“Sardonic Santa” Sacked

On balance, the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission is a pretty staid lot doing some serious work. Indeed, it’s not all that long ago that “planning,” per se, seemed sort of oxymoronic around here. So the commission’s work can involve undoing as well as preparing for tomorrow. Theirs is an important — and typically thankless — job as Hillsborough County — in all its disparate entities –continues its rapid, skewed growth amid Byzantine politics.

Anyway, this Christmas the area’s most acronym-challenged organization almost stepped out of character. In addition to an annual pre-holiday, lunch-hour gathering featuring a church choir, cheery toasts and presents for children, the commission — or at least its entertainment committee — decided to push the holiday-party envelope.

They secured the services of a Bay Area character known to those in the private- and -corporate-holiday-party set as “Sardonic Santa.” Apparently Sardonic Santa’s roast-like schtick is tailored to the specific, hosting organization — but inevitably waxes politically incorrect.

So when some folks at the commission got wind that the church choir was only a warm-up to Sardonic Santa, they complained. Not appropriate. Not everyone would think it was funny. And they, in effect, substituted “Escape Claus” for Sardonic Santa.

Can’t blame them, really. If there’s a chance that someone might be displeased, let it be over the choice of hymns or the flavoring of the punch. Not whether something was funny or insulting.

But here’s the kicker. I have it on unimpeachable authority, that there really was no reason to whack Sardonic Santa. In fact, I know Sardonic Santa. Sardonic Santa is a friend of mine. And he has assured me that among those laughing the loudest would have been Bob Hunter, executive director; Ray Chiaramonte, assistant executive director; Luci Ayer, transportation director; Tony Garcia, planner; Robin McCarthy, receptionist; Mike Tonelli, planner; and Terry Eagan, librarian.

They’ll just have to take Sardonic Santa’s word for it.

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