Back when Bill de Blasio trailed not only Christine Quinn but also Anthony Weiner in the mayoral race, all he had was his sense of humor. “If Arnold Schwarzenegger were here, he would say this: ‘Northern Ca-lee-forn-ya, your domination of the tech industry is being terminated,’ ” De Blasio quipped at a technology forum last April. “That was a bad imitation, Bill,” said Bill Thompson.
“An Arnold Schwarzenegger reference always works,” insisted De Blasio, who at the time was polling at 11 percent. “People like accents!” (He allegedly has a Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons, so far deployed only behind closed doors.) But the shaming worked. De Blasio temporarily put aside his inherent corniness.
Now, however, it’s open season. “The dad humor has definitely surged since he won the election,” said one City Hall reporter of the new mayor’s preferred brand of cheesy jokes, frequently attributed, like bad jeans, to middle-aged men with kids.
Relying often on physical humor—he is six feet five inches tall—De Blasio seems like he just can’t help himself from offering a running commentary about his surroundings. “You should see how excited he gets every time he moves the stool up and down,” said the reporter of the mayor’s current favorite prop, a stepladder used when shorter speakers take a turn at his podium. It’s one of the many tools in his comedy arsenal.
Asked how many layers he was wearing to weather the cold, De Blasio unzipped his mayoral windbreaker:
“Do you want me to go farther? I have an undershirt also.”
On dealing with the snow:
“Shoveling is a fine form of exercise, let me just tell you. I didn’t have to go to the gym today.”
On suspending alternate-side parking but not meters:
“Sometime in the centuries from now, a new civilization will look back and will still find our parking meters are in effect.”
Announcing appointees bound for Albany and Washington, D.C.:
[Said in a movie-trailer voice] “It takes a brave man to take on Albany, New York … There may be one mission just slightly more dangerous than the one you’re going on. That resides in Washington, D.C. Even the name strikes fear in the hearts of men and women everywhere.”
Introducing an appointee with an eye patch:
“I am resisting making pirate jokes. But if I were to make a pirate joke … I’m thinking of something with ‘plunder,’ but I’ll be back with that.”
Later, introducing an appointee he towered over:
“All right, now, I did not make pirate jokes, so I will try not to make height jokes either, though I’m tempted.”
On his wife, Chirlane McCray:
“I noticed the attendance in the first row of a lovely young lady, who appears to be my wife, so I’d like to welcome the First Lady.”
Asked the “flavor” of his first day as mayor: