Sean O'Brien knows Washington inside and out. And he knows how funny it is.
After nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, O'Brien, chief of staff to Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), plumbs politics for laughs in his annual one-man improv show, which is coming to the Capital Fringe Festival all this week.
The results of his efforts are hilarious.
"I went to college with ["Saturday Night Live" star] Seth Myers," O'Brien told ITK, and we reconnected in Amsterdam a few years later, where I started doing a little improv at his suggestion. I found out I really liked it."
After he moved back to his hometown of Chicago, Ill., O'Brien trained with the world-famous Second City Comedy Troupe, and after he got a job in 2002 as an intern in then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel's (D-Ill.) office, he took the laughs with him to D.C.
O'Brien worked for Emanuel and for Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) before joining Quigley's staff in 2009, and this will be his third straight year of performing in the Fringe Festival. His show is called “McSwiggin’s Pub,” and according to O'Brien it's set in "A D.C. dive bar, where several patrons discuss the issues of the day and their own dysfunctional lives."
There are five characters, all of which seem tailor-made for laughs from congressional staffers: "Joe the Irish bartender, Howard the tea partier, Roy the young junior staffer, Bob the lobbyist, and Rufus the Iraq vet/House subway driver," he explains.
The show will run at the Goethe Institute's theater in Chinatown, this Friday through next Wednesday. Check the Fringe Festival's website for tickets and times.
As for who O'Brien thinks is the funniest person on Capitol Hill? "[Rep.] Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)," he quips. "She is my greatest inspiration."