So Anderson Cooper couldn't get through a spot about Buffalo's Dyngus Day celebration without exploding into a prolonged fit of giggles.
So his words during the segment on the annual post-Lenten festival were short and pithy:
"So stupid really so stupid."
And so the CNN host had to walk off the air briefly during his Tuesday night "Anderson Cooper 360" show, to gather his composure after showing video of Buffalo people dancing and partying.
Despite all this, Buffalo's Polish-American community chose to take the high road in the wake of Cooper's televised comments.
The high road -- and the humorous one.
Local organizers of Dyngus Day festivities laughed off Cooper's comments and offered in return the chance for Cooper to be the star of next year's Dyngus Day festival, as the very first Pussy Willow Prince.
It's only fitting, Buffalonians said.
After all, next year Dyngus Day falls on a day that will suit Cooper just fine: April Fool's.
Cooper issued an apology Wednesday before talking with Dyngus Day Buffalo co-founder Eddy Dobosiewicz at the end of the 8 p.m. broadcast of his show.
"My giggling fit was stupid," he said. "It's stupid that a grown man giggles like a 13-year-old girl meeting Justin Beiber for the first time. And it isn't the first time it's happened."
He then played a clip of a giggling fit from his "RidicuList" feature last Aug. 17.
Cooper noted that Dyngus Day is one of many "quirky little customs" observed across America "and I enjoy them. It's part of what makes this country great."
He concluded his short chat with Dobosiewicz with a conditional acceptance of his invitation to come here next Dyngus Day, depending on events.
"I would love to be that first Pussy Willow Prince," Cooper said. "Let's talk again next year."
Earlier Wednesday, Marty Biniasz, a co-founder of Buffalo's Dyngus Day event, was ready to make the best of the publicity about the event.
"We're going to turn this into a positive," he said. "We'd love Anderson to experience this unique festival for himself. Based on his comments from last night, and his laughter, we think it's appropriate."
And, added Biniasz: "We're going to be shipping [him] off a box of sausage."
Cooper would not talk directly to The Buffalo News about the flap.
But, by Wednesday afternoon, his staff was offering this statement on his behalf:
"I am concerned to hear that some people believe that I called Dyngus Day celebrations 'stupid' or in any way criticized this holiday. I did not. While in the midst of a silly giggle fit I said 'this is so stupid' in reference to my inability to stop laughing. I was not saying Dyngus Day was 'so stupid.' I apologize to anyone who got the impression that I was being critical of Dyngus Day. I am genuinely sorry if I offended anyone by the lighthearted tone of the RidicuList."
The Buffalo-themed segment, which appeared as a "RidicuList" item on the show, was featured on Cooper's website Wednesday. During the segment, Cooper showed video of Buffalo people dancing, feasting and drinking, and wearing traditional Polish costumes. There was also a short clip of a Buffalo Dyngus Day organizer speaking. (The segment can be viewed by accessing this story on buffalonews.com).
During the spot, Cooper said this:
"It sounds like a bunch of waterlogged drunk people hitting each other with sticks. There ain't no party like a Dyngus Day party 'cause a Dyngus Day party is the most random excuse to drink there is. And to the good citizens of Buffalo wringing out their clothes, tending to their beer and kielbasa hangovers and pussy willow welts today, happy belated Dyngus Day."
The immediate response to Cooper's comments was surprise.
"There are still certain people who look down on [Polish customs] as being something peasant, or pedantic, or dumb," said the Rev. Czeslaw Krysa, the rector of the Oratory of St. Casimir in the city. "I feel sorry for the guy; he's speaking out of ignorance."
But the response from Buffalo's Polish-descended community struck many as gracious, especially considering that generations of Poles in the United States struggled with labels and jokes about "stupidity."
"I'm glad he apologized, but it was insensitive," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said of Cooper, during a Wednesday event in Buffalo.
Schumer earlier in the day issued a rebuttal to Cooper through Twitter, tweeting that the host "shouldn't mock what he doesn't understand" and that "Dyngus Day is a fine Buff tradition -- he ought to stop by 4 some Polish sausage."
Others noted that Cooper's criticism ridicules a tradition that is for Poles and Polish-Americans part of a religious season that encompasses Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and then the joyful, happy season after Easter.
"Ninety percent of our traditions come out of our faith," said Krysa. "Traditionally, we don't have music, weddings, and dances during Lent. Faith doesn't have to always be serious. There's a playful element in our religion, which combines folk songs with music and dancing the fact is, we ourselves see a reality that goes beyond the concrete."
"This revelry is like the community's 'Alleluia.' "
On Dyngus Day, always the day after Easter, festivities include food and drink, polka music and dancing, and parties and parades. Part of the day's frolics include a Polish custom in which men and women interested in each other in romantic ways show signs of their affection, the men by tapping the women with pussy willows, the women by sprinkling the men with water.
"It's part of Easter celebrations for Polonia," said Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, a former pastor at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, a major Polish-American parish in the region.
"The feasting is there because we are trying to remind ourselves that Easter is not just one day, but the 50 days of the Easter season," Grosz said. "The Polish people are saying, 'The celebration is not just one day, it continues into the next day.' "
Dyngus Day organizers noted that an estimated 50,000 people attended Dyngus events in the city this year.
The size and scope of the day's festivities have been steadily growing, Biniasz said.
"No other city celebrates Dyngus Day the way we do," he said. "We've put the American spin on Dyngus Day just as Americans put the American spin on St Patrick's Day. In Poland, it's kids just pranking around and splashing some water. They don't have the big parties, big celebrations -- that's what we do. We don't make this part up: We are the Dyngus Day capital of the world."
The "Dyngus Day Buffalo" event saw one positive aftereffect from Cooper's spot, Biniasz said -- some 90,000 hits on the event's website, which Cooper mentioned during his initial segment.
"Anderson Cooper giving out the Web address -- DyngusDayBuffalo.com -- was a bonanza for Dyngus Day," Biniasz said.
"From an economic standpoint, Dyngus Day is starting to pay off for Western New York. If we can see that continue to grow, that benefit will increase."
As for the uproar surrounding Cooper's remarks, Grosz, the auxiliary bishop, said that the situation is calling attention to one strong asset of our region: our differences.
"That's the beauty of Buffalo," Grosz said.
"That we have so many different cultures, so many different people together -- and all of us are coming together to appreciate each other."
News Staff Reporter Dale Anderson contributed to this report.