Inner Circle Show

Our story

EAST MEETS WEST: Hizzoner Mike Bloomberg with stars of "Jersey Shore."

IC CLASSIC: Dancer Ann Miller, Mayor Ed Koch, and entertainer Mickey Rooney at the March 20, 1982 Inner Circle Show.

1982: Hizzoner Ed Koch and friends at the Inner Circle Show.

HOW'S HE DOIN? Mayor Ed Koch during his rebuttal at the 1982 Inner Circle Show.

THE CLASSIC: Mayor Rudy Giuliani as “Rudia,” aka Marilyn Monroe.

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Here are two interesting pieces on the history of the Inner Circle.  The first was written by our own Shelly Strickler in 2005 for Byline Magazine, the publication of the New York Press Club.  The second is a New York Times article from 1923 reporting on the formation of the Inner Circle.

Please click on the link to read Shelly’s article:

innercircle

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Generations have enjoyed the antics of the Inner Circle.

The group began in 1922 by New York City newspaper reporters covering City Hall. By the following February, as The New York Times reported in 1923, they were up to speed.

Here is that story:

POLITICS REPORTERS IN NEW STUNT CLUB

“The Inner Circle” Formed to Supersede the Amen Corner and City Hall Reporters.

A new organization of political writers who purpose to carry on the traditions established by the Amen Corner in the matter of holding stunt dinners has been formed. It is called the Inner Circle and its main function will be the giving of a dinner each year at which politics and politicians, national, state and city, will be satirized. The organization is modeled after the Gridiron Club at Washington, which holds two such stunt dinners a year.

For many years the Amen Corner in New York City served the purpose of holding the mirror up to local politicians. It was founded about twenty-five years ago, when Senator Thomas C. Platt was the biggest political figure in the State, and its name was taken from the Amen Corner, which he originated as a meeting place for politicians in the old Fifth Avenue Hotel. Such meetings were generally held on Sundays, hence the name.

Subsequently the political dinner of that name, given by the men who covered politics for the local newspapers, became a feature of city life. The first dinners were held in the old Fifth Avenue Hotel, but for a dozen years or more they have been held at the Waldorf-Astoria. Last year the Amen Corner did not hold a stunt dinner and, while the organization is still alive, its former character has changed somewhat.

To continue the idea of this kind of entertainment the Inner Circle was formed. It is composed exclusively of the men covering politics on the city newspapers, with former political writers as associate members. The new organization is also an outgrowth of the Association of City Hall Reporters, which began giving stunt dinners about eight years ago. Its function was limited to satirizing the City Administration, and the dinners had become so successful that it was decided to enlarge its sphere of activity and take in nation and State politics as subjects for lampooning.

This year the dinner will be held at the Hotel Astor on Saturday, March 3. Governor Alfred E. Smith and his supposed political ambitions, with a glance ahead to 1924, will be satirized in a five-act musical comedy entitled “The Supersmith.” The book and lyrics have been written by members of the organization, and the characters will be taken by the writers. Professional talent is not allowed.”

Among the highlights over the years:

1927 Mayor Jimmy Walker joined the reporters on stage in a show called “Off The Record” at the Hotel Astor. Governor Al Smith enjoys the antics from the audience.

1936 Reporters spoof Mayor Fiorella La Guardia’s difficulties with snow, noise and racketeering in “Quiet, Please! or What a Racket!”

1947 Governor Thomas E. Dewey and Mayor William O’Dwyer attend “The Axeman Cometh”

1954 In a skit titled “Dragnet,” the reporters chide the abolishment of the Police Dept. band and glee club with a trumpet solo sounding something like a Bronx cheer.

1966 Mayor John V. Lindsay enlists the help of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Fiddler on the Roof,”  to prepare his singing rebuttal to the reporters’ show.

Much has remained the same throughout the years. The show is still written and performed by the city’s reporters. Only now, the organization includes bloggers and web journalists along with television, radio and wire service reporters.

And despite the original rule that professional talent will not be allowed, many members  can actually carry a tune. They aren’t half-bad dancing, either. Their goal: to provide a fast paced, witty, funny review of the world of politics.

One major change: For years at the beginning, the reporters’ show was followed by a rebuttal by the mayor–delivered, with humor, in the form of a speech. Mayor John V. Lindsay changed all that in 1966 when, with the help of a straw hat, white gloves and cane, and an actress named Florence Henderson, he sang and danced his way through his rebuttal. The act drew a standing ovation, and set a precident for mayors that continues today.

Ed Koch popped out of the mouth of a man-eating plant from the Broadway show “Little Shop of Horrors”; David Dinkins had Mary Tyler Moore and Gregory Hines join him in a comedy newscast; Rudy Guiliani unveiled himself in a full-length gown and wig as, Rudia, and later sat down for a gangland spoof with the cast of “The Sopranos.”

The current Hizzoner, Michael Bloomberg, sang and danced with the Broadway casts of “Chicago,” “Spamalot”  and “Mary Poppins,” and once rode out of the show on a donkey that he dubbed The Burro of Manhattan.  He’s also appeared on stage with co-stars Caroline Kennedy and Quarterback Eli Manning.

The evening remains one of New York City’s major social events, a black tie affair at The New York Hilton attended by more than 1,000 movers and shakers.

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