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. Teebee

    The anti-Obama folks posting here are lemmings of Limbaugh, Coulter and Hasselbeck, and completely ignorant of what their own party USED to mean before the yahoos flocked to it and destroyed the party after passage of Civil Rights Act in 1965 (Lott, Specter, Duke, etc.)

    It's so sad, but the good news is they are now easy to identify and step away from. Look @ them, laugh, then let them play w/each other, don't waste your time going back and forth with them. Smile while laughing because their misery shows with every post. What more revenge is needed. :) All that is left is for their heads to explode like Scanners movie. :-p

    They'll then start turning on each other because they are miserable & can never be happy. These folks who have the luxury to sit and obsess about Obama are CLEARLY doing well – all their priorities are in order (house, car, food, health, etc.).

    Meanwhile there are kids in hospitals wishing they could just have a basic day but can't, or only have a limited time on earth. And if they could have just one basic kid day, they wouldn't waste their time spreading hate about someone the head of the lemmings provided info about. The Limbaugh lemmings ARE afraid. They don't know what to think or how to act unless told, so they dress the same, talk the same and follow leads of others because they are so afraid of not fitting in with other crap.

    So fugedaboutem! Let them follow their leader off a cliff while the rest of us just move on with our lives which involve humanity and a society which cares about god's most precious assets: people. :) Ironic given the titles consistently used next to their name are "conserve" and "christian" huh?

    May 9, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Ivan

    I'm so weary of the pinhead, narrow minded, prejudiced, whiny, hostile, ignorant, barely literate, stupefying, loathesome, degenerate, ultra fundamentalist and hypocritical repugnicans. Other than that, they are quite intolerable.

    May 9, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Lemon

    Have all the Obama-haters on this post forgotten that this man has been president for just over 3 months? It was YOUR administration's policies that got us into this mess.

    May 9, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. Andrew

    if you really believe that the economy faring worse than it would have under McCain, then you are truly oblivious to reality. The majority of economists think the stimulus wasn't big enough, yet the Republicans in Congress have offered nothing but obstruction and old failed ideas, like tax cuts for rich people.

    May 9, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. JT from TN

    You can't be serious all the time, take the dinner for what it is. The media criticizes Obama everyday and their gonna get upset about one night of fun. What gives?

    May 9, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. James

    Mike, Flybyshoeing and Mary Smithy: Re-educate yourselves. Not even 4 months into his presidency and you think he should have it all fixed. Some advice: pull out your Econ101 book, or go buy one if necessary, and READ. There is no way this could have turned by now. You are choosing to be negative. Situations like we are in are not created overnight, nor are they fixed overnight – not even in 100 nights. This is not just a Barack Obama problem. Congress needs to get it together, too. John McCain would not have had the economy turned around by now either. However, I venture to guess that if he were in office you'd be saying "It takes time" and defending him. Party loyalism is not going to fix the problem. Join the conversation, don't just complain on the CNN sidelines.

    Enjoy the fact that tonight is about tradition..GWB and his Dad did it, too. GW was actually funny at some of his!

    May 9, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. Are you kidding me?

    Republicans – you're pathetic! We finally have an articulate, intelligent and thoughtful president after eight years of citizens of this country and other countries around the world laughing AT Bush and you have the nerve to make negative comments. Shut up!

    May 9, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Last laugh

    Yeah! Finally a President who I can laugh with and not AT. Also, he's not bad to look at either.

    May 9, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Pragmatic

    Looks like the anti-President Obama cadre is in good spirits tonight.

    Guess they didn't mind former (what a blessed word) president Bush looking under the tables for the WMDs ... which a lot of us didn't think was very funny.

    These 20%ers are mad because no one is paying them the slightest attention to the endless babbling. Nothing President Obama has done, is doing or will do will make them happy... enjoy a long, long 8 years ye unhappy few.

    May 9, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  10. mike

    I dont care if hes funny. How much does the Dinner cost and whos. paying for it. enough is enough. Bush put us in the mess were in and If you think obama can fix it. I would like to know the what planet you live on. the fact is no one can fix this buy throing money at the problem.. So stop spending my taxes to bailout every one who comes crying.. I voted for the Obama and i have not seen any help to the problem. So i will now be both ill cry like the GOP and not pay my taxes like the DOC. To hell with all of them.

    May 9, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. DrMan

    I'm wondering a what point libs will stop blaming Bush for everything. He's gone people. You've got the House, the Senate and the Presidency. If the economy is still in the state it's in November of 2010, you'll have no one, I repeat NO ONE to blame but yourselves. Thankfully the one good thing that might come out of this is people will hopefully come to their senses and get rid of this do nothing Congress.

    May 9, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    All these hateful comments really get us no where. People need laughter, people need to smile. If all you have to contribute is hate, judgement, and rude comments, then nothing in any of our lives will improve.

    Our President has a real sense of the big picture and where he fits into it. I appreciate his humor and his understanding and I, for one, am excited to hear what he will say.

    May 9, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. mimi

    I don't like Obama.
    You can make me like him>.
    In the next four years, we all see if he did well>

    May 9, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Rob

    I don’t understand liberals they don’t have moral problems with letting child molesters out of jail, or a democrat from CA profiting form government contracts, or letting underage girls have abortions; however, but poor some water on a terrorist face or put a caterpillar in his cell and they suddenly have all the morals in the world. Loose the politics, you don’t have any moral to hold on to unless they are politically motivated.

    May 9, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. Caine 607

    I could care less how funny Obama is. Obama needs to focus on what he needs to focus on and stop parading around the talk show circuit like a celebrity. North Korea just test fired an ICBM warhead, and Iran is looking to enrich uranium. Those are problems that need attention right now, not Obama's love affair with the spotlight.

    May 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. Eli

    In which one of the 58 states will he be doing stand-up?

    May 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. Dan

    9% unemployment? Seriously, you think that was created because of this year? You can thank the past 8 yrs for that. Please do some reading before posting comments like that...

    May 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Keith in Austin

    I prefer Nipsy Russell.

    May 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. Dru, Michigan

    The majority of the comments made below this article constitute the reason that President Obama will find it difficult to deliver any humorous material.

    Bi-partisan extremists on both the left and right will use every syllable he utters into a microphone as evidence for or against both his effectiveness in office and his character in their embittered and pseudo-intellectual political slap-fights.

    This, of course, is ridiculous in its own right. Many of the liberal/conservative bickering already taking place within the comments here are only the precursor to the oncoming media storm. Inevitably, something that the President says this evening will be misconstrued by leftists or rightists, and this intentional distortion of innocent humor will be propagated by most major media outlets.

    This is the real country we have sunk to becoming. The one in which we judge a man's economic policies, his attitude toward war and intercontinental conflict, and his domestic policies based on the jokes he tells at a dinner party.

    Until we "lighten up" as a nation, we won't see even the faintest glimpse of the true Barack Obama. He's going to have to stick to knock-knock jokes if he wants to leave the dinner with his public approval unscathed.

    May 9, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. jimmy

    I thought his entire candidacy and presidency were both jokes. Zing!!!

    May 9, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Can Dude

    Unfortunately what is not so funny is the arrogance and ignorance, likely bigotry comments of some clearly Republican ( read "Repugnant" ) posts here that is breathtakingly sad for the rest of America. Some Republican ideology, administered in a small, measured way is part and parcel of a capitalist society. However what we see in these posts is a scary ideology of hatred that seems to have become well associated with the Republican party. As a Canadian, I wish Mr. Obama was the Prime Minister of Canada. In fact, I suspect most western countries are also green with envy.

    You so-called Republicans should thank your lucky stars that you have a Great President. The BIGGEST JOKE that is NOT funny would be to see your beloved Palin serve as VP or some day even President.......God – or someone with tremendous power – help us all!

    May 9, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. Brian

    Mike...you an idiot! If it wasn't for Bush and the republicans we would not be in this mess.

    You may want to start using your head instead of following (like sheep) the Republican Party.

    May 9, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Rodney

    I am tired, tired, tired of these right wing comments about Obama. 8 years of a declining society, privatization, torture and deregulation that has put Americans at risk, finacialy, Economicaly, Enviromnetaly and ethicaly. It is no longer the power that anyother Country looks up to. The country would be in ruins had it continued on with the path of right wing extremist.

    It amazes me that folks sit down and bash a president that has taken over the worst American state of affairs EVER. Yes some presidents had depressions and wars, but no president has ever has taken over with these kinds of multiple problems stemming from pure greed and irresponsiblity.

    Ask yourself if you just vote and argue for one party no matter what they do are you supporting a democratic system. I think they need to start handing out some IQ pills for these Obama bashers.

    May 9, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. Maggie

    It is a shame that The president will allow 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 not allow the Day of Prayer like all the rest of the good presidents of the past. Why is this any different unless the president not only this and uses our tax dollars to try and be funny when it is already funny he is even in the WH.

    May 9, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. gene

    I think Obama has many good ideas, one is educating our childern and the stupid rednecks from down south so some day a generation will learn how to spell and write complete sentences. Talk note you bunch of hicks...there is more to life than fishin´, huntin´, and hatin´ . Go to school, learn a trade, get a real job and stop crying.

    May 9, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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