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. Ruty

    The funniest thing is the republican party falling apart and Limbaugh, Hannity and Paling falling with it.

    May 9, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. Caine 607

    To respond to someone else's comment about Obama "thinking things through for a change". Gitmo is a great example of how Obama doesn't think things through. Ge goes off half-cocked about "closing Gitmo in a year" without coming up with a plan first on what to do with detainees, which we are still waiting on.

    Obama thought he was going to embarrass bush by revealing torture memos to the public. Obviously his staff didn't read them over, because if they did, they wouldn't have egg on their faces having to publicly admit the "torture" got us vital information to protect the country. Obama didn't think that one through.

    Then he gives the British prime minister a totally thoughtless gift, obviously not doing his homework before his two daughters recieve lavish dresses, and a leatherbound winston churchill biography from the brits.

    then he goes off half cocked about bombing pakistan even though Musharraff is an ally of ours, but then talking about "mutual respect with iran." Obama appears to be tough on our allies, and soft with our enemies, which just ends up rewarding those who treat the US like garbage, and punishes those who treat us well. Obama needs to think through his foreign policy statements before he says them.

    May 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  3. steve hunter

    I'm all humored out at the way everything is analysed. Nothing is spontenious anymore, and when someone is spontenious, they're dragged over the coals for it. Isn't it about time this great country relaxed a little bit and started to have fun? In the words of the Joker...'why...so....serious?'

    May 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. richard - Minneapolis

    Boy, I have never seen such unwarranted animosity! Barrack Obama is a fine man and a fine president!!

    May 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  5. einstein

    There is nothing more amusing reading comments bashing Obama based on his teleprompter use, comments stating that he is inarticulate (come on, really?) and then laughing to myself at how completely poor the grammar and spelling are in each and every comment attempting to drop him down a notch. From what I can tell half of CNN's comment posters should live their lives with a teleprompter or at least someone to write and edit their comments for them. An example...
    "He have earned his PHD on how to use teleprompter properly."
    I also heard racism and bigotry are funny again, so that's kinda cool. I also don't know why we care what Texas voters think anyway; if they have it their way, pretty soon they won't be a part of the United States at all. I don't see too many Canadians writing on here, do you?

    And in all fairness, most of you guys from the super left: Please, please, please! Go get your English 101 notebooks, re-learn what a comma splice is and start spell checking your comments first. There is no country called afghan (uncapitalized).

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

    Just ask all the people who have lost there jobs and see how funny it is.

    May 9, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. Alicia

    It really seems distasteful how the elite are out there once again flaunting their wealth while millions upon millions of people are struggling to put food on their table and keep their homes and jobs.

    This is a perfect example of how the President, Politicians and the Media are so out of touch with this nation.

    We are going through one of the worst economic times in recent history and yet this White House seems to spend so much money and time partying oblivious to the rest of the nation.

    It is really disappointing ......we thought this President was going to be different...instead he is more of the same!

    May 9, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. 30m-PUMA voted for McCain

    Lori,

    What's even more funny is that the Democrats are no better than the Republicans. lol. Time to wake up.

    May 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Ernestine

    Lamar in Dallas, TX May 9th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

    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!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    AMEN BROTHER!!!!!!

    May 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. jay yo

    As Funny as Kraimer.

    May 9, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. Lex

    You are absolutely right Carolyn. Anyone who has a basic understanding of economics should realize that all economic policies have roughly a 12 to 18 month lagged effect. Ergo, the mess we are still trying to dig ourselves out of is still the product of the prior administration. There is no quick fix, and if you think tax cuts are the solution when consumer confidence is at an all time low, you are as ignorant and provincial as our last president. Let's take another look at the state of the economy in early to mid 2010 and begin to judge Obama's approach at that time. Many of the critics will be very surprised. Those of us that are educated and/or take time to actually think about the issues won't be surprised at all.

    May 9, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  12. GeorgeWBush=SpinelessWaste

    If you think the democrats are to blame for 9% unemployment or ANY part of this recession, you obviously weren't paying attention to the previous 8 years of cronyism and pandering to the rich that went on while the worst president in the history of the United States of America was in the office. The Worst President in the History of the United States of America ruined what the democrats created...a surplus, decent standing (politically and militarily, if not morally though they sure didn't help that either) in the world, and the idea that the American people vote based on the quality and competence of a candidate for president, not on manufactured fear. Bush was an abomination. Republicans are an abomination.

    May 9, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. brian

    Stop criticising the president. He inherited the mess from the previous incompetent administration. He is doing tremendous job in trying to fix the mess that he was left with. He is the best one we had since Clinton.

    May 9, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  14. Robert Landry

    Maybe he can make more jokes about the disbled who participiate in the Special Olympics...

    May 9, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  15. IKE in Atlanta

    All you idiots! Did you elect a comedian or a president? Why does the president have to be funny, drink with the 'Joes', pack a gun or all the foolish prototypes that people have come to associate with a prsident? He only has to know how to lead a group of intelligent people. Thats all he needs. And he does that excellentlt well.

    May 9, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. Otto

    The laugh is on you! For the sake of being serious though "mary smithy" said the President is one big joke!

    This is so funny; how is he a big joke? He did not cause the finincial markets to crash, nor did he cause the housing crash. I am quite sure no President and that means DEM or GOP could have done better than he is trying to do.

    It is impossible for any human who has one ounce of common sense to blame this President for the dismal state we are in today.

    He is doing more than is expected to help those who are out of work and to rebiuld the trust needed in the finincial markets.

    As you stated he being a big joke; take a close look at yourself and you'll see the joke is on you.

    Even my 19 year old daughter who found work last year; just after her 18th birthday, is not complaining. She began college and is doing fine, plus making money for her own affairs.

    Yes, it is bad all around to to blame the President is a sin; in just over 100 days in office, he could not do more than he has done so far.

    At least, he is not chopping bush as our previous President did while taking vacations once every month.

    May 9, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. filmishmish

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

    Clearly Mike has no understanding of cause and effect. Eight years of disastrous economic policies and one should expect a year or two of cleanup and hardship by a competent president.

    May 9, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. jdomn

    Of course it will be funny. The jokes will be written by comedians and professional writers. Anybody can be funny when they have jokes written for them. This story really isn't all that interesting.

    May 9, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Shoe Thrower

    I voted for Sadam Hussein Obama....!!
    Did I get ripped off?

    May 9, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. Adam

    Unemployment would be a lot higher if Bush was still in office. Businesses tend to do better when a Dem is in office. Know your history

    May 9, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  21. JT

    "For the first time, I am not proud of my country" from Texas voter. Why is it when liberals say that, it means they hate America, but when you say it, you're a proud American? Hypocrisy, thy name is Texas Voter.

    May 9, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. P Tharp

    A great man is leading our country for a change. He and his wife are both smart, role models who will do more for this country than any president in recent years, and more than that, will make a difference in the world. People who want the "old ways" that didn't work, and who are bigots, need to get a life somewhere else. Our country doesn't need you.

    May 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. Shameful

    He is both and isnt good at either. Look at the Job Market, Look at the Economy, look at the overall health of the USA. Obama;s only comic relief would be to be Leader and his leadership is a JOKE,

    So I Guess Obama Is A Comedian.

    May 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    It will be hard to top his biggest joke.....his economic plan.

    May 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  25. RLH

    I bet they don't make any jokes about monkeys.

    May 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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