Satirist Stephen Colbert poked fun at Schenectady Monday night on his TV show, saying the best way to visit the area was through Google Maps.
Colbert was interviewing former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who is considering a campaign for U.S. Senate in New York. His quip came in response to Ford’s earlier statement that his only visit to Staten Island came when he “landed there in a helicopter.”
Said Colbert: “Are there other places in New York that you designate as ‘helicopter only?’ Because I would recommend that for Schenectady. I would just look at that on Google Maps.”
Colbert’s publicist was not available for comment.
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Chamber of Schenectady County President Charles Steiner, who occasionally watches “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central network, encouraged Colbert to visit Schenectady by helicopter.
“He will see a lot of growth and opportunity and he is going to want to land his apparatus here,” Steiner said. “We would welcome him to fly overhead, and when he does stop by we will be there to welcome him.”
Steiner said the chamber did not receive any feedback in the wake of Colbert’s quip. “I got a lot of more reaction when people saw [U.S. Rep. Paul] Tonko at the State of the Union address with the president and when ‘Saturday Night Live’ ran the footage as part of a skit,” he said.
James Salengo, executive director the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., also invited Colbert to visit Schenectady. “We would love him to do a show at Proctors.”
At Schenectady County Community College, several students interviewed on break were unaware of Colbert’s Schenectady comment.
Benjamin McCauley, 19, of Colonie, said Colbert pokes fun at everything. “It was inevitable he would poke fun at us. He has said worse things about other states and areas,” he said.
Andrew Boucher, 22, of Galway, said he was surprised Colbert had ever heard of Schenectady.
Mary Rose Petrozola, 22, of Niskayuna, said she could understand Colbert knowing about Schenectady 40 years ago. “It would have been uncommon then. Now, nothing ever goes on here.”
William Cole, 21, of Amsterdam, said he thought Colbert was being a bit unfair to Schenectady. “I would have been insulted. Every area has its problems. Schenectady has its good points and its bad points. If he really got a chance to come here, he would enjoy it.”
Matthew Carter, 18, of Fonda, thought Colbert’s comment was “a little extreme. Schenectady is a rather nice city.”
Added Holly Deyo, 21, of Glenmont, “It is not that trashy.” As if to emphasize Colbert’s place in her universe, she asked, “What time is his show on?”
Colbert has poked fun at other municipalities before. Two years ago, he picked on cities named Canton.
He first called Canton, Ga., the “crappy” Canton. Then he later issued an apology, saying he actually meant Canton, Kan., which he described as a “dump you could smell from Topeka.”
Then there was Canton, S.D., “North Dakota’s dirty ash tray.” But, at least Canton, S.D., wasn’t the “incorporated outhouse” of Canton, Texas.
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