Mayor Adams gets personal with reporter ‘jokes’ at Inner Circle charity show
Mayor Eric Adams threw personal punches at members of the media Saturday night during what’s historically supposed to be a lighthearted roast of City Hall and the Big Apple press corp.
Hizzoner took the stage at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Midtown with “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Redd to perform a mock press conference that included City Hall staffers impersonating Post City Hall reporter Nolan Hicks, the Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt and the New York Times’ Jeff Mays.
The skit – part of the annual Inner Circle charity roast – opened up with the woman staffer playing Hicks asking how the mayor is feeling after recently contracting COVID-19.
“Don’t butter me up with the, ‘how are you feeling?’ question. We’re not going to fall for that,” snapped Redd — who was portraying a caricatured and more vulgar version of Adams as he has on “SNL.”
After Adams cracked a few jokes of his own that were reminiscent of Redd’s imitation – “I did not have a case of COVID; COVID had a case of me” and “You gotta remember, I’m tough. I was a cop for 96 years” – Redd continued ripping Hicks’ character.
“That’s exactly right. And thank you for your question, Nolan. Oh, by the way, you left this baby bottle backstage,” Redd said, sticking mostly to the prepared script. “And the baby bib with your baby ass.”
Adams then chimed in with an unscripted remark.
"And I bet you he never saw a nipple like this in his life,” he said with a laugh.
“Yeah, I’mma let that just hang in the air for a little while,” responded Redd, with a baby bottle prop in hand.
Many journalists who were in the room thought Adams’ comment was unnecessarily personal – and a veiled reference to Hicks’ sexual orientation.
Hicks declined to comment on the mayor’s remarks.
“I’m deeply grateful for the support of my editors and The Post,” he added. “We’re going to keep on questioning officials and reporting the stories the city needs to know.”
Asked the next day to clarify what he meant by his “joke,” Adams insisted he was referencing the baby bottle.
“I had a baby bottle and the baby bottle had a large nipple,” he said Sunday afternoon at an unrelated press conference near City Hall. “I’m sure he’s never saw a baby bottle with a nipple that size.”
Hicks’ name also got dropped in a skit featuring Tracy Morgan, who feigned ignorance about what the Inner Circle was in a video played for the crowd ahead of Adams’ performance.
“What the f–k is the Inner Circle? It sound like a cult, like some ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ s–t,” the comedian said, referencing the 1999 Stanley Kubrick movie.
When someone off-camera explained what the group was, Morgan jokingly expressed disappointment that famous on-air TV reporters aren’t included.
“That’s cool. Like Anderson Cooper, or Barbara Walters? What about Don Lemon? What about Chris Cuomo? Not even Chris Cuomo?! Who the f–k is Nolan Hicks?” he said. “This is some bulls–t, Nolan Hicks.”
Adams’ digs come a week after he blasted an unidentified reporter for “arrogantly” grilling him about whether he’d release his tax returns. The mayor said the reporter showed him “disrespect” for asking a simple yes-or-no question on the topic, and that’s why he initially responded with a “no” when asked if he would commit to releasing his tax returns.
Hicks was among several reporters to inquire about whether Adams would uphold the decades-long practice of Big Apple mayors disclosing their state and federal returns.
"I comply every year — every year! So when you arrogantly come to me, because you’re not gonna disrespect me, and ask a question like I gotta answer you yes or no, then you know what you’re gonna get? You’re gonna get a no!” Adams fumed last week during an interview with former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara.
Adams also accused the New York City press in February of misrepresenting his trip to Albany to ask for tweaks to progressive criminal justice policies because of their lack of racial diversity.
Hicks was not the only reporter referenced during Saturday evening’s production.
When a City Hall staffer acting as Mays, who covers local politics for The Times, asked a question about Adams’ tax returns, Redd’s less guarded Adams alter ego referred to him as “Carlton Banks” — a prim and proper black character from a wealthy family in the ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“Here we go. Well, thank you very much, Carlton Banks from the sad ‘Fresh Prince’ reboot,” said Redd, referring to the present-day version of the show that airs on NBC streaming service “Peacock.”
“But the crystals in my random-ass bracelets are telling me you want the smoke,” added Redd, poking fun at the several bracelets Adams wears, including an “energy stone” on his right wrist.
“And let’s be clear, Jeff in a daze — I mean Jeff Mays — we gotta get it right,” added Adams.
This is not Bel-Air — this is New York,” Redd quipped. “You get in one little fight, and you’ll disappear, you understand?
When it was News reporter Sommerfeldt’s turn to ask a question at the mock presser, Redd scoffed, “Ooooh this a–hole, with his hard-hitting questions. Let me guess, you were gonna ask about my pinky finger injury here?” in reference to Adams’ recent injured pinky finger.
“Yes,” replied the mayoral staffer acting as Sommerfeldt.
“Listen, don’t even worry about the pinkie finger. What you need to worry about is why is this one wrapped,” said Adams, giving him a one-finger salute.
“And by the way, you need to get a hat that’s better for your head and use the brothers’ and sisters’ soap and water to wash the one you’re wearing,” Adams continued.
Chimed in Redd, “’cause your head is dirty as hell."
Sommerfeldt declined to comment and News editor in chief Andrew Julien said the paper “has no comment at this time.”
Mays did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
A spokesperson for the New York Times said, “We don’t believe jokes about violence against reporters are ever appropriate.”
On Sunday, the mayor insisted the jabs were good, clean fun.
“Listen, this is satire,” he said. “I had so much fun last night! People joked at me, I joked at them.”
After arriving to the show late and missing the first and second acts, the mayor cracked other self-deprecating jokes after taking the stage around 11:20 p.m., including about his frequent use of the word “swagger.”
Henry Goldman, a former Bloomberg reporter and 23-year-member of the Inner Circle, called the mayor’s tardiness “really bad form.”
“It’s not just rude. There’s people that paid a lot of money to honor the mayor — they came here as a gesture of respect, etc.,” he told The Post. “He botched it.”
Adams also dubbed the press corps “the Eric Adams fan club,” and called reporters “the city’s greatest people” for bringing the public the news they need to know.
The mayor took a jab at the New York Daily News, jokingly asking if the struggling publication “still exists.”
And former Mayor Bill de Blasio was also ribbed about his infamous inability to be on time and seeming lack of enthusiasm about doing his job compared to his successor.