Comedian sent by Jimmy Kimmel disrupts Roy Moore’s rally

No fan of Moore, the late-night ABC host had dispatched a sort of weaponized comedian to the church – a performer who had been infiltrating political rallies for years, playing an aging die-hard Republican with the manic energy of a cheerleader.

What Roy Moore hoped to do inside Magnolia Springs Baptist Church, as the Associated Press saw it, was put the drama behind him.

He wanted to get away from the accusations that have entangled his Senate campaign – that he preyed on teen girls as a younger man – and get back to the Christian-infused politics that had made him a popular judge-turned-candidate in Alabama. And he wanted to do it with a half-hour speech, written especially for an intimate crowd of worshippers at a small-town church outside Mobile on a Wednesday night.

Alas, Jimmy Kimmel had other plans.

No fan of Moore, the late-night ABC host had dispatched a sort of weaponized comedian to the church – a performer who had been infiltrating political rallies for years, playing an aging die-hard Republican with the manic energy of a cheerleader.

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The comedian’s name is Tony Barbieri, but he told people at the church he was “Jake Byrd” – who worked at the Thrifty Lizard up the highway and had come to church that night because he was, as his baseball cap proclaimed, Moore’s No. 1 fan.

A stickered backpack and “GIMME MOORE!” T-shirt completed Byrd’s ensemble, which clashed noticeably with the button-down parishioners as he claimed a seat in the front pew.

He sat quietly through the beginning of the service, as the pastor prayed and the choir sang “A Few Good Men” by way of introducing the candidate.

Then Moore walked up to the lectern with a stack of notes under one arm, and Byrd screamed “Roy!” and reached out to grab his sleeve.

As with everything he would do that night, he made sure to do it in front of the TV news cameras.

Moore began his speech with a quote from Thomas Paine: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

He blamed his political troubles on his opponents – “They’re the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgenders. They want to change our culture.”

Byrd squealed “Yeeeees!” but remained in his seat, hands folded on his shorts.

Midway through the speech, a heckler called out from the back of the church and Byrd stopped trying to restrain himself.

“The whole town says you did it,” the heckler said….

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