Inauguration parties: A tough act with a soft heart

Friday night and the festivities are under way. First stop, the Knights of Columbus in Bloomington, for the Rockin’auguration Celebration, a not so cleverly disguised re-election fundraiser hosted by Sen. John Doll.

Several of Doll’s friends from the Minnesota Senate showed up, a number of them having recently tossed their hats into the 2010 governor’s race. I spotted Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, Sen. John Marty, and former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza among the sparse but friendly crowd. Explorer Will Steger also made an appearance. (Not that that has anything to do with the governor’s race, I just thought it was interesting that he was there.)

Doll, it turns out is an ex-rock and roller, who knows his way around a guitar. Before rocking out with the Rhinestone Diplomats, he warmed up with a gorgeous vocal rendition of “Blackbird.”

But the real surprise of the evening was long-time Twin Cities comedian Jeff Gerbino.

Channeling a 1940s gumshoe in a chocolate brown suit and matching felt fedora, Gerbino parsed out both G and PG-13 jokes, apologizing to the folks who brought their kids for the latter. His impersonations of George Herbert Walker Bush and John McCain were hilarious and spot on. Gerbino’s shtick is all about feigning indignation as a tough-talking wise guy. But ask him, as we did, how he really feels about the magnitude of the events of this week, and the tough guy melts away into one big softy.

Check it out.

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