Al Franken Makes Funny in Washington

03/05/2002 at 01:00 AM EST

Satirist and "Saturday Night Live" alum Al Franken used a combination of facts and jokes for his speech about predatory lending at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last week, reports PEOPLE. Acting as a spokesperson for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a group that helps communities access credit and capital, Franken, 50, highlighted the problem of exploitative lending to the poor, minorities, women and the elderly. He lightened up the heavy topic with comedy. "I know that it's probably not a good idea for a comedian, especially a satirist, to support a public policy group or a politician. This is something I learned only too well years ago when I did a fundraiser for Pol Pot. A few years later I saw 'The Killing Fields,' and I've got to tell you, I just felt like a schmuck." Franken, a Harvard grad and open Democrat (he wrote the 1996 bestseller "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Idiot"), used his trademark dry delivery to take digs on the Republicans, Enron and the war on terrorism. He had the packed crowd laughing with his impressions of Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), Pat Robertson, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and Henry Kissinger, who is scheduled to speak at the press club next week. Meanwhile, Franken told PEOPLE that his next book, "Oh, the Things I Know! A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness," goes on sale April 29 and is a parody on the life-blessings genre that seems to proliferate around graduation time. "I'm doing other projects this year," said Franken. "I'm doing a lot of speaking engagements, being overpaid for it."

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