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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center for Public Policy will host “Votes and Jokes: Laughter and America’s Political Personality” Oct. 28 on the Knoxville campus.

Humorist Art Buchwald

The conference will feature political leaders and some of the nation’s leading political columnists, cartoonists and writers, including Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prize winner and longtime columnist for the Washington Post, who will give the keynote address.

The event is free and open to the public. Sessions will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Tennessee Auditorium of Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center.

The event begins with a panel discussion about the use of humor, moderated by John Seigenthaler, former editor and publisher of the Tennessean newspaper and founder of the First Amendment Center. Sen. Howard Baker and Sen. Alan Simpson will serve on the panel. A former Wyoming congressman, Simpson authored “Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press.” Joining Baker and Simpson will be former National Urban League CEO and Clinton Administration advisor Vernon Jordan.

“The Baker Center is especially interested in political communications, and we all know that humor plays a significant role in the nation-s political process – sometimes intentional, sometimes not,” said Alan Lowe, director of the Baker Center. “We look forward not only to exploring how politicians use humor to get things done, but also how society sees humor in so many people and events related to our government.”

Other sessions include:
· Mark Katz and Kerry Tymchuk will present “Politicians and Humor.” Katz wrote speeches for President Bill Clinton and appears regularly on the TV show “Politically Incorrect.” He writes for the New Yorker and the New York Times. Tymchuk, a political aid to Congressman Gordon Smith of Utah, assisted Senator Bob Dole in writing “Political Wit: Laughing (Almost) All the Way to the White House,” and “Great Presidential Wit.”
· Charlie Daniel, cartoonist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, will speak about the role of political cartoons.
· Sen. Roy Herron, (D-Tennessee), will lead a session about the state’s political humor. Herron co-authored “Tennessee Political Humor: Some of These Jokes You Voted For.”

Founded in 2003, the Baker Center is dedicated to promoting programs and research that further the public’s knowledge of our system of governance, examine public policy topics, and highlight the critical importance of public service.

Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact the Baker Center at (865) 974-0931 or visit http://bakercenter.utk.edu/politicalhumor.htm.

Nissa Dahlin-Brown (865-974-0931)
Karen Collins (865-974-5186 or 216-6862)