Brian Moynihan brought the funny to Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel Thursday evening. The Bank of America chief was on hand to receive the first-ever Happy Warrior award at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, where he shared the dais with political dignitaries like Senator Chuck Schumer and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as comedic heavyweight Stephen Colbert. In his remarks, Moynihan cracked a few jokes at the expense of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Blackstone Group co-founder Steve Schwarzman that brought the house down.
The Al Smith dinner is the culmination of an annual Catholic charity drive that seeks to raise money to aid poor New York City children. This year, the foundation’s organizers announced that the dinner had raised $3 million, one-third of which came from Moynihan and his friends. The award Moynihan took home was meant to celebrate a corporate executive who embodied former New York Governor Al Smith’s character, grace and leadership skills and who had an established record of generosity.
Here a couple of Moynihan’s lines that got the biggest laughs:
On the Happy Warrior Award going to a bank CEO who has had a tough time:
Earlier this summer, Cardinal Dolan [the archbishop of New York] called me and he said, “We’re going to name an award the Happy Warrior Award and we want to give it to you.” I sort of said, “Why me? Why a bank CEO? We don’t get much awards these days.” His Eminence said they wanted to award a CEO who had been through the ringer over the last few years. He wanted to recognize a CEO whose every decision had been scrutinized. Every decision had been questioned by the press, by the politicians and others. So I thought about it. And then he said, “But Jamie wasn’t available.”
On Steve Schwarzman’s joke at the 2011 Al Smith dinner that Moynihan’s mother must be proud because her two sons (Moynihan’s brother Patrick worked as a missionary in Haiti) both work for non-profits:
We’ve made $28 billion after tax since Steve spoke that night. So being a good son, I called my mom and I said, “They’re going to give me an award in New York, Mom.” And I asked her about how you were proud of me as a non-profit but now we’re making money, so wouldn’t you be prouder of me than Mr. Schwarzman? She said, “No, I’m not.” I said, “Mom, how come?” She said, “Well Mr. Schwarzman has made more money than that personally in the past couple of years.” I said, “But Mom, it’s not fair–we actually had to pay taxes.”