Denise Whiting, Michael Steele vying for Baltimore's funniest

Funny Whiting. Funny Steele.
(Sun file photos)

Though neither is known for joking around, beleagured restaraunteur Denise Whiting and former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele will be among those competing for the title of Baltimore's Funniest Celebrity.

The Cafe Hon owner and the former face of the Republican party will vie for the title against musician Deanna Bogart, one-time city council candidate De’von Brown,  meteorologist Steve Fertig, news anchor Jeff Barnd and Baltimore Sun sports columnist Peter Schmuck. 

If most of those folks don't strike you as particularly funny, that's exactly the point, says Richard Siegel, the founder of the event, which will happen for the second time in Baltimore on June 27. The contest has been running for 18 years in D.C.

"I think people that are serious are funny because people don't expect it -- which is funny," says Siegel, a long-time stand-up comedy performer. "If you have low expectations, people can be a scream and I think Ms. Whiting falls into that category." 

Last year in Baltimore there was a very funny rabbi, sportscaster Jennifer Royle ("I don't know if she was known for being funny when she meant to be," said Siegel) and news anchor Patrice Harris who Siegel says he was able to coach from completely unfunny into third place.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld won, blowing the competition away with a joke about -- of all things -- crack.

Contestants in D.C. have included everyone from Arriana Huffington to congressmen to Ralph Nader, whose very essence might be the polar opposite of "funny." 

The judges in Baltimore are an attraction themselves, including former mayor Sheila Dixon, who showed her own sense of humor by allowing herself to be roasted for charity earlier this year -- another Siegel-sponsored event.

The winner gets glory, of course, but also a trophy of a smile-faced stick figure.

Siegel has his money on Steele, who he suspects has the best foundation for funny of the competitors. Steele once called for a boycott of David Letterman after the late show host made some crude jokes about Sarah Palin's daughter.

"I think Michael Steele is going to override expectations," Siegel predicted. "He has a lot of charisma."

The comedian calls Bogart the wildcard, sensing hidden humor in all her blues.

The 2nd Annual Funniest Celebrities in Baltimore Contest will happen at 8 p.m. June 27 at the Baltimore Comedy Factory. Tickets are $100 and most of the proceeds will go to the Fuel Fund of Maryland, which helps families pay their utility bills.

"Just know the bar is very low," Siegel says. "It's really very, very low."


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