We didn’t think it was possible, but this morning Mayor Mike Bloomberg held a news conference that was even cooler than his public appearance with the cast of Gossip Girl earlier this year.
The secret weapon? Muppets. Four talking Muppets. You can’t make this stuff up, folks!
In perhaps the silliest Bloomberg press conference this reporter has ever been to, the mayor, standing in front of a huge screen displaying the words “NYC Family Fun With the Muppets,” announced that the city’s tourism agency is partnering with the Muppets in a new marketing campaign. That’s right, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo the Great, and Pepe the King Prawn are going to be the new spokes-puppets for the Big Apple.
And what better way to announce this unique human-puppet partnership than to have the Muppets themselves come out and share a few words to reporters, who remained wide awake and alert during the news conference at the city’s Official NYC Information Center in midtown.
But first, anticipation! After six whole Muppet-less minutes of chit-chat (Bloomberg saying that families are a big part of the city’s tourism industry, pointing out they contributed $14 billion to the economy last year, calling the city’s museums and parks great, bla, bla, bla), Kermit the Frog made his entrance as the mayor made jokes that were equally as (um) hilarious as the ones he made at the Gossip Girl press conference.
“Having Kermit as a ‘Family Ambassador’ for New York is pretty exciting,” Bloomberg said as Kermit entered. “And I know it’s going to make other cities — listen carefully — just green with envy.” Hilarious.
Earlier in the conference, he said, referring to a scene he once did with Miss Piggy on a TV special, “I have to confess I did [pause] ham it up a bit,” followed by polite chuckles, which prompted the mayor to say, “Ah, good…I had to underline that.” (Smart move — a poorly-delivered joke at a recent Bloomberg press conference was followed by complete silence).
“Oh boy, you have a huge podium!” Kermit said as he made his way to the mic. “You know it’s not easy to actually bring tadpoles on vacation. You have to keep them in a jar. It’s very strange.”
Sounding very promotional, Kermit continued, “We’re very excited to tell the more than 50 million people a year who visit New York City about all the great places in all five boroughs where your families can have one-of-a-kind fun. There are so many landmarks and great cultural sites, eating and shopping…”
“Did someone say eating and shopping?” interrupted Miss Piggy who joined the press conference with her recognizable high-pitched squeals.
“You meet everyone. You eat anything you want,” Miss Piggy said. “Mayor Bloomberg even says it’s okay to have trans fats! Just this once, just this once,” she continued, gesturing to a half-smiling, slightly uncomfortable mayor. “I’ll be telling everyone about Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway,” she said.
After Miss Piggy, Gonzo the Great made his entrance, emphasizing the arts scene in his comments: “I’m hear to reach out to all of the one-of-a-kind artists like myself from around the world. If folks where you live think you’re a bit strange, come to New York, and you’ll feel right at home.”
Pepe the King Prawn apologized for being late because he was down at the Fulton Fish Market visiting his family. “New York is a non-stop party,” the final Muppet said.
The promotional effort and ridiculous spectacle is part of the city’s Family Ambassador Program, which started in 2009 — and will be branded with the Muppets throughout 2012. The initiative is designed to highlight family-friendly activities and provide offers to tourists for discounts at different destinations. Since the program’s inception, family visits to the city have increased by 14.4-percent, according to the mayor’s office.
Former Family Ambassadors include Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and the Smurfs.
Before the conference ended, Bloomberg made sure to get in a nice photo-op worthy smooch with Miss Piggy.
“Can I give Miss Piggy a kiss, because we’re old friends?” the mayor said, before giving the Muppet two quick pecks. And never, ever missing an opportunity to reference his kiss with Lady Gaga, the mayor quickly added, “You know one day Lady Gaga, and then Miss Piggy. You’re both great people, great women.”
“Which is the better kisser?” Miss Piggy said.
“Uhh, I never kiss and tell,” the mayor responded.
In an on-topic question and answer session, a reporter asked, “Mayor Bloomberg, are you a man or are you a muppet?” to which Bloomberg replied, “I have a Muppet at home that is a wonderful characterization of me.”
“I like to think of Mayor Bloomberg as an honorary Muppet,” Kermit chimed in.
A second reporter asked him about the Lady Gaga vs. Miss Piggy thing, and Bloomberg responded this time, saying, “They were both wonderful.”
He added, referring to his girlfriend Diana Taylor, “But a kiss with Diana is better. Just to get me through the evening.”
After the conference, photographer and reporters bickered with one another and tripped over each other as they all tried to get close-up shots of the mayor and the Muppets.