If you’re from New Jersey, you’ve probably heard all those cracks about the Garden State. (Hey, truth be told, I’ve made a few myself, but only in self defense.)
Sunday night, backstage at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, I found the answer as to why we’re the punch-line of so many jokes.
It happened during the first New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at NJPAC. I was asked to do the voice over and announcing for the event. Quite an honor. I did it from back stage where all the honorees gathered.
- Gov. John Corzine was there chatting with Newark Mayor Corey Booker.
- Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was conversing with rock-and-roll legend Bruce Springsteen.
- To round out the group, singer Phoebe Snow was hanging out with Pulitzer Prize winning author, Toni Morrison.
- Of course there was Yankees legend, Yogi Berra sitting just a few chairs away from the military genius, General Norman Schwartzkopf.
- Speaking of genius, a few members of the Edison family stopped by to pick up an NJ Hall of Fame award, and maybe just to see if that New-Jersey-invented-electric-light-thing ever caught on.
It was somewhere between announcing Frank Sinatra’s award and the award they gave to publisher Malcom Forbes, when Saturday Night LIVE, star Joe Piscopo slapped me on the back and said, “Hey, great job, man…”
That’s when it dawned on me about the whole “New Jersey” thing.
The jokesters are jealous. Everyone mentioned here, Joe included, is from the garden state. And, obviously, everyone honored last night was from New Jersey.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure it out either. (You knew he was from New Jersey, right?)
Those people who make jokes about New Jersey are jealous that they don’t have a Yogi, or an Einstein, or an Edison or a Lombardi or a Harriet Tubman to call their own. Instead, they make a few wise cracks and pretend they’re from New York.
Hey, just ask Meryl Streep or basketball-star-turned-politician Bill Bradley, they’re proud to be from New Jersey.
And if there’s any question about the whole New Jersey thing, just ask “The Boss”. I would have done so myself, but I was way too star-struck to mutter a word.