After the requisite paean to his immigrant ancestors, Guiliani recalled hosting Saturday Night Live. In one skit, he had to play an Italian grandmother. “I immediately rolled down my socks,” he said. Then he was stymied. The director told Guiliani to channel one of his own grandmothers.
The morning after the show, Guiliani nervously called his mother, fearing she would be offended by his portrayal. “Did you see me, Ma?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. “But you weren’t on after the monologue.”
“That’s right, Ma,” Guiliani said. Then he hung up.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh served as both Guiliani’s award presenter and his opening act. Freeh recalled his early days in New York when he was a young FBI agent and Guiliani was the US attorney prosecuting organized crime. Freeh was assigned to watch a mobster who conducted all of his business in a local health club. When the mobster was eventually indicted, he spotted Freeh in the courtroom. He pointed to Freeh and told the judge, “The kid had nothing to do with it.”
Despite their stellar performances, neither Guiliani nor Freeh got the most enthusiastic applause from the audience. Who wowed the crowd? Not Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, not House speaker Nancy Pelosi or Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo or soap-opera diva Susan Lucci. The ultimate adulation was reserved for former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra and Italian movie icon Gina Lollobrigida.