Howard Zemsky had an unenviable assignment during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's appearance at SUNY Buffalo State on Wednesday, but he did the best he could with it.
Zemsky, Cuomo's economic czar, was tasked with introducing the scores of luminaries at the event who didn't merit a name check from the governor himself.
Zemsky went through names for about six minutes, but he inserted a few light touches.
After introducing University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi, for example, Zemsky drew laughter when he quipped, "I say about Satish that between he and I, we have two Ph.D.s – both of them are his."
When he finished his lengthy list, Zemsky deadpanned, "Is there anybody in the room I haven't mentioned?"
Mayor Byron Brown also had some fun.
Brown began with the usual praise for the governor – "no greater friend," "working nonstop" – but then went to another level after saying he got a preview of Cuomo's speech.
"I was literally floating as I came into the room thinking about the additional $12.7 billion for Buffalo and Western New York," Brown said of a figure touted by the governor.
Brown then lauded Cuomo as "a dynamic speaker" and said the governor had his full attention.
"And there was a time during the speech I was almost literally brought to tears – in fact almost brought to my knees – because there were a couple of times the governor said a few extra billions for Buffalo," he said.
What was the mayor talking about? Well, Cuomo, as he rattled off how much the state was investing in various local projects, said $2.2 "billion" for Science Museum restoration work.
While that would pay to build an entirely new Science Museum out of Legos, Brown said he quickly realized it said "million" on the screen.
"It is still more than phenomenal, this budget, for Western New York," Brown concluded.