Amid ongoing relief efforts following devastating winter storms in his state of Texas, senator Ted Cruz spent his Friday night appearing to try his hand at stand-up comedy before a CPAC crowd.

Many of the stand-out moments of Cruz’s speech were his attempts at jokes, which seemed to please those gathered at the Republican conference – but went down with many on social media about as well as his recent trip to Cancun.

He began by addressing the recent controversy – which saw him attempt to use his daughters as an excuse after being pictured boarding a flight to Mexico as millions of Texans toiled without power in record-breaking cold weather thought to have claimed dozens of lives.

“I gotta say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun. But it’s nice,” he told the Florida crowd.

He continued his bizarre attempt at an observational skit by saying: “Bernie is wearing mittens. And AOC is telling us she was murdered.”

Needless to say, his comments about Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’ viral sartorial choices at Joe Biden’s inauguration invited multiple remarks on social media about his temporary lack of need for winter-wear.

His apparent impression of New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referenced her recent allegations following the Capitol insurrection that Republicans “almost had me murdered” – and that Cruz “had a role in” his president’s supporters’ riot on 6 January.

This appears to have been a reference to his support for Trump and there is no suggestion Cruz was directly involved in the insurrection, which law enforcement officials have alleged was “coordinated”.

However, Cruz may have further reason to feel antagonised by the Democratic representative, who won praise after her fundraising efforts in his own storm-stricken state surpassed $5m, painting a stark contrast with the criticism his Mexico trip invited.

And with coronavirus having claimed 41,000 lives and infected more than 2.2 million people in Texas, Cruz turned his razor wit to the current rules on face masks, saying “how strange the rules are right now” and claiming liberals want people to wear masks for the next 300 years.

With such rallying comments against face masks having drawn shouts of “freedom” from the CPAC crowd earlier in the day, Cruz himself decided to finish off with a cringeworthy Braveheart impersonation.

He prefaced the Mel Gibson scene by saying, “in the immortal words of William Wallace”, leaving many wondering whether he thought it was a verbatim quote from the martyred 13th century Scottish resistance leader.

It came shortly after Cruz appeared to downplay the threat perceived to remain following the Capitol insurrection, claiming Democrats had sought to “turn the Capitol into a military outpost in Baghdad” because they are “convinced that political theatre helps them”.

He also drew cheers from the crowd by raising the idea of a violent response to last year’s anti-racism protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, saying: “In Houston where I live, I have to tell you, there weren’t any rioters because let’s be very clear, if there had been, they would discover what the state of Texas thinks about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

While his speech – along with a golden Trump statue on wheels – appears to have gone down well with the CPAC crowd, Cruz faced some sharp criticism for his comedic posturing on social media.

People felt his repertoire needed some fine-tuning in light of his Cancun debacle.

Others were just generally unimpressed.

With Trump set to take the stage on Sunday night amid expectations he could seek to declare himself the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” in 2024, it remains to be seen whether Cruz’s stand-up routine will be upstaged.

More: Did Ted Cruz really board a flight to Cancun during the Texas power outages?

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