JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Comedian Joe Piscopo wants you take him seriously.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the “Saturday Night Live” alumnus is laying the groundwork for a run for governor of New Jersey – and he has changed some of his plans for doing so.
Piscopo is a Jersey guy with a with a Jersey attitude. Baker thought it was only fitting to meet up with him for an interview at a Jersey diner – namely City Diner in Jersey City.
“We’re fighters in this state, and I think it’s about time somebody reached out and helped the people,” Piscopo said.
Baker asked Piscopo whether he has thought of a slogan for his campaign.
“No – somebody said, ‘Jersey Joe Piscopo for the People,’” he said. “How about, ‘Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli?’”
But the comedian said he knows the role of governor is no joke.
“Today I decided I’m not going to run as a Republican or as a Democrat,” Piscopo said. “I’ll go as an independent.”
Even though he is a conservative, Piscopo recently said it will be tough for a Republican to win. Baker notified that Piscopo “got himself into some trouble saying that.”
“Can we clarify here on CBS2?” Piscopo said. “Apparently, some of the Republicans got a little upset, and let me publicly apologize.”
On the heels of that comment, current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that Piscopo had close to zero chance of being governor.
“Getting political analysis from Joe Piscopo is probably less valuable than getting, you know, comedy analysis from me,” Piscopo said.
Baker noted that while Piscopo said Republicans cannot win, it is also true that an independent has never once won a gubernatorial race in New Jersey or even gotten close.
“You’re right, you’re right,” he said. “Can an independent win? I don’t know.”
But the comedian turned radio host thinks he has solutions – like cutting property taxes, and creating jobs by keeping drug firms in the state.
“Everything’s made in Ireland. Everything’s made in India. Why can’t we just make it in New Jersey?” Piscopo said. “Let’s revitalize Atlantic City. Let’s make Atlantic City the film capital of Northeast. Come on – I’ll make a couple calls. Cut that tax out.”
Piscopo also has an extraordinary idea to help first responders stay in New Jersey.
“The core of the community — firefighters, cops and teachers — I don’t think you should tax firefighters, cops and teachers. They put their lives on line literally every day,” he said.
Piscopo, 65, played a politician on TV. But he has never gotten into the ring himself until now.
“I met Ronald Reagan, and that kind of turned me into – you have a lifelong former Democrat, but as a Blue Dog Democrat; conservative Democrat, and I was emboldened to continue as a moderate or a conservative through Ronald Reagan when I met him – and I made fun of him on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Piscopo said.
And as of a victory song if he reaches that stage?
“We do the ’New York, New York’ parody called ‘New Jersey, New Jersey,’” Piscopo said.
And what would Frank Sinatra think of Piscopo running for governor?
“He would probably say, ‘Go for it, Joe baby! You’re a cuckoo kid! And you’re Italian! Do it baby!’” Piscopo said.
An ambassador for the Boys and Girls Club of New Jersey with five kids of his own, Piscopo said he was driven to run for the next generation. He said he will not formally announce until June, so that he can stay on his morning radio talk show.