Not even the pope was immune Thursday night as Stephen Colbert cracked one-liners and took digs at luminaries from politics, finance and the media at a Roman Catholic charity dinner in New York City that’s perennially packed with big names.
Colbert, the satirical star of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, delivered his remarks at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan, where he noted many great speakers – and probably a few bar mitzvah DJs – had appeared before him.
Over the course of 10 minutes, Colbert said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s outfit of robes and cap made him look like a “flamboyant Zorro,” joked that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was dating a CNBC anchor, called Mayor Michael Bloomberg a “tiny man” and said the modest Pope Francis would’ve likely held the black-tie fundraiser at an iHop.
“I am proud to be America’s most famous Catholic,” Colbert declared, turning to Dolan, who was sitting next to him on a dais that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CBS anchor Scott Pelley and others. “And I’m sure the cardinal is thinking, ‘Stephen, pride is a sin.’ Well, cardinal, so is envy, so we’re even.”
Organizers said the 68th annual dinner raised $3 million to help needy children. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan was given an award.
Last year, during the 2012 presidential campaign, the annual affair was attended by candidate Mitt Romney and his rival, President Barack Obama.
But this year’s event was noticeably absent of politicians currently seeking higher office. The two men running to replace Bloomberg in City Hall, Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, did not attend.
Alfred E. Smith IV, the master of ceremonies and a great-grandson of former Gov. Al Smith, after whom the foundation and evening are named, noted the lack of candidates in his pre-dinner remarks, poking fun at a headline-grabbing New York primary campaign for mayor and comptroller that featured two scandal-scarred New York pols: Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
“Anthony Weiner’s not here,” Smith said to groans from the audience. “That’s good.”
About 1,000 people paid $1,500 apiece to attend the dinner, which Colbert referred to as “Catholic Thanksgiving” because it falls on the third Thursday of every October.
“It’s like we all showed up at the same Halloween party dressed as the Monopoly guy,” he said. “And you know that’s kind of fitting because the Wall Street guys apparently have a get-out-of-jail free card.”
In 2006, Colbert delivered the headline address at the White House Correspondents Dinner, but his scathing satire earned him a chilly response from then-President George W. Bush.