WATCH: Ed Koch's best TV moments

The late New York City mayor will be remembered as an enduring symbol of the city he served for three terms. He was pretty funny, too

Ed Koch gets his head powdered before the start of his new TV program called "Koch on Call" on March 15, 1987.
(Image credit: AP Photo/David Bookstaver)

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died Friday morning at age 88, from congestive heart failure. Koch, says Robert McFadden in The New York Times, was "the master showman of City Hall," and "parlayed shrewd political instincts and plenty of chutzpah into three tumultuous terms as mayor of New York." Serving from 1978 to 1990, Koch became a symbol of New York, standing outside subway stations shaking hands and asking his trademark, "How'm I doin?"

"For most people in New York, Koch is the mayor,” New York University Professor Mitchell Moss tells The New York Sun. But Koch was also pretty funny, and he parlayed his political fame into a respectable side gig in show business, appearing on TV shows from Spin City to Sex and the City and in movies from The Muppets Take Manhattan to, most recently, Koch, a documentary that debuted on Tuesday — an event Koch had to miss because he was in the hospital. Here's a look at some of Koch's forays into TV, including some of his funniest turns in front of the camera:

Koch appeared on Saturday Night Live at least four times while he was mayor, and he hosted the show in 1983. Here's his monologue (yes, there are Ronald Reagan jokes):

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo help Koch make fun of his bald pate in this skit, "Bald No More":

Here, Koch takes the stage in 1984 for a group monologue with four co-hosts: Billy Crystal, Edwin Newman, Father Guido Sarducci, and Betty Thomas:

In case you're wondering why Billy Crystal is in blackface, here's the lead-in skit:

When fellow octogenarian Betty White hosted SNL in 2010, Koch took the occasion to rate her hosting chops — and look back on his own history with the show, including his 1978 appearance with the Rolling Stones:

Koch didn't just show off his unique brand of comedy on Saturday Night Live. This Ricky Skaggs video for "Country Boy" is worth watching just to see bluegrass legend Bill Monroe soft-shoe on the New York City subway. Koch makes a lip-syncing cameo at the 1:40 mark:

In 2009, Koch appeared in a video series called Old Jews Telling Jokes — pretty much what it sounds like. In it, he recalls an anecdote called "Campaign Stop," say The Huffington Post comedy editors. "Standard joke or not, Koch nails it, cracking up the crew as the klezmer music fills the air":

Here (at the 1:36 mark), Koch turns an already pretty humorous video from successor Michael Bloomberg into "viral gold," says Rolando Pujol at the New York Daily News:

And finally, Koch appears in his own "Last Word" obituary, from The New York Times:

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.