From Amy Schumer to 'SNL' to 'The Simpsons,' Tampa is America's punch line
Last week, comedian Kyle Kinane called St. Petersburg’s America’s “new hipster metropolis” in an interview on the podcast Sklarbro Country. “I’m almost upset I gave away this real estate tip,” he added.
Not us, Kyle. Tampa Bay has been a punch line for so long, it’s nice to hear a comic say something nice about this region for a change. When Amy Schumer needled Tampa in her recent book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (“I know for a fact that no one who lives there has ever read a book”) it was only the latest high-profile example.
Jimmy Kimmel has called Tampa “the worst place I ever lived.” Chris Hardwick dubbed Ybor City a “weird Scarface scene about to happen.” Conan O’Brien once called Tampa “a fine place to live, if you’re a mosquito.”
With Schumer returning to Tampa on Sunday, here are five other comedy institutions that have turned our city into joke fodder.
THE DAILY SHOW
Late night shows react to the news of the day, and when the news of the day happens in Tampa, Tampa gets a shout-out. No surprise there. But The Daily Show had a field day with the city before and during the 2012 Republican National Convention. Correspondent and Tampa native Aasif Mandvi filmed a “Welcome to Tampa” segment that offered an insider’s view of establishments like Busch Gardens, Hooters, strip clubs and the “holy waters” of Gandy Beach, where people can “ride jet skis while s---faced.”
During the event itself, Daily Show correspondents left no line unpunched, from John Oliver (who likened the climate to “a subway platform in Haiti”) to Jason Jones (reporting from “Tampa’s famous strip club district — or, as they call it here, ‘Tampa’”).
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Over the last few years, the show has set bits in Tampa because it’s a conceivably realistic setting for a setup: A sinkhole opening in downtown Tampa, a teacher-student sex scandal. One recurring sketch from the late ’90s, “Goth Talk,” was a cable-access show set in Tampa.
A 2012 skit about the David Petraeus-Jill Kelley sex scandal took a direct shot at the city’s image by presenting host Jeremy Renner as the city’s self-proclaimed mayor, “Derrick ‘Fat Deuce’ Derrick,” who assures Wolf Blitzer that “Tampa all fine. Tampa got everything: Cigars, Jill Kelley, tattoos, loose murders and a gutted-out Applebees you can fight in.”
In one episode, Bart touts the legitimacy of a book on UFOs by saying the author is “head of the spaceology department at the Correspondence College of Tampa.” That’s probably preferable to being “the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the sciences — not so good,” as Professor Frink once described astrology.
The Internet’s premiere satirical magazine has set stories in every city on the map, although most are targeting some other trend or newsmaker. Before the 2012 Republican National Convention, they dished up pieces with headlines like “Tampa Bay Prostitutes Gearing Up for Flood of Closeted Republicans.” Others: “Busch Gardens Unveils New 9,600-Mile-Long Endurance Coaster”; “Bucs Stadium Now Allowing Fans to Watch Games From Special Swamp Deck”: and “Tampa Bay Devil Rays Change Name, Uniform, Sport.”
Tina Fey’s infatuation with the Sunshine State is long-established. Dozens of jokes poked fun at this corner of the state, especially Central Florida, which is “dominated by Jewish retirees, serial killers and secretly gay Disney princes.” The character of Jenna Maroney may or may not have grown up in Florida, but she does own a condo in Clearwater, and majored in “prom queens and murdered runaways” at the “Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks.” (Though perhaps not for long — as she once asked, “You think I’m stupid just because my college got tipped over by those Miami Heat fans?”
Got a favorite Tampa punch line we missed? Share it in the comments!
-- Jay Cridlin