By Dave Wieczorek
City & Shore Magazine
One might say Mo Rocca was blessed with multiple personalities, and if you haven’t met one of them over the past few years you haven’t been watching television or going to the movies or Broadway or listening to the radio or following him on Twitter.
Maurice “Mo” Rocca is everywhere you look and listen.
“Clearly I need to focus on what the hell I’m doing. I have professional A.D.D.,” Rocca jokes.
The humorist, journalist and actor, best known for his off-beat news reports and satirical commentary, is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, host of the CBS series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, host of My Grandmother’s Ravioli on the Cooking Channel, a panelist on the NPR news quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, and he was a longtime correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
An audience of about 500 had the opportunity to hear from the Emmy winner’s many voices in one setting during “A Conversation With Mo Rocca: From the Constitution to the Kitchen” Jan. 13 as part of the 2015-16 Broward College Speaker Series, presented by Hoffman’s Chocolates. The event, co-sponsored by City & Shore Magazine, was presented at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
Rocca, who turns 47 later this month, laughs when he says he is “someone in search” of a singular professional identity. But then he turns serious to explain: “I’m a guy who likes to report and tell stories, and to participate in a way that doesn’t actually step all over the story.”
He wears more hats than a Dr. Seuss character and frame glasses as if to accessorize his quirky characterization of culture. This is a man who revels in the fact that Liesl Von Trapp (Charmian Carr) follows him on Twitter, who is a presidential buff with a memorabilia collection that includes Ike and Mamie Eisenhower iced-tea glasses, who “peeled back the layers on America’s most popular fruit,” the Cavendish banana, on CBS Sunday Morning, and an openly gay man, the son of a Colombian mother, who delivered a Bible reading – in Spanish – at a Mass in New York City during Pope Francis’ visit in September.
It was on The Daily Show where Rocca honed his off-brand satirical commentary and entertaining wit.
“I spent years making fun of the things that make some ‘serious’ reporters laughable,” he says. “If I ever lapse and start unctuously nodding in sympathy with an interview subject, that interview subject is invited to punch me in the face.”
His popularity is at an all-time high thanks to a more quaint show, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, where America learns about recipes passed down from generation to generation. When it comes to his own culinary skills though, well, they seem to have skipped a generation.
“I don’t cook at home,” he says. “I can’t be anything more than truthful. The boring reason is that I’ve been working so much. But think – Bart Simpson was 10 years old for 20 years. It’s like I’m at the same level of noncooking.”
Tickets for the Broward College Speaker Series, presented by Hoffman’s Chocolates at the Amaturo Theater, are available through the AutoNation Box Office at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 954-462-0222, or visit BrowardCollegeSpeakerSeries.com. The next speaker will be former University of Oklahoma quarterback and Congressman J.C. Watts on March 23; and James Carville, political strategist and TV political commentator, will be the final guest in this year’s series on April 6.