I voted for Nixon!"

As I dried my baby tears, I looked at her with my big brown eyes and asked in all earnestness, "Who's Nixon?"

My mother actually turned purple.

Thank goodness I didn't ask my follow-up questions: "President of what?"

Hmmm... maybe I could run for First Lady? But Traci, we don't vote for First Lady. True, but I think after witnessing the spectacle that is Teresa Heinz-Kerry all Democrats would agree that there should be a Constititional Amendment which allows constituents to vote seperately for President and First Lady.

Ideology aside, I'm not a big fan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry but it might have been fun to have a First Lady who could say "shove it" in five different languages. It certainly would have made things interesting. If we had given her four years in the White House, I guarantee she wold have out-Hillary'd Hillary. No tea and cookies for Teresa. No Tammy Wynnett "Stand By Your Man" for this billionaire bitch, no siree. Just 1,460 days of designer suits, stiff-backed hugs and condescending smiles. If Bill Clinton was the first black president then Teresa heinz-Kerry would have been the first self-proclaimed African-American first lady. Martin Luther King Jr. must be spinning in his grave.

To be honest, Teresa Heinz-Kerry scares the heck out of me. Mostly because I think she scares the heck out of John Kerry and I'm not sure we want a president who is afraid to go home at night. Have you ever seen the guy sitting alone in the tavern who sips his drink slowly desperately trying to stave off the inevitability of going home to the "little woman"? That's how I pictured John Kerry. I could just see him sitting at the bar in the Oval Office-- oh yeah he'd have a bar-- saying to John Edwards, "Ah come on, just one more drinky pooh. The night is young."

It only took a few days after this most recent election for John Kerry to announce that he may yet again seek his party's nomination in 2008. That gives him four more years to have Teresa's medication properly adjusted. Or it gives him four years to create and perfect his standup act. Maybe next time he could just run as a comedian instead of as a Democrat. I can just hear opening line to all of his speeches, "Take my wife... please." HOME Back to the Top