April 18, 2009
By Jerry Kopel
"Tradition!" cries Tevye the dairyman in the village of Anatevka in 1905
as he and Goldie and their five daughters cope with life in "Fiddler On
"Tradition!" was also the Hummers (and Stingers) on display at the end
of the state House sessions for more than 35 of the past 40 years. When
Democrats were the minority House party, the Hummers performed with
"digs" at the majority legislators. When Republicans are the minority
party, the performance is labeled as the "Stingers".
"Tradition!" partially ended in 2003. The Democrats were just too
exhausted and angry to be amusing. The show was going to be based again
on "Fiddler On the Roof".
Anger happened because of the attempt near the end of the session by the
majority party to revise congressional districts already revised in
In 2007, according to a Rocky Mountain News article, "the
minority GOP nixed coming up with a show after stinging criticism of
last year's (2006) effort, when even Republicans thought their effort
bombed in part because it was so mean-spirited". That is another word
This year, according to a brief mention in the RMN, House Speaker
Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, announced the restoration of the show, to be
run by the Republicans.
Personally, I always thought the Hummers were there all session ... that
my seat on the floor was a ticket to a great show. I never knew from day
to day what I would encounter ... comedy, drama, an intelligent
discussion, anger, sweetness.
Based on past grievances, the past road to an amusing but biting Hummers
or Stinger show is known to us.
Performed during one the last days of the session, lasting 60 to 75
minutes, it should by presented after lunch when the House is not
technically in session.
Avoid complicated scripts, elaborate costumes, numerous props, and
endless rehearsals. The longer the show, the less funny it became.
Hummers got on track by centering the show around easy themes such as
Jeopardy, Mr. Rogers, the Wizard of Oz, and handing out prizes and
one-liners interspersed with some singing based on well-known musical
A short skit can work. In 2002, a legislator was all wrapped up in a
crime-scene tape. He sponsored a bill on property forfeiture in criminal
cases and was getting a little payback. In the skit, a state trooper
jokingly tied Shawn Mitchell to his chair, tape around his arms. He was
informed his sale would be without a public hearing because he was
considered a public nuisance.
Each year, specific awards do not really have to change. The recipients
change. Here are some that are always amusing.
...Come down to the front and get your award. Everyone says you are
playing with half-a-deck. So to make up for it, here is the other half.
(Hand over giant playing cards.)
...We'd like to make you King for a Day with a pass into Democratic
...For being herself, the Uptight Award.
...The "Cow Bell Award" for showing the true natural skills in
methodically moving from one desk to the next munching any and all food
...This legislator left the House and ran for the Senate because she was
told older men in the Senate had nicer buns.
..."Fun at the Noon Hour Award" consisting of four martinis presented to
... This legislator is one of the common people. You can't find anyone
more common. He never has to worry about his station in life. Everyone
tells him where to get off. He has a surefire way of handling
temptation. He yields to it.
...This legislator has not been himself lately and everyone noticed the
improvement. He dines with the brass. No one would trust him with the
...For the most considered reliance on organic foods, the Natural Gas
...This legislator wanted to and might have, but didn't and won't.
...This legislator wins the "Whiner" award.
...When this legislator was promoted to the third grade, he was so
thrilled he could hardly shave.
...For the best living demonstration of the majority party, however
elusive, to fill old voided space, the Gaseous Defensive award.
...She doesn't have an enemy in the world. She's outlived them all.
...This legislator told voters I never stole anything in my life. All I
want is a chance.
The Republicans might award the following two (all in fun) to the
majority party members:
...In the old days they used to laugh at "jokes" down here. Now they
"mean" the chairman.
...This legislator receives the "Bare Bone Award" for his paring the
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado
House and has collected scripts from many Hummers