As an annual event since 1924, The White House Correspondents' Dinner gives the sitting president a chance to show a sense of humor. Barack Obama’s entered his fifth dinner to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” and took it from there.
“How do you like my new entrance music? Rush Limbaugh warned you about this: Second term, baby.”
Obama was the opening act for Conan host and short-lived Tonight Show steward Conan O’Brien. The comedian was more biting that his usual late-night persona. In lieu of goofy set pieces and fake dances, O’Brien elicited groans by comparing Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to a gay couple about to get married and said those going to the recently dedicated George W. Bush Library and Museum would be the first to look at the former president’s important briefing documents.
Overall, Obama was a solid success at the dinner -- hashtagged #nerdprom after its nickname among the political set -- as he ran through jokes that spanned topics from his wife’s hair to a controversial Camp David skeet shooting photo; he even called in Steven Spieberg to do a taped piece on a possible Obama film. Trodding familiar territory, he delivered punchlines like “I’m not the strapping young Muslim Socialist I used to be.” Like Obama, O’Brien commented on the president’s rapid aging, saying, “Your hair is so white, it could be a member of your Cabinet,” which elicited more groans.
While the sequester only got a passing mention in the speeches, Obama’s Cabinet was referenced repeatedly. After the Kamala Harris incident earlier in April, O’Brien made reference to his attraction to “stone cold fox Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood,” as the C-SPAN cameras cut to LaHood. Obama also joked about the incident saying “Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?”
O’Brien ended his jokes in classic fashion, using the conceit of casting a movie about Obama to show dopplegangers of some in attendance. (Mr. Bean as Paul Ryan was a particular crowd pleaser.) But he saved his best work for backhandedly complimenting the president. In referencing the quote that Obama is usually ”coolest guy in the room,” O’Brien took umbrage, asking “Who else is in that room?”
“It’s not hard to be the cool guy when the other guys are Biden, Hagel and Kerry. I’d be cool, too, if I was stuck in a room where Tom Vilsack is showing Stephen Chu how to do the Harlem Shake.”
Watch highlights from Obama's monologue:
Watch highlights from O'Brien's monologue: