How many politicians does it take to draw a laugh?
At least one in Vermont, where state Rep. Jason Lorber does standup gigs, produces comedy shows and runs improv workshops when he's not making laws.
"When I first came here, people said `You're the first comedian to come to the Statehouse.' I say `I'm the first PROFESSIONAL comedian to come to the Statehouse,'" he said.
He says legislating and performing are both passions for him.
"Politics is about changing society and trying to make the world a better place. And performing makes me feel so alive. I love the creative aspect of it," he said.
Lorber grew up in California, making him a "flatlander," or non-native, to Vermonters. That gives him an outsider's view on things New Englanders take for granted, like coping with winters:
"I have a regimen for keeping warm: I get up, I put on a tank top, T-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jacket and scarf. Then if it dips below 50, I put on more clothes."
Or the state's quirky fondness for the good old days:
"I'm used to directions based on what street you're supposed to turn on. In Vermont, directions are based on landmarks that burned down 15 years ago."
He also isn't shy about basing humor on his personal life — he's gay, in a civil union, and has a 1-year-old son.
"The thing about my partner is, he's gay. Which I'm fine with. Growing up, I never pictured myself being with a gay guy. Now, I've come to realize that I could never be happy being with a straight guy."
While standup comedy isn't exactly big business in Vermont — the state has no comedy clubs — some of Lorber's fellow lawmakers have an appreciation for what he's doing.
"Anybody who can stand up in front of a group of people and try to elicit laughter, maybe being a legislator is the easy part of his life," said state Rep. Floyd Nease.