NEW YORK — Let this be a lesson to anyone running for public office: leave comedy to the comedians. Hillary Clinton took a stab at an edgy racially-tinged joke at an appearance on Saturday with New York mayor Bill de Blasio, and predictably, it bombed.
The incident is fresh off her husband’s controversial and heated exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters last week in which the former president made comments like, “I’ll tell you another story about a place where black lives matter: Africa.”
As some saw the former president’s remarks condescending and for which Bill Clinton himself said he was ‘almost sorry,’ Hillary Clinton’s attempt at humor with a joke about “C. P. time” (slang for ‘colored people’ time, meaning frequently late) comes at a bad time.
The ill-advised joke took place at the annual Inner Circle Dinner for the political elite of New York. In a clearly scripted bit, Hillary refers to de Blasio’s long holdout before giving her campaign his endorsement saying, “took you long enough.”
De Blasio responds with “Sorry, Hillary. I was running on C. P. time,” to an audible cringe from the audience.
“Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., who is African American, was apparently part of the sketch and adds “I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”
Clinton then responds with the punchline, “cautious politician time.” The audience is notably silent.
While it was likely an attempt to be edgy, or a lighthearted attempt to connect with her African American constituents, the joke not only fell flat on stage, it lives on on the internet, where public response has been less than understanding. The video is making the rounds on social media, mostly to public condemnation.
The New York Daily News was especially critical with their front page headline.
De Blasio took to CNN on Monday to respond to the criticism.
“It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show. The whole idea was to do the counter-intuitive by saying ‘cautious politician time.’ Every actor thought it was a joke on a different convention. That was the whole idea,” he said. “I think people are missing the point here.”
“During an evening of satire, the only person this comment was meant to mock was the mayor,” de Blasio’s office said in a statement. “Certainly no one intended to offend anyone.”
Bakari Sellers, a news commentator for CNN, defended Clinton and de Blasion’s skit.
“We are not worried about jokes that may not be funny,” said Sellers. “This is not a big deal. It is a big deal that we have to remedy mass incarceration; it is a big deal that we have to remedy African-American wealth. That is what we have to focus on.”