May 9th, 2009
03:05 PM ET
5 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. Lamar in Dallas, TX

    Obama Rocks!

    Of course he will be funny!

    And you hate mongers who keep dissing our president, you need to watch a little less Fox News!

    You Rock, Barack!

    May 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    To Richard A. Spomer, of Alexandria, VA

    What century are you living in? Your comments are stereotypical and hateful, and very outdated.. Even Marc Levin and Rush Limbaugh have updated their arguments beyond this message. President Barrack Hussein Obama... Feel how the words just roll off the tip of the tongue.

    May 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. jack debrot, new york, new york

    some of the comments got it exactly right . . . teleprompter!

    May 9, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Melvin A. Roach

    To Richard A. Spomer, of Alexandria, VA

    What century are you living in? Your comments are stereotypical and hateful, and very outdated.. Even Marc Levin and Rush Limbaugh have updated their arguments beyond this message. President Barrack Hussein Obama... Feel how the words just roll off the tip of the tongue.

    May 9, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Art Michaelson

    TCM: Your anti-Obama brain is warped.. Do you recall your HERO George BUSH looking under the desk and behind the curtin to find WEPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION while 4500 GIs were geting killed and 1500 lost limbs, arms, eyesight and brain damage? HA, Ha that was a real funney act. Come on get a life you bigot

    May 9, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. joshua

    So I guess he used a teleprompter when he soundly defeated McCain at every single debate huh? lol Honestly I think Republicans get more delusional by the minute. lol

    May 9, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Ted

    somthing else. when the quip about the special olympics is written, it is capitalized. When the quip was spoken, was it capitalized in the way Obama spoke? I think Special Olympics is great. But consider a moment how he said it. It was the media that jumped on it and made it more than it was. Stupid media.

    May 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Carolyn McLuskie

    I simply must comment on "Texas voter's" comment: "For the first time I am not proud of my country." So Texas voter is proud of a president who tortured innocent people, proud of a president who lied to get us into a war with the country that DIDN'T cause 9/11, proud of a president who did nothing while thousands of innocent people drowned in New Orleans, proud of a president who gave tax cuts to the rich and billion-dollar contracts to his military contractor friends, proud of a president who created the largest debt in history, and NOW he's not proud of his country. I've got some advice, Texas voter: Move to Saudi Arabia. That's where traitors like you belong. You don't deserve to be an America citizen. Those of us who are TRUE patriots will work side by side with our president to help rebuild our country and repair the almost irreparable damage that George Bush has caused to citizens here at home and to our reputation in the world. Bye-bye, Texas voter. You're going to LOVE Saudi Arabia - they have EXACTLY the same beliefs that you do - you'll feel right at home. Meanwhile, we're going to enjoy seeing a REAL president lead us back into the light, and yes, we will laugh again with joy to see the return of democracy to the U.S.A.

    May 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Bill and Linda Boehm

    It will be a nice change to have a president we can laugh with,instead of at.....

    May 9, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Kate (another voter in Texas!)

    I find it so ironic that all of these anti-Obama posts focus on his supposed dependence on the teleprompter, despite the fact that he has been cogent and fluid in countless unscripted debates and news conferences. Say what you want about his policies, but the man is NOT dependent on a teleprompter for eloquence. Or are we nostalgic for Bush and observations like "too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country"?

    May 9, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. Johnny DC

    Agree with all the other comments - he could simply unplug the prompter, or talk about his $18B in cuts for his $500 trillion budget, and how every little bit counts.

    May 9, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    anyone who makes a joke at obama is a racis!

    May 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. Texas Teacher

    Barack Obama has a sense of humor... .and that my friends is killing his opposition because THEY are the JOKE!

    I love that our President has a sense of humor... unlike Cheney, he does not think he is the President of the World!

    May 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. mary smithy

    Obama is ONE BIG JOKE!!!
    Only none of us are laughing....just really really hurting.

    May 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. Texas Teacher

    80% of cannot be wrong!!! *LOL*

    May 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. flybyshoeing

    nothing-else... May 9th, 2009 2:49 pm ET

    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..????

    Nothing-else is a good name for you because you having nothing else but hate. All this started on your boys watch. What did he do about it other than hide in the WH. He didn't even have the guts to talk to his country after the banking crash until he was forced 3 days later and then only spoke for 2 minutes. Stop with the BS

    May 9, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. dan in dc

    just to ask Texas voter a question who seems to think the president should NOT attend the dinner tonight - how long have these dinners been going on and how often have presidents missed them. Also TX voter did you complain when GW seemed to spends weeks clearing brush down your way?

    May 9, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. mike

    Obama, Democrats and 9% unemployment. Funny?
    I think not.

    May 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. annie for Palin

    obama is not really a comedian, however, he is a BIG JOKE and there is nothing about him or his intent desire to destroy our country that is funny.

    May 9, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Lori

    Love you Ted!

    Let's hope those haters follow your guidelines and solve their mental problems!

    May 9, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. MEstudent

    Why do articles like this, intended to inform and mildly amuse, become platforms for political criticism. Read this article and take it for what its worth: O'Bama is participating in a tradition that often encourages light hearted self mockery. Bush did the same thing as did all his predecessors since 1920. Is this grounds for indicting O'Bama? No. Is it a place to sing his praise? Not unless you really like his jokes tomorrow. Readers, please put political perspective aside when reading the news. Don't take simple articles and force personal perspective into your reading of them. If you don't agree with a certain political decision, feel free to offer criticism, but the notion that this article could somehow be an indictment or promotion for O'Bama is absurd.

    May 9, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. CM

    He's a man of the people.

    May 9, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. mike

    The last four months have been a joke.

    May 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. eric

    For everyone that keeps talking about the teleprompter thing .....
    First .... ALL presidents use teleprompter ... get used to it. He's no different than other president ... except he does it BETTER.

    Second ..... the only reason this is a issue is because the FOX news media created this thing about the teleprompter. Have you ever heard bush talk without a teleprompter? It's a complete joke. It's not even grammatically correct. Plz .... spare me the insults.

    Why don't people just accept the fact that this guy is truly talented. You know, like he can make speeches, write book(s), and a great leader.
    None of which Bush can do. Do you really think Bush can write a book without "coauthoring" it? Give me a break.

    You don't have to like his policies or his ideas, but to criticize him for not being intelligent is just wrong. Not even the GOP have ever accused him of being "not intelligent" ..... well Bush ... that's another story.

    May 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. Tris Stewart

    When are you sore losers going to get over the fact that Obama beat McCain? I've never seen a bigger bunch of whiners and complainers than those of you that put yourselves ahead of our country. Get over it – you lost. If you think we got a lemon, make lemonade, and enjoy the ride.

    May 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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