Toni Preckwinkle told a joke the other day. And people laughed.
“My grandmother used to talk about some of her friends who lived in Chicago and she said they would always say that they would rather be a lamppost in Chicago than City Hall in St. Paul,” she said.
The audience loved it.
Then Preckwinkle described her education: “I got a degree in General Studies in Social Science. I cheerfully admit it’s a dilettante’s degree.”
The audience loved that, too. So did the host.
“You know, the Reader says that you’re utterly humorless, and I don’t see it,” Bazer said. “But in another interview, you said your favorite comedian was Rodney Dangerfield. If you like Rodney Dangerfield, you can’t be humorless.”
“Actually, my husband told me to say that,” Preckwinkle admitted.
By then, Preckwinkle had won enough good will to spend the rest of the interview droning on about affordable housing, inclusionary zoning and living wage ordinances.
Preckwinkle certainly appears utterly humorless. She was a high-school history teacher for ten years, and still dresses the part, in wire-rimmed glasses, baggy skirts, and crepe-soled shoes. Tall and formidable, she emits a headmistress presence.
But the one time I interviewed Preckwinkle, I found her to be a pistol. Midway, she decided to tell me what she really thought of Barack Obama, and ordered me to turn off my digital voice recorder. I can’t print what she said, not just because it was off the record, but because … I can’t print it.
Preckwinkle proved she had a sense of humor just by going on a hipster faux-talk show. But she would only go so far for a laugh.
“One swear before we go?” Bazer asked, at the end of the interview.
“I don’t think so,” Preckwinkle said.