Cuomo strayed onto the risky terrain of religious humor and stereotypes while thanking the congregation at Mount Neboh Baptist Church for the invitation to speak.
Become a Harlem insider - Sign-Up for our Weekly Newsletter!
“I want you to know as a matter of full disclosure, I am a Catholic. Catholics basically believe the same teachings that Baptists believe,” he said. “We just do it without the rhythm. But we try. We are not as without rhythm as some of our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
Cuomo even singled out the off-beat swaying of Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, a former campaign adviser who is Jewish, who was sitting in the front row wearing a yarmulke.
“I was watching Mr. Sheinkopf here in the front row moving to the music,” Cuomo said of the politico, who was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi in 2011.
“It was ugly, I’ll tell you the truth,” the governor added.
Sheinkopf — who said he was at the church because he works for its pastor, the Rev. Johnnie Green, and his Mobilizing Preachers and Communities advocacy group — thought Cuomo’s joke fell flat.
“There weren’t many people laughing, but I didn’t feel humiliated,” he told The Post.
Sheinkopf also noted sarcastically: “He’s the governor. He’s now in charge of American dancing.”
Republican operative Arthur Schwartz, a Jewish, pro-Israel activist, wasn’t amused by Cuomo’s shtick.
“The governor should focus more on governing and less on Jew jokes,” he fumed.
State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), an Orthodox Jew, also gave Cuomo’s attempt at humor a thumbs-down.
“I don’t think it was that good a joke,” Felder said. “I can write better material.”
Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever said later about Cuomo: “He was clearly poking fun at himself and one longtime friend who was in the audience.”
Cuomo’s speech was intended to promote spending plans in the state budget due Saturday, and he noted that the state “will pledge $550 million to clean up public housing, which is the largest commitment in the state’s history.”
But Cuomo — who’s facing a re-election challenge from “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, a fellow Democrat — also used the address to step up his criticism of the city Housing Authority, saying its decrepit projects were helping to breed criminals.
“They talk about the school-to-prison pipeline, where people fail in school, can’t get a job and wind up in prison,” Cuomo said.