Charlie Rose brings laughs to Al Smith dinner

Charlie Rose was the keynote speaker Wednesday night at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. The annual fundraiser honors the former New York governor and presidential candidate.

"My day and my night are spent asking questions. And I ask a lot of them, none more important this evening than: Why me? I don't have the stature of Churchill, the wit of Kennedy or the comedy of Colbert. But I'm not worried. I'm a Protestant at a Catholic charity event with jokes written by Jewish writers. I'm OK," Rose said in his speech.

The dinner gives public figures a chance to poke fun at each other - and themselves.

"You all know that I began at PBS. I'm in my 24th year there," Rose said. "So here is how it's going to be for all of you tonight: If you laugh five times in the next 10 minutes, you get a tote bag. Ten times? A tote bag and a DVD. Twenty times? Tote bag, a DVD and $5 off at Ken Burns' barber. That's a free haircut."

Smith was one of America's foremost public servants in the early 20th century.

Following his death in 1944, an annual dinner was established as a kind of memorial, raising millions of dollars for Catholic charities.

"I believe that dialogue matters and we learn from each other, and even when we disagree - especially when we disagree - the more we strengthen the values of tolerance, diversity and understanding we'll have a bulwark against the hate and extremism that wreak so much havoc throughout this world," Rose said.

"It's an inspiration that Al Smith inspired throughout his life, a life that stands as a testament to the power of dialogue," he said.

Dozens of politicians and television personalities have been featured speakers. Opposing presidential candidates have most notably shared the stage: Kennedy and Nixon, Carter and Reagan, Bush and Gore, and, most recently, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

"Earlier today, I went shopping at some stores in midtown," Mr. Obama said in 2012. "I understand Gov. Romney went shopping for some stores in midtown."

"I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening because he'll laugh at anything," Romney countered.