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Franken Speaking


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. [IMGCAP(1)]

“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.

Eligible on J Date. If you are a Jewish woman between 42 to 52 who has “an old soul” and is “sensual, gracious, humble, fair, down to earth, playful, funny, musical, with a kind generous and loving heart,” then we may have found a good match for you.

A member of J Date, the online Jewish dating service, this bachelor describes himself as an avid swimmer, humorous/witty, intellectual, stubborn and romantic. He’s a 51-year-old divorced father of two teenagers from Fair Lawn, N.J., who likes rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, hiking and biking and reading.

He’s a Libra. He makes more than $100,000 a year. He’s 5 feet 8 inches with brown eyes. Job description: U.S. Congress.

He’s Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), who describes himself in his profile on J Date as a devoted father to his 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. He says he is “emotionally and financially secure and swims one to one and a half miles, three to four times a week. He enjoy “great food, wine, conversation, movies, music, theatre, books, family, friends, new people and the pleasure of a wonderful woman to be with me in the real world, or alone with me in our own.”

Rothman says he has a job “that I truly like and believe is noble and important in many ways.” And on a more philosophical, metaphysical level, the Congressman says in his pitch to eligible Jewish women, “I do my best, every day, to appreciate and enjoy life’s continuing and sometimes exhausting journey, with its steep climbs, comfortable straightaways, as well as its eye-opening turns, twists, sharp drops and, as often as possible, blissful, mountaintop experiences. As I tell my kids: ‘Every day is a gift.’”

His pitch seems to have been working. Rothman tells HOH that ever since his sister recommended J Date to him about a year ago, he has met “some really wonderful women” — journalists, doctors, lawyers and even a clinical psychologist (the woman he is seeing now), thanks to J Date.

In his online profile, Rothman says that special woman waiting out there should “have the willingness and natural disposition to continue to be open to learn what might be fun (so will I), what the truth is and what is just. She should be a person who loves and understands children and will know how — if and when this comes to pass — to try to establish just the right relationship with my kids.”

He also hopes she is between 5 feet, 2 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall. “As I want to be with this wonderful woman, I hope she thinks I’m a wonderful man and wants to be with me, too.”

Rothman said Friday that his goal is to get married again and joining an online dating service seemed a good way to go about achieving that. “I’m a modern guy. And this is what modern, single guys do.”

Camelot? It wasn’t exactly the kind of behavior you’d expect from America’s “royal family.” A giddy and laughing Eunice Kennedy Shriver was spotted Tuesday morning in Boston gliding around the lobby of the Marriott Copley Plaza Hotel on a bellman’s cart.

Some may have wondered if the 83-year-old matriarch of the Shriver wing of the Kennedy family was still partying from the night before, but sources tell HOH she was simply doing her grandmotherly duty by allowing daughter Maria Shriver’s children to push her around on the cart normally reserved for ferrying luggage around the hotel.

Sen. Phil Collins. CNN mistakenly thought that the guy who sang “Susudio” is now a Senator from Maine. The news crawl under a CNN broadcast of President Bush’s speech from Springfield, Mo. on Friday misidentified Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) as Sen. Phil Collins.

One week in Boston did seem like three months, and we all understand how weary journalists can make mistakes like that. We sure did!

Smiles, Everyone. Smiles. No drinking. No smoking. No chewing gum. Be enthusiastic. Smile. And — under no circumstances — should you speak to the media.

These are just a few of the rules included in a booklet of instructions handed out to thousands of volunteers, cab drivers and other workers last week at the Democratic National Convention. It was all part of the convention committee’s design to make Boston a happy, problem-free, family friendly Wonderland during the party’s big event, and turn the worker bees into shiny, happy people.

The DNC “courtesy guide” instructs Boston workers and volunteers: “Do not criticize event activities, fellow volunteers, Boston 2004, Inc. or the Democratic National Convention during public events. If you perceive a problem, seek to rectify it. Our purpose is to project a positive image of Boston and the convention.”

The mandate didn’t go over so well with cab drivers, a couple of whom expressed disgust with city officials for muzzling chatty-Cathy cabbies.

One African immigrant cabbie, who asked to remain anonymous, said he tossed his courtesy guide out he window because he was so offended at the level of condescension.

“I thought, ‘This is baloney,’” the driver told HOH. “You have to be the way they want you to be. It’s not fair.”

And then he laughed and added, “We don’t have the right to do anything.

But, ah, we have happiness.”

Unrest With Gay Donors. While the Boston convention was supposed to be happy-happy, joy-joy, at least one breakfast session last week deteriorated into testiness. At a Gay Caucus breakfast meeting on Wednesday, gay rights activist and Democratic donor David Mixner unleashed his unhappiness with the House Democratic leadership for being unable to stop passage of an anti-gay marriage bill two weeks ago. The measure, which aims to keep gay marriage challenges out of federal courts, passed handily with the support of 27 Democrats, most of them Blue Dogs.

Sources who attended the Gay Caucus meeting said Mixner complained to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about her inability to keep Democrats in line and stop the bill. As one gay rights activist put it: “Democrats just didn’t whip the amendment.”

Mixner could not be reached for comment. But one source who attended the breakfast meeting said Mixner not-so-subtly reminded Pelosi of the gobs of money he’s contributed to Democrats. As the source described it, Mixner’s message to Pelosi was “I own you.”

Pelosi basically said huh-uh, it doesn’t work that way. She insisted she did everything she could to block the amendment and appealed to Mixner and other gay donors to respect her tenuous double role as a liberal from California who champions gay rights and the Democratic leader who must rule from the center.

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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