Stephen Colbert's brutal takedown of Bloomberg leaves his own audience wincing

Chris Riotta

Late night host Stephen Colbert left his audience seemingly cringing at a series of tough punchlines aimed at Mike Bloomberg, attacking the billionaire Democratic presidential hopeful for his past support of the controversial stop-and-frisk programme.

The comedian targeted Mr Bloomberg and other leading White House hopefuls after the latest Democratic debates in South Carolina, mocking the former New York City mayor for his performance on Tuesday night.

“Mayor Bloomberg tried to explain how much he has learned” since he oversaw the programme in New York City that targeted black and brown communities and was later ruled unconstitutional in its implementation, the late night host said before playing a clip of the candidate defending himself.

The former mayor said in the clip that he “met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself”.

Mr Colbert then responded: “Mr Mayor, I have a feeling a lot of black leaders want your position to be spread eagle up against a wall.”

At one point, the audience could be heard audibly jeering when the late night host mocked Mr Bloomberg for pointing out the black members of the audience who had endorsed him, saying: “A lot of them are in the audience tonight, officers—stop them, check their pockets, there’s an endorsement in there someplace, I promise you.”

As the crowd appeared to react with hesitancy to the joke, Mr Colbert quipped: “All of Bloomberg’s voters are here tonight I think.”

The late night host also mocked Mr Bloomberg for suggesting his former employees who have signed nondisclosure agreements simply didn’t like callous jokes he made while on the job.

Mr Colbert played a clip of Mr Bloomberg joking about New York City’s infamous Naked Cowboy at Times Square, adding: “Oh, OK, now I understand why he asks people to sign an NDA after he tells a joke … No one wants to remember that.”

He added: “Now, for those of you who don’t live in New York City, there’s this crazy man who wanders around the city and will not leave people alone. And that man’s name is Mike Bloomberg.”

Mr Colbert also joked about the other leading Democrats, pointing out how Bernie Sanders was attacked from all sides while impersonating the Vermont senator, and noted the apparent failings of the moderators to keep the event organised.

“These folks said a lot of words, and I did not hear many of them,” he said. “Because these candidates were speaking all over each other.”

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