Political Humorist Returns to Old Gig

Posted November 7, 2007 at 6:26pm

More than four decades ago, Mark Russell debuted at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest Washington for a two-week engagement. He ended up staying 20 years. Now, the comedian, satirist and singer will return to his old haunt for a series of evening performances.

By the time Russell left the Shoreham in 1980, he had made the Marquee Lounge the place to be for the latest in political humor. Politicians would congregate to enjoy Russell’s jokes about what they had done that day and his plays off the headlines in a program laced with “political savvy and peppery satire,” according to an announcement of his return. The Omni Shoreham recently honored Russell with the renaming of The Marquee Lounge, which is now known as The Mark Russell Marquee Lounge.

“At any rate, I expect to go into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest living lounge-lizard, as opposed to the ones preserved in the Smithsonian,” Russell joked in a statement on his return.

Entertaining audiences, often at the expense of Washington politics and politicians, isn’t the only thing for which Russell is known. He spent much of the past 30 years on public television as host of the “Mark Russell Comedy Specials.” The comedian also writes a syndicated newspaper column that is still going strong and appears in 80 cities.

The latest venture marks a “return to the scene of my former crimes,” Russell said.

“Having performed at the Shoreham for 20 years, I took a brief 26-year hiatus and now I am back!” he noted in a pitch to lure his audience. “If I keep doing the act for another 20 years I will be 95 — at which time I may slow down a bit, depending on which Clinton or Bush is in the White House. So come see me at the Omni Shoreham, Mondays only, and we’ll dredge the Potomac for laughs.”

The series “Mondays with Mark” will debut Monday at 7 p.m., with a second performance at 9 p.m. Reservations can be made by phone at 202-756-5210 or by e-mail at mrussell@omnihotels.com. Tickets are non-refundable, prepaid and begin at $20 per person. Space is limited.