The Washington Post Magazine: Comedy meets History at President Lincoln’s Cottage in D.C.

Two Faces Comedy Exhibit

A standup performance series salutes the playful spirit of the 16th president, known for his ‘really bad dad jokes’

A couple of hours before comedy night at President Lincoln’s Cottage, I learned from Callie Hawkins, the cottage’s programming director, that Lincoln’s sense of humor was “pretty self-effacing, and his jokes were really bad. Like, really bad dad jokes. But people laughed.” Soon, three comedians would perform in the cottage’s drawing room, in front of a fireplace and facing about 60 people primed for a playful evening. The event was part of a series called Two Faces Comedy, an allusion to a comment the 16th president reportedly made after a critic charged him with hypocrisy. “If I had two faces,” he said, “would I be wearing this one?”

The Lincoln Cottage — which is not really a cottage, but a 34-room country home that the Lincoln family used as a summer and fall retreat in 1862, 1863 and 1864 — stands on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Northwest Washington. The idea for the series came after Chris White, a presidential history lover and marketing director of the DC Improv comedy club, met with the cottage’s staff for a podcast. The first comedy evening was held in 2016.

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