New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was defending himself Thursday after he learned the hard way that jokes about the "inebriated Irish" do not go over well with an Irish audience, MyFoxNY reported.
The mayor's stand-up act fell flat Wednesday night when he told a crowd at the American Irish Historical Society that he's used to seeing drunks hanging out the windows of its Fifth Avenue headquarters, around the corner from his town house in NYC, the Irish Central Web site reported.
"I live in the neighborhood, right around the corner," the mayor said. "Normally, when I walk by this building, there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window. I know that's a stereotype about the Irish, but nevertheless, we Jews around the corner think this."
The remarks were met with a combination of laughs, boos and groans.
"He was trying to be funny," one official in the audience later told The New York Post. "It wasn't funny. Some people took it as a personal or ethnic [slur]."
This isn't the first time the mayor's inappropriate choice of words has raised eyebrows.
Last year, during a trip to Hong Kong, he asserted that incoming members of Congress "can't read," to make the point that they're unprepared on international issues.
Brian O'Dwyer, a prominent Manhattan lawyer who has worked with the mayor on Irish causes, chastised him for "engaging in stereotypes."
"It's unfortunate. The mayor has been great on Irish issues -- the peace process and immigration," O'Dwyer added.
"I wish he hadn't said it. It wasn't funny. But we're willing to forgive him."
Even City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the city's top Irish-American official and a Bloomberg ally, took him to task.
"Given the mayor's long history of support for the Irish community, his remarks last night were both surprising and inappropriate," said Quinn, who didn't attend the event celebrating publication of a book about the 250th anniversary of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
But like O'Dwyer, Quinn was quick to forgive.
"I am pleased to hear he has since apologized, and while he should not have said it, he has a great record on the issues. Let's move on," she said.
Bloomberg insisted he was merely trying to inject "good fun" into the book event, and wasn't out to denigrate anyone.