Saturday April 27, 2013, was the well anticipated White House Correspondents Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel. This year’s headliner was Conan O’Brien. Conan did a great job, but reading his script from notes on the podium instead of the traditional teleprompter was awkward to say the least.
The president was his usual self and seemed to enjoy the moment he had to unwind and shoot a few zingers in the direction of anyone who would get in the way. The event to say the least was the place to be on a Saturday night if you could get a ticket. Throughout the night several speakers joked about telling Joe Biden that, “there are no extra tickets.”
The event gives the president a chance to poke fun at those who cover him in the news, as well as some of his political foes. In that regard the evening was a success. As in all comedy there must be just enough truth in the joke in order to make it believable. Few comedians can tell the total truth and make it laughable, and the ones that can are separated from those who lack this ability. Bill Cosby made a life long career in using this form of comedy.
Obama has proven that he has the timing and the delivery to put himself in the class of a very few by making truthful statements in a comedic way. His performance lasted about 22 minutes and the audience could have tolerated 22 more.
The most profound statement of the evening by Obama was:
I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. Hello? Think of me as a trial run, you know? See how it goes.
If they won’t come to me, I will come to them. Recently, I had dinner — it’s been well publicized — I had dinner with a number of the Republican senators. And I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. I proposed a toast — it died in committee.
That statement brought laughter from those of the Democratic Party, but as the camera panned the audience you could see that the Republicans were stunned. Newt Gingrich had a look on his face as if he didn’t know whether to get up and leave or to hide under the table.
The second best delivery was when Conan O’Brien said that the conservative justices of the Supreme Court are against same sex unions unless it’s Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. That joke also brought a silence on the audience. As I stated earlier, there must be enough truth to make the joke go over.
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