May 9th, 2009
03:05 PM ET
9 years ago

Barack Obama: President and Comedian?

President Obama will speak at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday.

President Obama will speak at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's one of the biggest nights in the nation's capital - DC's version of the Academy Awards.

I'm talking about the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, a tradition that dates back to the 1920's. It's also a tradition that the president attends the dinner and makes jokes, often at his own expense.

With a new and popular president now in the White House, there's more attention than usual on tonight's dinner.

One big question: Will Barack Obama be funny? We don't often see the comedic side of this president.

We got a taste, or a preview, last October, when then-presidential candidate Obama teamed up with his rival, Sen. John McCain, at the annual Al Smith charity dinner in New York City.

"Who is Barack Obama?" said the then-senator from Illinois. "Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor El to save the planet Earth."

Obama also made fun of his middle name, Hussein, saying "I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for President."

But an unscripted attempt at humor put President Obama in some hot water.

In March, Obama went on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," becoming the first sitting president to be a guest on the late night talk shows.

Obama, making fun of his skills as a bowler, said "I bowled a 129."

He went on to make a comparison to his bowling, saying "It's like, it was like Special Olympics, or something."

Those comments created a minor controversy at the time, and the president called the head of the Special Olympics to apologize.

But unlike those off-the-cuff comments, tonight's speech by Obama will be scripted.

Will it be funny? We'll find out later tonight.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Linda

    I love this man. He has it all!

    May 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Lori

    What is actually funny is the fact that there are only 21% of Republicans left in America!!! Or what's also funny is the Republican budget that they proposed a few months ago. Or how ridiculous they looked at those Tea Parties a few weeks ago. Or that they actually feel as if they will actually have a 'comeback'. Hey guys, so much for the 59 million that voted for McCain a few months ago, huh? Lol. President Obama has plenty of material with the GOP around.

    May 9, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Chris in MI

    This dinner is always hillarious. And this president has a great sense of humor especially when he makes fun of himself. Gee, can't imagine why Sarah Palin chose not to attend. Can't take a little ribbing..hmmm?

    May 9, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Otto

    I'd like him to make a big boo boo or something of the magnitude that reminds people that he is only human.

    There can be no fun if he does not screw up and at least make mistakes. On the other hand, there will be many opposing his views and seek to place his every word under a microscope.

    Hey, Mr. Potus, be yourself even if you make a big blunder; most people will understand you are only human.

    May 9, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. J. Richter

    As long as he continues to fix the economy and my 401K stays on track for recovery and health care becomes more available and less costly for scant coverage. So far so good given the total crash preceding him and he's been definitely hard-working and hands on. What was the issue again? Yes comedy.

    May 9, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. RRR

    If he IS funny, GOP'ers will say he is ignoring the country's problems. If he is NOT funny, GOP'ers will say he is ignoring the country's problems

    I suggest a dialogue involving the used snowmobile salesman now artic diplomat who will be at the dinner because his wife won't send an actual elected official since she alienated them all. I think Barack can get quite afew jokes out of THAT!

    May 9, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. FAYE, NV

    He will be funny, the president does have a sense of humor. I understood the one he made aoubt the Special Olympic. It was not made to make fun of people but one would understand it, if one of the Special Olympican bowl a 129 score.

    May 9, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. mjm

    I know his budget was a joke. Not laughing.

    May 9, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Mel of Alexandria

    He will be funny as long as he does not scare us by joking about becoming a republican.

    May 9, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. ib

    Far left wingnut that is destroying this country ( no common sense) not comedian is what this guy is.

    May 9, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. elliott


    May 9, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. The Teester

    He Will Rock.

    May 9, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    All Obama has to say to tell a good joke is what he wants to do.

    May 9, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Ray Fisher

    I only hope the media isn't too critical of his attempts at humor, as the President needs to lighten up occasionally, the media needs to overlook their profit mongering over every syllable for another ad revenue opportunity and simply allow our President a little slack. It's a far cry from the days of an "honorable press" which overlooked a President in a wheelchair for the good of our nation to a "tabloid press" of today berating our President for a harmless self-deprecating comment over his low bowling score!!! If the media is so hard pressed for revenues they should air better programming instead of news reruns constantly!!!

    May 9, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. virginia nielsen

    He's very funny !!! Intelligent happy guy !!! I love him and I'm very,very proud having him leading my AMERICA !!!

    May 9, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Donnygull

    What did secessionist Tod ( First Dud) have to add? What no mention of the Wasilla Hillbillies?

    May 9, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Leslie

    He's not presidential nor is he a comedian. There's nothing special about the guy, except he's articulate with telemprompter. He have earned his PHD on how to use teleprompter properly. But he's progressing now, he has move towards using wide screen TV to read his speech, isn't that great?

    May 9, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. moses

    Yes he does have sense of humor but does he always have to use a telepromter. It comes across as his weakness, a crunch. That does not come across as good for america. Why would he be afraid to talk without it?

    May 9, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. nothing-else...

    nothing else really going for bo so he must turn COMEDIAN to cover
    up th lack of progress on: jobs. banking and so on; everthing is getting worse no better and no joking and will make it so..????

    May 9, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Larry

    Obama won't have to be funny

    The biggest joke all night will be Todd Palin sitting in for Sarah

    Her being there would have been laughable in itself ... but Todd

    Republicans ... LOL ... The Party Of No ... solutions

    May 9, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Jonas Eriksson

    Intelligence is the key to great humor. Of course the night will be a success.

    May 9, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. barking republican ankle biters

    At least hes funnier than all the republicans put together.They have a sick sense of humor,like kids torturing animals and things.

    May 9, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. elathia

    I would say 100% comedian.

    May 9, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Had It

    CNN tried to make a big deal of it, otherwise, it would have gone unspoken.

    CNN = e-gossip.

    May 9, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. and the answer is.....

    He will be funny only if the almighty teleprompter allows him to be...

    May 9, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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