Bill de Blasio took part in a New York City political rite of passage on Monday, appearing on a late night talk show to tout his record and poke fun at a few gaffes that have provided fodder for comics during his first month as mayor.
De Blasio guested on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, where host Jon Stewart tweaked the mayor for his handling of a recent snow storm and his use of a knife and fork to eat pizza.
A photo of the liberal mayor using utensils instead of the traditional New York method of grabbing a slice with his hands went viral last month and sent Stewart into a spasm of mock outrage, saying “you’re a man of the people, eat like one!” During the taping of Monday’s show, Stewart presented de Blasio with a pizza, but the mayor responded to the good-natured test with a prop of his own, whipping out a knife and fork from his jacket to laughter from the studio audience.
“As mayor of Napoli — I mean, New York City — we are always ready for our pizza,” de Blasio said in the show that was set to air on Monday night. The mayor had explained his pizza consumption style as a nod to his “ancestral homeland” of Italy.
De Blasio then used his hands to bite into a slice as Stewart slurped on a giant soda that the mayor’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, had tried to ban.
As snow fell outside the Manhattan studio, Stewart noted that it was already the third storm since de Blasio took office on January 1, saying it “never snowed once” during the billionaire Bloomberg’s 12 years in office.
“I think he paid the right guy,” de Blasio responded. “I mean, he has the money.”
De Blasio, a Democrat, had acknowledged that the city had not done a good job plowing the Upper East Side during a recent storm and played along with a bit that he had ordered more snow dumped in the wealthy neighbourhood. He also added that “we have an experimental effort to get locusts up in there.”
Unlike the normally staid Bloomberg, de Blasio frequently jokes around at his press conferences. His jokes, which often fall under the heading of “Dad humour,” have a mixed success rate with the press corps, sometimes eliciting chuckles, other times groans.
He was eager to show off his wit to Stewart, who suggested that the mayor’s strongly liberal views had him putting up “posters of Lenin, Stalin” at his City Hall office.
“The Che Guevara posters are very popular, they really are,” de Blasio retorted.
This appearance was de Blasio’s talk show debut. Bloomberg did the late night talk show circuit with some frequency, chatting with hosts ranging from Stewart to David Letterman to Jimmy Fallon and making an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Stewart, who once was a college roommate of failed mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, has frequently joked about his love for de Blasio and his Afro-sporting teenage son.
De Blasio was far more serious earlier in the day when he said he will soon unveil new steps in his campaign to combat income inequality.
De Blasio told WNYC radio that he plans to improve the city’s living wage policy and will reveal other proposals during his first State of the City address next Monday.