Al Franken: Unfunny, with an excuse

A reader has kindly forwarded us today’s Roll Call “Heard on the Hill” (HOH) column by Mary Ann Akers on Al Franken. The article is of special interest to those of us in Minnesota, where Franken has expressed interest in running against Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008. The Minneapolis Star Tribune somehow missed the story reported here:

Franken Speaking. It was definitely drugs. But it wasn’t the leafy kind that everybody in the club suspected (or so he says).
Comedian Al Franken was on stage rocking back forth, slurring his words in a rambling, profanity-laced invective at Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s (D-R.I.) midnight closing celebration Thursday at the Avalon nightclub in Boston. Much of the crowd appeared dumbfounded as Franken took the microphone and sounded like he’d just downed a fifth and maybe smoked a little something, too.
“Oh my God! Does Franken always get this hammered?” whispered one of the convention planners over by the sound board. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him live,” answered another. And everybody HOH asked said they, too, thought Franken was in an altered state.
Franken, a host for liberal radio network Air America, was alternately hilarious and unintelligible during his routine. He opened with a slurring rendition of a joke about the infinite number of Kennedys roaming Boston, calling Patrick Kennedy “the eighth most impressive Kennedy I’ve ever met.” And then he mumbled some things we couldn’t quite make out about Iraq. And then,”If Dick Cheney were here, he’d say ‘go fuck yourselves.'”
Funny joke. But all we in the audience could make out was the “F'” word part without the context, which was lost along with what we suspected were several brain cells, too. Kennedy was looking a little uncomfortable himself.
Franken supplied a good explanation during a phone conversation with HOH on Friday while he rode the train back to New York, where Air America is based.
“Did I really sound that drunk?” he asked. Yes, HOH said, recounting to him what others in the club said, too. “Oh no,” he said, sounding weary and horrified.
Poor Franken. It turns out he had developed a severe migraine on the final day of the convention, after having been on the floor since 7 o’clock that morning, “eating crap all week,” not drinking enough water and catching just a few hours of sleep each night.
“I was in pain,” Franken said. “I had not had a drink all day. I was very tired and had a migraine and took something called Maxalt.” As much as he may have been tempted to cancel, Franken said he wanted to keep his commitment to Kennedy.
“The very last place you want to be with a migraine is a nightclub. If anyone was drunk it was supposed to be the people in the crowd,” Franken said. (They were. Don’t worry, HOH can attest to that.)
Kennedy told HOH he “felt terrible” for Franken and thought about asking him not to go forward with the comedy routine. But Franken insisted. And Kennedy said he thought Franken was “wonderful to do it.”
HOH asked Franken what some of the other one-liners were that we couldn’t understand at the party. He said his favorite was a quip about the massive balloon drop. “What a balloon drop. Especially impressive were the ones shaped like stem cells.”
Sorry we missed it! But the party was still a huge success, with the band Cracker rocking the house ’til the wee hours of the morning.

Do you suppose Cracker might have followed Franken’s monologue with a rendition of its song “Loser”? Or “Don’t Fuck Me Up (With Peace and Love)”?
UPDATE: Dr. Michael Wolfe has written to render his professional opinion: “As a medical doctor I can tell you that Maxalt was not responsible for his condition. He was probably fucked up.”


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