We’ve long been skeptical of the crowds that gather on the sidewalk during the morning shows. Surely those relentlessly cheerful people are paid to be there at that ungodly hour, right? Wrong.

But NBC’s “Today” show set up shop at Faneuil Hall Marketplace Friday, and there they were, holding signs and smiling madly, as hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie did their thing.

Guests included Cambridge-bred actress and writer Mindy Kaling, who took one look at the crowd and wondered if they were drunk; celebrated chef Michael Schlow; the Dropkick Murphys; and, of course, Mayor Tom Menino, who had a somewhat bewildering answer when asked what makes Boston a special place.


“Well, we’re a young city,’’ said Hizzoner, the longest-serving mayor in Boston’s 382-year history. (Yes, compared to Beijing, Boston is young. We suspect he meant demographically.)

Actress and “Today” guest Mindy Kaling greeted early-rising onlookers.
Actress and “Today” guest Mindy Kaling greeted early-rising onlookers.Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

“Excitement happens in this city every day,’’ said Menino, who looked and sounded recovered from his extended stay at Brigham and Women’s and Spaulding Rehabilitation hospitals. “It’s not a boring city. Things are happening.’’

Lauer applauded the Hub for its response to last weekend’s blizzicane — a storm, he said, that “hammahd’’ the city, mimicking a Boston accent.

“You guys handled it very well,’’ Lauer said.

“Well, thank you very much,’’ replied Menino. “We did a fairly good job. We had some issues. But I think overall it was an A-plus job.’’

Wait, didn’t the mayor apologize a few days ago for the slow pace of the clean-up? He clarified his comment later in the day, saying “I just commend the effort of the entire city. The crews were working all weekend. But also the residents. The residents deserve a lot of credit for showing patience and pitching in to dig out their elderly neighbors and looking after those in need.”


Schlow, whose restaurants include Via Matta, Radius, Tico, and The Sinclair in Harvard Square, whipped up New England shellfish stew, red flannel hash, Boston crème cupcakes, and he cracked a couple of local beers – Clown Shoes and Whale Tale.

“What was flattering was that after the show, [Lauer and Guthrie] came over and finished their bowls of stew,” Schlow said. “Something like this is good for the city.”