JWR Julia's mischegoss

May 15, 1998 / 19 Iyar, 5758

Susan McDougal: a real stand-up kinda guy

By Julia Gorin

IN HER APRIL 23RD TESTIMONY, Susan McDougal proved to the Clintons what a stand-up guy she really is. But to listen to her performance you could see her potential to become a stand-up comic instead. Of course if all you did was listen, you went away thinking her testimony revealed nothing. But actually McDougal's brand of humor is quite revealing. To catch the punchlines you only had to read between her teeth. Below is an actual transcript of the set she did for a grand jury at a Little Rock courthouse, where she played to a crowd that's no stranger to veiled high comedy.

SET-UP: Ms. McDougal, do you understand that Judge Wright ordered you to come today and testify before the grand jury?

PUNCHLINE: I will not answer any question you make to me, because I believe you're conflicted and you have no right to ask me.

TRANSLATION: Now why would I answer any questions when Bill is going to pardon me just as soon as this is over?

SET-UP: Do you understand that Judge Wright considered that argument yesterday and rejected it?

PUNCHLINE: You do not have any right to ask me questions. You are totally conflicted.

TRANSLATION: Can we please hurry things along and issue my sentence, so I can be pardoned from it?

SET-UP: Ms. McDougal, you signed this check. Is that correct?

PUNCHLINE: May I go out and see my attorney?

TRANSLATION: May I go to the bathroom?

SET-UP: Would you please answer the question first?

PUNCHLINE: May I go out and see my attorney--Sir?

TRANSLATION: I really gotta go.

SET-UP: Yes, Ms. McDougal.

PUNCHLINE: May I take that [check]?

TRANSLATION: I'm gonna be a while. I'll need something to read.

SET-UP: What did you mean by the notation "Payoff Clinton" on the check?

PUNCHLINE: I don't believe your office has the right to ask me any questions.

TRANSLATION: I have a better idea: I'll mail it to the White House, so they can say it never existed.

SET-UP: What did you mean by the notation "Payoff Clinton"?

PUNCHLINE: If you really believe there's a crime, let somebody investigate it who might not be so prejudiced.

TRANSLATION: Like Hillary! She used to be a prosecutor. Why don't you bring her in to ask the questions she thinks are relevant?

SET-UP: Can you tell us exactly what that check was for?

PUNCHLINE: I would love to tell you everything I know about it, but not with these people running the investigation. I don't believe they're interested in the truth. I really don't.

TRANSLATION: They've hardly made me an offer as appealing as the Clintons'.

SET-UP: The jury makes the decision. We won't make any decision about how any of this information isó

PUNCHLINE: But they only show you what they want you to know. You don't know everything.

TRANSLATION: Like the $10 million Bill and Hillary will be paying me after my pardon. That's even more than they paid that NOW woman.

SET-UP: So you are refusing to answer the grand juror's questions?

PUNCHLINE: I told you I would not answer you. If you want to resign and get an independent counsel to investigate this, I will answer their questions.

TRANSLATION: Did I mention the new identity The Clintons promised me? They're going to relocate me to Hawaii, where they've arranged a $200,000-a-year waitressing job for me --- if I get bored and want to work.

SET-UP: Are you refusing to answer my question?

PUNCHLINE: I'm refusing to answer any question that any of the three of you pose to me. I would love to answer the grand jury's questions, but they don't have anyone in here that will take this investigation where it needs to go.

TRANSLATION: Start with a private yacht, then maybe some beachfront property --- and then I'll consider answering your questions, Morons.

SET-UP: Two members of the grand jury asked you questions. Are you refusing to answeró

PUNCHLINE: Resign and I'll answer your questions.

TRANSLATION: Did I mention the plastic surgery they're going to pay for? I've always wanted a narrower nose. Besides, I'm starting to look too much like that Kathy Bates character in Primary Colors.

SET-UP: Ma'am, if you'll just wait until he finishes his question before you answer, so I can write it down.

PUNCHLINE: I shouldn't have to listen to his sermons, though, do you think?

TRANSLATION: I'm bored. Can we break for lunch?

SET-UP: This has been going on for two years, too, for us.

PUNCHLINE: It's been since 1985 for me. OK? You think I don't want it over? You think I don't want to answer your questions? You think it's not serious for me?

TRANSLATION: I'm serious. Hurry up. Have you seen my prison guard Tommy? He looks like Antionio Banderas! He could have picked any girl at the penn, but he picked me. Of course, at first he didn't think he was attracted to me. But Bill and Hillary managed to convince him that he was being a bit short- sighted about things.

SET-UP: And we're not going to permit this usurpation of--

PUNCHLINE: No, because you don't want them to hear from me...Get another independent counsel, and I'll answer every question.


In summation, Ms. McDougal shows a lot of promise as a budding stand-up comedienne. She employs excellent use of what we in comedy term the "call-back" technique--using repetition to refer back to an earlier bit. Her rhythm is consistent, the delivery smooth and, most importantly, she believes in the character.

JWR's Julia Gorin is a stand-up comic and commentator whose work has appeared on National Public Radio, in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, among other national media.


2/98: A fun-house painted white
1/1/98: In defense of the appetizing shiksa (taking on Kate Winslet's critics)
12/10/98: Confessions of a Refusenik gone secular

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