That thing about Sex and the City is not a jokey clickbait headline under which I'm actually going to teach you about some wonky shit happening at City Hall. That's a real thing that happened, and it was one of the highlights of last night's "The Seattle Process," a new local-politics-focused live show from joke teller/writer/podcaster/YouTube video maker Brett Hamil.
The show, held at the Northwest Film Forum, was a mix of standup comedy and segments with local left-wing VIPs (Kshama Sawant, Ijeoma Oluo, the women of Seattlish).
A lot of very important things happened, including:
• An apparently real and nearly naked photo of a council candidate was unearthed. (More on this below, including the actual nearly naked photo.)
• Mara Willaford and Marissa Johnson, the two Black Lives Matter activists who shut down Bernie Sanders in Seattle this summer, interrupted Hamil at one point (though it was planned) to tell jokes of their own.
Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford got jokes:
"Why did the white liberal cross the road?
To say he marched with King."
— Ansel (@Ansel) October 22, 2015
The two activists have declined almost all interview requests since their action, but it sparked a national conversation about the presidential candidate's positions on race and the Black Lives Matter movement. And even though their presence at the show wasn't a surprise to Hamil, it still produced the right kind of discomfort among a sold-out and largely white audience that didn't seem quite sure what to expect.
• Seattlish suggested some locally themed costume ideas, which included an angry, red-faced Ed Murray carrying around a giant phone ready to shout at reporters. As 1/3 of Seattlish, Hanna Brooks Olsen, put it: "This is a real spooky thing for those of us who work in media."
• Hamil told candidates that if they showed up he'd give them a minute to say whatever they wanted. Michael Maddux, the looser cannon of the two young urbanist dudes running in northeast Seattle's District 4, took that opportunity to share something we can never unsee:
I need to say that my baseline assumption about the world is that everything is a lie, so I thought this was photoshopped. Hamil says it was not. Apparently, Maddux voluntarily sent this to him. And, apparently, Maddux has an infinity tattoo.
With that photo projected behind him, Maddux, for once, didn't actually have much to say.
• Citywide council candidate Jon Grant also got up to speak. I missed it, but I'm told he mentioned how the SECB once said he has a "serial-killer vibe" and then made an actual serial killer joke. Maybe not so humorless after all?
• Ijeoma Oluo read from an infuriating Twitter exchange and we all remembered how depressed we are about the way women are treated on the internet.
By the way, look out for a new women-run media site launching next week where Oluo will be an editor at large. It's called The Establishment.
• Kshama Sawant stole the show, which was not a very hard thing to do in a room packed with her fans. Hamil said he invited her knowing "her followers will buy the fuck out of those tickets." Still, for a politician often thought of as solely-focused on class struggle (or, ugh, "militant" or "unbecoming"), Sawant was laid back and funny.
When Hamil asked her why someone who's not a socialist should vote for her, she replied, "It doesn't fucking matter whether you're a socialist or not. We're just trying to make sure this city is affordable for everyone." (Sawant is running in District 3, covering Capitol Hill and the Central District. Get your ballot in the mail by November 3.)
Then came Sex and the City. There is nothing ironic about how much Sawant loves this show. (Politicians! They're just like us!) "It's mostly about sex and friendship among women," Sawant said, "Sex is not capitalistic. Sex is very socialist." (Pro tip: Put that on a District 3 poster, Kshama. Best slogan you've come up with all season.)
• We learned that Sawant's dogs are also socialists. One of them is named—this is not a joke—"El Che."
"He really believes in the emancipation of the working class," Sawant said. "He expresses that every single day."
Sawant's other dog, Rosa, is also a socialist, it turns out, but can be overly trusting: "She doesn't understand that sometimes you can't trust people like Tim Burgess."
No surprise, but there was no love for Burgess in the room. There were, however, "rejected Tim Burgess campaign slogans."
• Hamil ended the segment with Sawant on a serious note, asking her what should give progressives hope about issues like police brutality and the youth jail.
"I draw hope from the fact that we've come this far," Sawant said, getting into her usual talking points about offering a counterweight to current council members she believes answer to developers and corporations.
"I mean, Jesus Christ, a socialist was elected in the belly of the capitalist beast," she said, adding later, "We don't have to imagine success. We have had success. What we need to do is keep building on it."
It wasn't a space for debating policy ideas or straying from a pro-Sawant narrative. Joel Connelly would have hated it. But it was a room full of civically minded people who got the joke when Hamil said Triad Capital Partners offered him $6,000 to call off the show and a jet ski if he'd endorse Tim Burgess, Pamela Banks, and Bruce Harrell on his "little YouTube channel." Which, if you spend a lot of your life following local politics, is a nice room to be in.