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‘The comedy routine America needs right now’: The Cuomo brothers return to prime time

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, left, interviews his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), on Monday night. (Image via Cuomo Prime Time/CNN)
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Last week, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and his younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, went viral after getting into what appeared to be a spur-of-the-moment debate on live television over who is their mother’s favorite son. So when people learned the elder Cuomo would be back on his brother’s show Monday, anticipation for another night of entertainment was high.

The brothers didn’t disappoint.

They got into it early when Chris, famous for loudly interrupting his guests, attempted to cut off Andrew, who had been talking for several minutes, so the show could break for commercials.

“Governor, I’m sorry to interrupt you,” Chris said.

“Then don’t,” Andrew shot back. “If you’re sorry about interrupting me, don’t interrupt me.”

“I know, but you have a little bit of Pop’s gift where you kind of keep going,” the anchor responded, referring to the pair’s late father, former New York governor and revered Democratic Party figure Mario Cuomo.

Throughout the roughly 20-minute interview, the brothers struck a balance between weighty and sometimes grim conversation about the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the nation, with New York particularly hard hit, and keeping each other’s egos in check with teasing, slinging mock insults in a practiced manner befitting two guys who have spent decades honing their skills.

Even after CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was diagnosed with covid-19, he and his brother Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) have continued to publicly joke with each other. (Video: The Washington Post)

At one point, the exchange even brought a smile to Gov. Cuomo’s face — a broad grin that’s rarely been seen since the outbreak.

Clips of the two men trading barbs circulated widely on social media Monday night, with one person calling the back-and-forth a “master class in backhanded compliments."

“The Cuomo Boys are the comedy routine America needs right now,” another viewer tweeted.

This isn’t the first time the Cuomos have fallen into old habits on air. Their public razzing was the subject of a “Daily Show” segment in 2015, during which then-host Jon Stewart remarked, “No matter how big or successful you are, you can always count on your siblings to bring you back to earth.”

The brotherly banter began just minutes into “Cuomo Prime Time” when Chris, 49, thanked Andrew, 62, for coming back on the show.

“Mom told me I had to,” the governor responded, the corners of his mouth lifting into a slight grin. Chris rolled his eyes.

Later, after the show experienced an audio problem that prevented Andrew from hearing his brother, the governor capitalized on the technical difficulty.

“I hear you, but you should pay your phone bill,” he cracked once the issue was resolved.

“I think the problem is on the state’s infrastructure side, we’ll deal with that later,” the anchor retorted.

The teasing resumed toward the end of the segment with the governor boasting he is the more attractive of the two, accusing his sibling, who attempted to dispel the notion, of being jealous.

“Don’t worry there’s still time, there’s hope for you. One day you can grow up to be like me,” the elder Cuomo said, laughing.

Then, the conversation appeared to take a turn.

“I’ve tried to be like you my whole life, look where it got me,” the anchor said, adding, “I love you.”

“You’re better than me,” Andrew said. “I’m proud of you.”

But the heartfelt moment was shattered when Chris remarked that he is only better than his brother “on the basketball court.”

“Never, don’t lie,” the governor said, his eyes growing wide, prompting Chris to say, “That’s what Pop said.”

“He [Pop] said Andrew has tremendous capability, he is blessed in many ways, but he has hands like bananas and he can’t play ball,” the anchor said, talking over his brother. “Everybody knows it.”

The governor didn’t back down.

“Put money on the table and I’ll take you out and spank you,” he said.

By late Monday, the Cuomos were trending on Twitter as numerous viewers delighted in their verbal sparring.

“The Cuomo brothers are like the real housewives of CNN,” one person tweeted. “I LOVE the shade.”

Several people noted that the ribbing couldn’t come at a better time.

Others saw a bright future in entertainment for the Cuomos.

“After the coronavirus thing is over, can we please make @ChrisCuomo & @NYGovCuomo a nightly TV show?” one person tweeted. “The Cuomo Comedy Hour would be like an Italian family reunion rap battle.”