Thursday evening, Stephen Colbert delivered the closing speech at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, one of the most high-profile events honoring Catholics and Catholicism in America. Invited by Cardinal Timothy Dolan himself, Colbert is considered by some to be America's most influential Catholic.
Unlike that other time Colbert delivered a high-profile address, he received a mostly warm response from the crowd. However, he received some notable groans when making a joke at the expense of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and a least one undercover cop who was arrested for taking part in a motorcycle stunt that injured several.
You can listen to Colbert's entire speech here. We've collected his best quotes from the dinner below.
- "The last time I spoke on a dais like this was during the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, so I hope you will give me the same respectful silence I received that night."
- "I am proud to be America's most famous Catholic. I'm sure the Cardinal is thinking, Stephen, pride is a sin. Well Cardinal, so is envy, so we're even."
- "Since [Al Smith] first shattered the stained glass ceiling, America has seen a flood of Catholic presidents, from John F. Kennedy, to JFK to good old Jack Kennedy."
- "We got close-ish in 2004 with John Kerry, who was a deeply Catholic candidate. In that listening to him talk was like attending a Latin mass."
- "Your Eminence. That's a fantastic title. He's not just sitting there, he's emanating. He's like a fog of cardinal-ness. On the other hand, The Eminence sounds like the most boring Spider-Man villain of all time."
- "I have great respect for Cardinal Dolan. Although I have to say, sir, it's not easy while you're wearing that outfit. In that cape and red sash, you look like a matador who's really let himself go. Did you not see the invite? It said white tie, not Flamboyant Zorro."
- "I'm not saying New York is gay Mecca, but it's at least Gay-rusalem."
- "[Pope Francis] is off message, saying Catholics need to stop obsessing over homosexuals, abortion and contraception. For Pete's sake, we need something to be obsessed about since 'Breaking Bad' is over!"
- "The Pope is constantly talking about how the Church doesn't need to be so dogmatic or hierarchical. Which forces me to ask the eternal question: Is the Pope Catholic? And if not, where are bears going to the bathroom?"
- "Everyone knows Chris [Matthews] is host of 'Hardball.' I've got some good news, Chris. It turns out that having 'hardball' is now covered by Obamacare."
- (to Governor Andrew Cuomo) "Donald Trump is after your job. Sir, if you find orange bronzer stains on your office doorknob, just get out of there."
- "I'm a huge fan of Ray Kelly. Wonderful to see you here at these events. Did you come alone tonight, or did you bring the whole biker gang?" (audience groans) "It's for charity! He's a big boy. ...I'm in trouble."
- "Future mayor of New York City Christine Quinn is here tonight. Oh, sorry, I wrote that a long time ago. ... New York City is the only place in the world where the lesbian candidate is too conservative."
- "In all seriousness, tonight is about the littlest among us. Speaking of which, is Mayor Bloomberg here?"
- "The real reason [Bloomberg] doesn't want drink cups over 16 oz. is because he's afraid he might drown in one."