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Oct
01

Wall Street Journal Article On NYFR: “The News Isn’t Funny, but They Are”

By ALEXANDRIA SYMONDS

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Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal – Lauren Lyster

Before taking the stage at Comic Strip Live on Thursday evening, Fox 5 New York anchor Greg Kelly did his journalistic due diligence with some last-minute fact-checking.

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Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal – Manny Alvarez

“Is that real brick? It’s fake brick, right?” he was overheard asking of the backdrop in front of which he’d be performing a five-minute stand-up comedy set later that night. “I’m glad it’s fake; I’m going to talk about it,” he said, upon receiving confirmation.

Mr. Kelly, along with five other brave media professionals, was at the comedy club to compete in the seventh annual New York’s Funniest Reporter Show. The event benefited the Humane Society of New York, a cause represented by Animal Fair editor Wendy Diamond’s adopted dog, Baby, a black-and-white Coton de Tuléar who watched the show more politely than many of her fellow audience members.

Competing alongside Mr. Kelly were Clayton Morris and Dr. Manny Alvarez, both of Fox News; In Touch Weekly’s Marianne Garvey; ESPN’s Michele Steele; and Lauren Lyster of RT America. (Fox is owned by News Corporation, which also owns The Wall Street Journal.)

Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal – Clayton Morris

Also performing, though not in competition, were pro wrestler Mick Foley and 2011 Funniest Reporter championMarlaina Schiavo, who mined her seven years’ experience working as a producer on “Nancy Grace.” Ms. Schiavo explained that Ms. Grace wasn’t in the office much after moving to Atlanta full time: “The devil,” she said, “literally went down to Georgia.”

Mr. Foley wore a pair of black sneakers, as well as the very same cut-off red flannel shirt he was sporting in the photo in the event’s program—which, he noted, had been taken 12 years earlier.

The reporters mostly stuck to topics like sex and dating (“What I met at the bar was George Clooney; who I lived with was Shrek,” recalled Ms. Garvey of a failed romance), as well as the novelty of their appearing in the competition in the first place. “Who’s ready for some unprofessional comedy that’s completely clean and vetted by ESPN PR?” Ms. Steele deadpanned to open her set.

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Daniella Zalcman for TheWall Street JournalMarianne Garvey

The emcee, comedian Ray Ellin, preferred to riff on the audience members—somewhat to the chagrin of the pretty young woman seated next to us, who leaned over midway though the show and murmured, “This is the weirdest first date I’ve ever been on.” (Apparently, Mr. Ellin had promised her football and beer.)

“The stakes here are high and low at the same time,” Mr. Kelly mused. “They’re high in that you could say something potentially career-ending. They’re low—I think we’re vying for a coffee mug or a jigsaw puzzle, something along those lines.”

Actually, the prize was a trophy; and once the scores had been tallied, Mr. Morris was the winner. “It just so happens that I’ve prepared a song,” Mr. Morris joked.

Mr. Kelly, the second runner-up, wasn’t around to receive his applause. New York’s third-funniest reporter had left the club to film the 10 o’clock news