Inner Circle (parody group)

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The Inner Circle is an American parody group made up of seasoned reporters, bloggers, web journalists, and television and radio personalities. It hosts an event every year in March at the New York Hilton, and each year the show has a different theme. There is a strict "No Professional Talent" rule.[1]


The Inner Circle was established in 1922 by New York City newspaper reporters covering City Hall. The organization is a successor to Amen Corner and the Association of City Hall Reporters, two groups of reporters who would parody local politicians at what were called "stunt dinners". The Inner Circle sought to expand the reach of the group by satirizing national politicians as well.[2]

Women in the Inner Circle[edit]

Prior to 1973, women were not permitted to join the Inner Circle or take part in the show, and female guests were relegated to the balcony. Dorothy Schiff, owner and publisher of the New York Post, refused to attend in protest, and Mayor Lindsay's wife Mary would flick peanuts from her balcony table at the men seated below.

In 1972, the Inner Circle held a meeting to discuss whether or not they should permit women to join. George Douris, of the Long Island Press, and Mickey Carroll argued in favor of admitting women. Two Daily News newsmen, Eddie O'Neill and Owen Fitzgerald, argued against. The meeting concluded with a decision that a vote would be conducted by mail. The mailed-in vote was 69-to-15 in favor of the motion, and it was decided that the four new members for the 1973 show would be women. The first women to be admitted to the Inner Circle were Edith Evans Asbury of The New York Times, Marcia Chambers of the Associated Press, Jean Crafton of the Daily News, and Maureen O'Neill of Newsday. The show began with the following announcement: "... the Inner Circle, 50 years old and they've just learned about girls". This was followed by the first four female members singing the Maurice Chevalier song, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls".[3]

The 1972 debacle[edit]

On April 15, 1972, the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) used the annual show to hand out leaflets to raise awareness about gay rights issues at the time. The leaflets accused the news media and New York City government of discriminating against gay people. The GAA expected the Inner Circle audience to be largely made up of journalists and members of the press. However, the journalists were backstage, preparing for the show, and the actual audience consisted mostly of politicians, judges and labor union people. While coming up the escalator to hand out fliers to the crowd, one of the activists grabbed Mickey Maye, the leader of the firefighter's union at the time, by the groin. Maye, a former Golden Gloves boxer, knocked the activist down the escalator. Maye was arrested and charged with harassment.[4] Inner Circle members did not find out about this until it was written about in the news.

Structure of the show[edit]

The Inner Circle show is divided into two acts.

  • The first act focuses on lampooning the current New York City Mayor
  • The second act attacks state and national politics. During the 1990s, the Inner Circle also began to focus on celebrities

The show is followed by a rebuttal from the current mayor of New York.


  • 1923: The first ever Inner Circle satirized Governor Alfred E. Smith in a musical comedy called "The Supersmith".
  • 1947: Governor Thomas E. Dewey and Mayor William O'Dwyer were parodied in "The Axeman Cometh".[5]
  • 1954: Governor Dewey and Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. were lampooned in "Ringmaster".[6]
  • 1960: Mayor Wagner cut his vacation in the Bahamas short so that he would be able to attend the Inner Circle show.[7]
  • 1962: President Kennedy, Governor Rockefeller and Mayor Wagner were parodied with a song called "The Unsinkable Bobby Wagner, or How to Succeed in Politics Without Really Trying".[8]
  • 1967: Mayor Lindsay appeared in a sequined tie, dancing such popular dance moves as The Frug and The Swim.[9]
  • 1968: Mayor Lindsay was portrayed as an airplane hijacker trying unsuccessfully to land in Cuba, but whom the Cubans would not allow to land because they "had enough of their own troubles already".[10]
  • 2000: Mayor Rudy Giuliani was dressed in drag and flirts with real estate developer, and later President, Donald Trump. The scene culminates with Trump nuzzling his face into Giuliani's fake breasts, with the mayor exclaiming "Oh, you dirty boy, you!", slapping Trump in the face, and distancing herself to add "Donald, I thought you were a gentleman!" Trump replied "Can't say I didn't try!" [11]
  • 2008: The Inner Circle enacted a last-minute change to the show after Governor Eliot Spitzer became embroiled in a prostitution scandal.[12] Several jokes about the scandal were incorporated into the show, including the addition of a song called "Love Client Number 9" (a spoof of "Love Potion No. 9").[13]
  • 2011: In "Meet the Focker-Uppers", the Inner Circle unknowingly predicted the Anthony Weiner sexting scandals, by superimposing Weiner's face onto a shirtless photo of Representative Chris Lee, who had recently resigned after soliciting a woman on Craigslist; Inner Circle's then-president, Mark Lieberman, joked that Weiner was "picking up where Congressman Lee left off".[14]

Mayoral rebuttals[edit]

A screenshot of footage from the Mayor's Inner Circle Press Roast, depicting Rudy Giuliani, dressed in drag, flirting with Donald Trump.

For the first few decades of the Inner Circle, the incumbent New York Mayor would deliver a rebuttal to the show in the form of a humorous speech. This changed in 1966, when Mayor John Lindsay instead performed a song-and-dance routine with actress Florence Henderson,[15] setting a precedent which continues into the present day.


  1. ^ "Politics Reporters in New Stunt Club". The New York Times. February 25, 1923. p. E1.
  2. ^ "Our story". Inner Circle Show. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  3. ^ "4 Women Get Into the Act In Reporters' Show Here". The New York Times. March 4, 1973. p. 25.
  4. ^ Fosburgh, Lacey (May 23, 1972). "Maye Is Held as Harasser In Gay Alliance Outbreak". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Inner Circle 'Ribs' Political Leaders". The New York Times. March 30, 1947. p. 24.
  6. ^ "Dewey Sketched As A 'Ringmaster'". The New York Times. March 7, 1954. p. 38.
  7. ^ "Wagner's Return". The New York Times. March 6, 1960. p. 33.
  8. ^ "Politics Chanted For Inner Circle". The New York Times. March 11, 1962. p. 66.
  9. ^ Clark, Alfred E. (March 5, 1967). "The City's Leading Non-Square Steals Show From Inner Circle". The New York Times. p. 43.
  10. ^ "Inner Circle Reporters Lampoon Mayor, Nixon and Rockefeller". The New York Times. March 23, 1969. p. 41.
  11. ^ "Rudy Giuliani in Drag Smooching Donald Trump". YouTube. itsgiulianitime. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  12. ^ Huff, Richard (March 11, 2008). "Luv guv makes Inner Circle spoof change its tune". NY Daily News.
  13. ^ "Local Reporters Roast Spitzer, Bloomberg At Inner Circle Dinner". NY1. March 16, 2008.
  14. ^ "Former Rep. Weiner doesn't appreciate comparison to former Rep. Chris Lee at Inner Circle dinner". NY Daily News. June 19, 2011.
  15. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (March 7, 1966). "Lindsay's Song-and-Dance Idea Kept Under Wraps for a Month". The New York Times. pp. 29–30.
  16. ^ a b Firestone, David (March 3, 1997). "Jaws Drop As Giuliani Steals Show In Heels". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "Inner Circle". The New York Observer. March 13, 2006. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008.
  18. ^ "Mayor Roasts Himself At Annual Inner Circle Charity Dinner". NY1. April 15, 2007.
  19. ^ "'Focker-Uppers' Is Thumbs Up!". Inner Circle Show. March 28, 2011.
  20. ^ Paybarah, Azi (March 29, 2009). "Caroline Kennedy at the Inner Circle". The New York Observer.
  21. ^ Lucadamo, Kathleen (March 16, 2008). "Bloomberg does song, dance for charity". NY Daily News.
  22. ^ "Bloomberg's 'Flower Power' Gets Laughs at 'Inner Circle'". NBC New York. March 29, 2010.

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