Advice for Al Franken: Shut up and listen (but it’s OK if you laugh, too)

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE has been suppressing his funny bone since launching his bid for the upper chamber, but some of his new Democratic colleagues say the Minnesota Democrat will need his sense of humor to survive in the nation’s capital.

Among an abundance of suggestions for the former “Saturday Night Live” writer/actor is this common piece of advice for the Senate: Be serious, but not too serious.
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During a short speech at Tuesday’s Democratic caucus lunch, Franken said he was in Washington to work and pledged a studious attitude. Several Democrats say such an approach helped his campaign last year and throughout the ensuing eight-month legal battle with former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman. After a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling last week, Franken was sworn in on Tuesday.

But several other Democrats claim that too much stodginess can also be unhealthy in an institution already known for a grinding, plodding pace.

“I do think a sense of humor helps around here,” said Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Mo.). “He’s very sensitive to the fact that he should and will be taken seriously, and so I think his sense of humor will play a supporting role, not a leading role. But it’s a very important part of this place. Sometimes we take ourselves entirely too seriously.”

Similarly, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, noted the pressure and egos that exist in the Senate.

“You’ve got to have the ability to laugh at yourself,” Lieberman said. “He’ll be a serious senator, but he shouldn’t lose his sense of humor. It’ll help.”

Other advice for Franken from his new colleagues included some key suggestions from fellow freshmen such as Mark UdallMark Emery UdallPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE of Colorado, who urged Franken to relax, use his staff and enjoy the experience.

“It’s the best job in the world and it’s an exciting time to be here, so hopefully he’ll take the time to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and success,” Udall said. “Just enjoy a little bit of honeymoon. He’s been chosen by the people of Minnesota, so he should feel inspired. And he doesn’t have to learn it all in one day.”
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But because the pace will be quick, many Democrats agree with Franken’s early penchant for focusing and listening, noting such a keep-your-head-down strategy helped Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton quickly gain credibility while serving in the Senate.

“She said she wanted to be a workhorse, not a show-horse,” Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 MORE of Florida said of Clinton.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment MORE of Montana offered Franken this tidbit: “You have two ears and one mouth. Act accordingly.”

Both Lieberman and Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE of Alaska suggested that Franken find a handful of core issues on which to focus — and to be patient and invest in relationships.

“Do your homework on issues that you care about,” Begich said. “Drill down deep and know those three or four or five issues … And know that it’s all about relationships here, and finding out where everyone else is.”

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperInstead of raising the gas tax, stop wasting money on frivolous projects To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE of Delaware and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week Bipartisan group of senators urges FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes MORE of Oregon said Franken would also be smart never to forget his roots.

“Continue to go home a lot,” suggested Carper.

“Use your whole set of life experiences,” Merkley said. “This institution is stronger with the diversity of backgrounds everybody brings.”