Asides: Politicians joke, candidates debate and Pittsburgh pitches itself

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POLITICS is usually no laughing matter, but politicians were yucking it up Wednesday night at the Pittsburgh Improv Club at The Waterfront in Homestead. Helped by stand-up routines from a number of prominent political figures, the event raised an estimated $40,000 for programs run by Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf joined in, making only their second joint appearance of the campaign. Mr. Corbett lamented the difficulty of trying to be a comedian: “Politicians are not funny (pause) ... intentionally.” Mr. Wolf said he is recognized by people everywhere he goes in Pittsburgh. “Unfortunately,” he said, “they think I’m Edgar Snyder.”

THE GOVERNOR and his opponent are destined to meet again in more serious settings. Three candidate debates have been scheduled: the first on Sept. 22 at the annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner in Hershey, the second on Oct. 1 at KYW-TV in Philadelphia and the third on Oct. 8 at the WTAE-TV studio in Wilkinsburg. We shall see then who has the last laugh.

PITTSBURGH was for too long its own punch line, but those days are over. Earlier this year, the Travel Channel named the city as one of the top 10 “All-American Vacations of 2014.” To build on that, VisitPittsburgh, the region’s tourism marketing and promotion agency, last week unveiled a national campaign featuring a television ad and print ads and promotions. While VisitPittsburgh promotes the city as a destination for meetings and conventions, the new campaign is part of a huge push to attract leisure travelers as well. The new campaign doesn’t actually say this, but it could: Come to Pittsburgh, where the people are so friendly and smiling that even elected officials do stand-up comedy.

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