PITTSBURGH — Mayor Michael Nutter admitted to an audience in Pittsburgh tonight that no, he is not a comedian.
“I don’t tell jokes well,” Nutter said, “but I am funny.”
His style is that of a “counter puncher,” the mayor said: “If you say something, I will fuck you up.”
Nutter was the main attraction at the annual Candidates Comedy Night. The fundraiser in Pittsburgh for the Allegheny County Musical Festival Fund, supports programs for children in the Department of Human Services. Now in its 16th year, the fund has raised more than $700,000 for DHS since its inception. Pittsburgh audiences pay upwards of $500 per table to listen to politicians and judges up for reelection try to be funny (some are, some aren’t). Jokes about indicted Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was not in attendance, were the theme of the evening. Allegheny County Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Republican Chairman Jim Roddey were other headliners of the event (if you can call politicians “headliners), which was emceed by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier.
And even though the lineup was heavily weighted with candidates from the western half of Pennsylvania, Nutter was not the only one representing the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin Dougherty, who also warned the crowd that he was not funny, and tried to appease the Pittsburghers by tossing a “yinz” into his schtick, said the city was looking forward to the Pope’s visit next month.
“We’re hoping he will change the polluted water in the Schuylkill River to polluted wine,” Dougherty said.
“He absolutely told the truth,” Nutter said of Dougherty, “he is not funny. But that’s why he’ll be a great Supreme Court justice.”
As the audience laughed, Nutter said “I’ll pay for that back home. But, I leave in January, so what the fuck.”
The mayor seemed at ease on stage but said comedy was one of the most terrifying venues for an elected official, even one as seasoned as himself. “There is the risk of being a complete asshole on stage,” he said. “I mean, I can fuck up on my own, I don’t need any help.”
So instead of inflicting what he said would be “painful” comedy on the audience, Nutter went with the old standby from his radio DJ days: He performed the old-school Sugar Hill Gang song Rapper’s Delight in its entirety. And it brought down the house; echoing his July 4 performance with the Roots at Welcome America, Nutter ended the song with a literal mic drop, and strolled off stage.
After his performance, Nutter schmoozed with some Pittsburgh-area political types in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Improv club. He talked about a few things on the horizon for him when he leaves office in January, including working toward a solution for the education funding crisis in Philly, resolving the Lyft and Uber situation in the city, and acting as co-chair of the PHL2016 committee prepping for the Democratic National Convention next summer.
And while he says he plans to stay in Philadelphia, he’s not totally sure what he may do next.
“When you’re in public service, you have to have a sense of humor,” he said. “Would I do stand-up comedy? Maybe.”