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. Gary

    I think he's about the funniest thing we've ever had in the White House.

    May 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Peter E

    I'd like to see Stephen Colbert re-invited as keynote speaker. He had an excellent... 'speech' for Bush Jr. a couple of years ago, I think it's only fair to treat Obama to the same expose.

    May 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Citizen of America

    Obama will be the one who pulls us out of the Republican created 9% unemployment.

    Lets get our money out of 14 unnecessary Military bases in countries like the UK and put it into rebuilding our own home. If thewy want protection, they can pay us for it.

    Time to take care of our people at home.

    May 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Proud American

    Wow, just look at my stupid Republican friends. Just say the name Obama and they go nuts.

    May 9, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Kimberly

    Obama is an AWESOME president, and he is a funny guy at times...I think Michelle would be good to talk, she is always funny too. I love her, and am SO proud of them both, and I know he will do great tonight and make this country and others respect him even more than they already do. How blessed we are to have such a great family in the white house! AWESOME!!!

    May 9, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Dave

    Carolyn, your head is not going to explode if you ween yourself off the DNC/MSNBC/ talking point and actually think for yourself.

    Doesn't it bother you that you are conditioned to get hateful, angry, and mean when someone simply tells you the truth?

    You can keep on hating us as long as you want, but when we decide that we don't want you libs to steal our money any longer, what will you libs do then?

    May 9, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Jon

    Again, can we focus on news? Or are we to continue with the bread and circuses? And many of you have an unatural hatred of him, while others are using hero worship. There are so many problems now and we focus on this? Our biggest problem is a completely ignorant citizen base. Reading the comments proves it.

    May 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. SQZ

    Actually, all prior comments considered, nothing about this horrific president and his team is or can be funny.

    May 9, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Jean in Georgia

    Mike, did all of our problems begin in January, 2009? I THINK NOT!

    May 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Vijay

    It is inaccurate reporting to say that Obama compared his bowling to the Special Olympics. He was reacting to the mock cheering that Jay Leno initiated (and the audience added to) upon hearing of his 129 score. Obama reacted spontaneously to the showering of mock applause, saying it felt like the Special Olympics. That was unfortunate of course, but not as bad as if he had somehow spontaneously compared his bowling to the Special Olympics. That would have been downright pernicious coming from a POTUS. It should simply be not be reported that he did so, because that's not what happened. Please correct your story!

    May 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. Jarvis Lennon

    Finally a wonderful president that can lead this nation. That alone is enough to be happy about. I love the guy. He was left a terrible mess by I am confident he can clean it up.

    May 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Greig

    It's amazing how you people naively act like the problems this country is facing mysteriously started just 3 months ago. NO PEOPLE! GW Bush started this mess, so quit with the selective memory and amnesia. No one with any sense thought Obama would fix Bush's mess in just 3 months. Now, a year from now, if we're still in this predicament, B.O will have earned half of the blame. But now yet! This is still Bush's mess!

    May 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Military

    September 11th happened on (REPUBLICAN!) George W. Bush's watch. Go read the 911 commissions official report, I didn't need to... I work for the government. I know the former President was given a security briefing on Aug 4th 2001; It said this "Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are planning an attack in NYC involving airplanes." How much more info do you need?

    And nothing AT all was done. I don't believe it was an inside job, I don't think the man even read the briefing memo. The funny thing is that all you moron Republicans say the same exact cut and paste answer "If was probably one memo that wasn't that important and one of many that morning." IT WAS THE DAILY INTEL BRIEFING!!!!

    All you hating, cynical Republicans should really take a step back from the hate you feel for the Democrats, because it's us that saves your ass every time you screw the country up.

    And by the way, I wanted to see President Bush succeed and do well. If he did well, we all did well. Thats the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. We are patriots no matter what party is in power. At the very least reserve your judgements of President Obama until you have reason to warrant your childish, petty behavior... Like we did, when President Bush began torturing people and getting troops killed for no reason... Did you see us on Sept 12 waving pitchforks and crying bloody murder that this man got the country attacked with his eneptness? Nope, we stood behind him and his leadership... Look what happened. We had ever right to complain, we had Nixon back in the White House. You have no right to complain, we are fixing the problems that you created.

    May 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. radwan

    republicans please go to hell where you belong. take bushi ,cheney and all your tortureres.i respect osama bin laden better than and your cronies created bin laden therefore you are responsible for 9/11.bush took from the poor to give to the rich and your majority back then in congress is time we took over this country to punish all those rich individuals that stole to become rich

    May 9, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. D. D.

    We ,the common people of America, would like to be invited regardless whether our President tells a joke or just tells a story.
    There are some other people we would like to see such as: Soledad, John Roberts, Kyra Phillips, John Hardwood, Wolf Bliltzer, Carville, Donna Brazille, John King, David Axlewood, Joe Scrabrough, Mike Barnacle, Valerie Jarrett, Robert Gibbs, Maria Shiver, Secretary Hillary Cinton, Secretary Eric Holder, Harold Ford, Senator Sherrod Brown, Chuck Todd, Ann Mitchell, Keith Olbermann,Chris Matthews, Colin Powell, Pat Buchanon, and Major Garett.
    Smile for the camras- we, the common folks are watching and happy for you all. Be Blessed.

    May 9, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Patrick

    You people who are hurting and complaining about the government not saving you deserve to be where you're at. You might have been dealt an unfair hand but whining about B.O. isn't going to fix it. Take some personal action and do what's necessary to get by. Not enough money? Get a second job. I've done it. I've worked three in a day MANY times. I voted for Barack, but I don't expect him to fix all of my problems, nor do I want him to. The government isn't responsible for your situation: you are. Life isn't fair, and all the entitlement programs in the world won't make that cold fact go away. I know there are people hurting out there, but with such a decline in our social and cultural value system, maybe that's a good thing in the long run. Stop whining and do some work!

    May 9, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  17. karl

    he already IS a funnyman. have you seen his budget? as long as the teleprompter doesn't malfunction, he'll be just fine.

    May 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Ken in NC

    It's funny how many of you speak of President Obama using a teleprompter when so many other presidents used them. It's even funnier how George Bush didn't use one when he, more than any president since George Washington needed one.

    We have a President now that communicates with us openly. He is a President we can laugh with unlike the last President we are still laughing at. I have no problem with him using the teleprompter but to all of you that have a problem with it please tell me where the teleprompter was when he so soundly defeated Senator McCain in the Presidential debates.

    May 9, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Paul from Ky

    I love what Obama is about. We are so fortunate to have such a quality guy leading our nation. Little is made of his ten years teaching constitutional law classes, undoubtly, without a telepromter.

    I'm excited to see someone take a position on the looting of bank customers, stem cell, separation of church and state, pro-choice, balancing the supreme court, eliminating tax havens for tax avoiders, reaching out to leaders of other countries with compassion and understanding that we're all in this together.

    There must be a God – many of my prayers have been answered with many more on the way. I think the republicans deserve most of the credit for our blessing.s There incompetence has eased the path for most of this to occur. Please keep your negativity going it is lighting the path for evolution to take its natural course.

    May you continue to blast away while we reap from what you sow. Thank you! – Thank you! Thank you !

    I may become religious if this continues although it seems the power of the religious rigtht is creating most of this mess – right now I like the way it is going -go figure!

    May 9, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Rose

    All he has to do is just stand there, he is one big joke all by himself

    May 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. Jonathan Wolf

    If it isn't enough that I have to listen to ignorant hillbillies making fun of Barack Obama, I now have to listen to grown-ups doing the same thing.

    Kind of makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.

    Jonathan Wolf
    Pulaski, Tennessee

    May 9, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Mac

    You know, just reading any of these blogs just make me sick. ALL of you are haters. One side isn't any better than the other. One side says hateful remarks about the President and the other side says hateful remarks about the first side. EVERYBODY grow up.


    May 9, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Democrat AGAINST Obama

    I did not support Obama in the primary and reluctantly voted for him in the general election and I still find if DISGUSTING that republicans are blasting him for unemployment rates, teleprompters and the national deficit. Where the hell was their outrage when Bush fumbled to create jobs, coherent sentences and national surpluses. On his worst day Obama is still twice the president, and man, that BUSH could ever be. I hereby request that every republican shut his mouth until he or she come up with a better plan than Obama is implementing. Its really easy to judge from the comfort of your lazy boy in your mobile home.

    May 9, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Sam I Am

    Best of luck to him. He's doing a very hard job, and it's good to see he can keep his sense of humor.

    I'm dumbfounded at the comments on this blog about unemployment and "lack of progress" somehow being the Democrat's fault. George and his buddies had the helm of the country for 8 years. Their policies and stupidity got us where we are now. Obama has been in office 120 days. Fixing these problems is not like balancing your home checkbook. What is the matter with you people?!?!?! Do you really think he can turn around this economic catastrophe in 3 months? And the best thing you can do is snivel, and attend an RNC-funded event called a "tea party", that was an obvious event for every nut case to make a mispelled sign and stand in front of TV cameras, spouting hate and stupidity. That's the best you can do?!?!?! Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Stop sniveling. Do something. Sniveling is what the Republican Party is doing right now. What is it getting them? The total disrespect of the American people. 21% and falling. Any clue why that might be?

    You want to leave the country? Can I help you pack?

    May 9, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. Tom

    Nothing funny in the incompetence of this Administration and the media fawning over him is just disgusting. We need real investigative reporting before he destroys America and we look back and say how did that happen in this country with all of the Freedoms that we have.

    How can the media and public buy anything these clowns try and sell?
    Its like Shaggy's song "Say it wasn't You"

    1. I never knew that Jeramiah Wright was so divisive
    2. I never knew that Bill Ayers was radical and besides that stuff happened when I was a kid.
    3. Tony Redzko was just an associate, nothing to see there.
    4. Close Gitmo because I said so.
    5. We will do everything in our power to protect the American people from a repeat of 911 except, We won't do that...
    6. I will appologize to Europe for American Arrogance even though Europe would not exist today if it were not for American sacrifice.
    7. What Bow to the Saudi King? That was a handshake don't believe your lying eyes.
    8. I will appologize to Latin America for American dominance, even though it is false to suggest that America has dominated Latin America at any point in its history.
    9. I bowl like a Special Olympics champ but I will beat them suckers at b-ball everytime.
    10. AIG paying bonuses with the bail out funds, I am outraged, outraged even though I signed a bill that authorized it.
    11. You can't listen to Rush Limbaugh, he doesn't agree with the Radical Liberal Progressive and socialist policy that I am going to implement because I won.
    12 Did I mention I won and its gonna be my way, but hey about that bi-partisanship, I am trying my best to be bi-partisan you just need to agree with me because like I told you I won and you lost so get over it.
    13. Has anyone seen the keys to AF1? Maybe my cabinet members should communicate amongst each other before something real serious happens, oh it don't matter the public will forgive me because they LOVE OBAMA....

    May 9, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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