If this whole hopey-changey thing doesn’t work out for him, at least President Obama can feel comfort in knowing that he has a future in stand-up comedy. At the the White House Correspondents Association Dinner last night, the President nailed just about every joke with the comedic timing of a seasoned stand-up veteran.
On the other hand, the supposed “real” comedic act of the night, Jay Leno, rambled off bland one-liner after bland one-liner from his notecards for twenty minutes – that old, predictable, safe mother-in-law humor. Granted, for the rest of eternity, it will be difficult for anyone to live up to Stephen Colbert’s ballsy and ironic roast of President Bush in 2006 (such a brilliant, oh-no-he-didn’t roast filled with all of those delicious moments of uncomfortable silence), but you would think Leno could have been at least a little less restrained and little more, well, funny. Where’s Conan O’Brien when the President needs him?
While all the fifteen minutes of the President’s routine are worth watching, here are a few of my favorite jokes that he nailed.
I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight – great to see you, Jay. I’m also glad that I’m speaking first, because we’ve all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno’s.
I work a lot. And so I wasn’t sure that I should actually come tonight. Biden talked me into it. He leaned over and he said, “Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner. This is a big [beep] meal.”
Now, look, obviously I’ve learned this year politics can be a tough business, but there are times where you just can’t help but laugh. You know what really tickles me? Eric Massa. Apparently Massa claimed that Rahm came up to him one day in the House locker room, stark naked, started screaming obscenities at him – to which I say, welcome to my world. I feel you. It’s a tense moment.
He finished it all off by taking a moment to drop the comedy act in order to say some insightful remarks on the importance of a free press:
Earlier today I gave the commencement address at Michigan, where I spoke to the graduates about what is required to keep out democracy thriving in the 21st century. And one of the points I made is that for all the changes and challenges facing your industry, this country absolutely needs a healthy, vibrant media. ‘Probably needs it more than ever now.
Today’s technology has made it possible for us to get our news and information from a growing range of sources. We can pick and choose not only our preferred type of media, but also our preferred perspective. And while that exposes us to an unprecedented array of opinions, analysis, and points of view, it also makes it that much more important that we’re all operating on a common baseline of facts. It makes it that much more important that journalists out there seek only the truth.
And I don’t have to tell you that. Some of you are seasoned veterans who have been on the political beat for decades; others here tonight began their careers as bloggers not long ago. But I think it’s fair to say that every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism. Every one of you, even the most cynical among you, understands and cherishes the function of a free press and the preservation of our system of government and of our way of life.
Well put, Mr. President.