Funnyman Minority Leader Jon Bramnick Headlines a Comedy Gig

But trying to retake the majority after 16 years in the wilderness is no laughing matter

Jon Bramnick during a 2016 RNC comedy performance.

Jon Bramnick during a 2016 RNC comedy performance. Observer

Just about all New Jersey legislators have a day job and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) is no exception—he’s a lawyer with a named practice handling personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Criminal Defense & Immigration Law in six locations around the state. But when comedy club hecklers yell at a struggling stand-up comic “don’t quit your day job,” Bramnick is one who can actually reply that he’s not just a successful trial lawyer but a pretty accomplished stand-up comic.

His gentle pokes will be recognizable to those who’ve seen him in action at the state house (eg, he once praised the humor of Democratic State Senator Dick Codey by saying, “He’s got some pretty good jokes. I’ve laughed at a couple of his policies, too.”) And he once joked to a PolitickerNJ reporter that the Chamber trip was so successful in getting lawmakers to talk to each other that perhaps New Jersey’s problems would be solved if they simply locked the train’s doors until the budget was balanced.

On March 9, Bramnick will join West Point cadet-turned-stand up comic Ross Bennett at a performance at the Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick. For those who have never seen Bramnick perform, it’s a worthy use of time – his roast of Gov. Byrne a few years ago was the night’s highlight.

And a lighthearted evening will surely be welcomed by the Minority Leader because Bramnick is facing a tough year ahead, defending his current caucus and trying to pick up a few seats.

Assembly Republicans have spent the last sixteen years aiming at 41, the magic number for a majority, but with just 28 seats, a clean sweep of the competitive legislative races puts the GOP at just 36 – still five short of a majority.

Here’s what he’s looking at:

• District 1: Upset the two Democratic Assemblymen, Bob Andrejczak and Bruce Land.

• District 2: Hold Chris Brown’s seat and pick up the one Vince Mazzeo now occupies. Both incumbents are running for the Senate.

• District 11: Unseat the two Democratic incumbents who won a surprise victory in 2015.

• District 16: Hold Jack Ciattarelli’s open seat and oust Andrew Zwicker, who narrowly won two years ago.

• District 38: Unseat a pair of Democratic incumbents, Tim Eustace and Joe Lagana.