Stephen Colbert had some serious questions for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, but he first had to know where she stood on two matters of enormous interest to Chicagoans – her favorite deep dish pizza, and whether she roots for the Cubs or Sox.
Lightfoot taped her slightly over six-minute segment of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on Monday, with it telecast on Friday night.
Colbert also covered the recent dinner Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshleman, had with Oprah Winfrey when they visited southern California. And some viewers learned the slogan Lightfoot ran on to become president of her Ohio high school class.
Colbert started by asking Lightfoot about her 90-year-old mother; Lightfoot said it was “pretty awesome” for her mother to be able to witness what Colbert called her “historic win,” a reference to Lightfoot being the first openly gay, female African American Chicago mayor.
Colbert, a Northwestern University graduate and Second City alum, said he “lived in Chicago for 11 years, and I have so many happy memories. But there are conflicts in Chicago all that people argue about all the time there.”
That led him to ask the mayor her favorite deep dish pizza joint.
Replied Lightfoot: “It’s got to be Pizano’s”
A query to City Hall on Friday locked in that the Pizano’s Lightfoot was raving about is the one at 2106 S. Indiana.
And as for Sox or Cubs, Lightfoot said, “Sox all the way,” with Colbert joking about her writing off the North Side.
Turning serious, Colbert said there were 530 murders in Chicago last year and asked what could she do differently from former Mayor Rahm Emanuel?
“One of the things that we’re doing is trying to focus every tool of city government on making sure that we’re supporting the neighborhoods, because what we’re experiencing is definitely a public health crisis,” she said.
“So we’re looking at the root causes of the violence, making sure that we’re in effect flooding the zones in the areas that are most distressed to make sure that we’re providing resources, jobs, economic development.”
She added that it was important to show “young people in those neighborhoods that we care about them (and) will then provide them with opportunities to be part of the legitimate economy.”
Colbert asked Lightfoot how framing the gun deaths as a public health crisis changed anything.
“Because it forces us to really look at the root causes. We got neighborhoods where the unemployment rate is 25% or higher, where 90% of the people in the neighborhood depend on government assistance. There’s an absence of jobs, good quality schools.”
Lightfoot said she’s convinced that “building up the quality of life in those neighborhoods’ “ is “absolutely going to drive down the violence.”
Colbert noted Chicago’s strict anti-gun laws have not stopped shooting deaths, and Lightfoot lamented about the porous Indiana and Wisconsin borders.
“Well, part of the challenge for Chicago is we’re right door to Indiana where you can literally drive on the border and get military-grade weapons in any quantity without a background check. And then they bring them back into the city of Chicago.”
Turning back to lighter subjects, Colbert asked Lightfoot if she was nervous before her dinner with Oprah, and she said she was, a little. Colbert jokingly asked if there was a big present - a reference to Oprah’s audience giveaways when she was a talk show host in Chicago.
The closer was Lightfoot telling a story about her run for class president on the issue of “terrible” lunchroom food.
Lightfoot noted her slogan was: “Get on the Right Foot with Lightfoot.”