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. John Doh!

    For all you guys who've finally come down to complaining about a Teleprompter -

    ALL Leaders use it! Go back to all the way to Moses! He had but 10 simple commandments to read out and was so scared of screwing it up. So what did he do?

    He carved it on a frekin' stone!!

    May 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. sherey

    It's a lighthearted evening...everyone needs this...even the President who has had such a huge agenda since taking office. He deserves to enjoy an evening such as this!

    May 9, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. Jim

    The CNN live coverage of tonights gala affair really is lousy live coverage.

    May 9, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Hzzvnh

    Carol L should take a chill pill with her attack on a contributor – and so should those who are so negative towards the president. I'm a Republican, I didn't vote for him, and I don't like all of his policies and actions but I'm not so blind that I can't see that we needed a change. It'd be better if he didn't have to kow-tow to the left leaning side of his party and would be even better if Reid and Pelosi got trapped in the Yucca Mountain when they close it down so they couldn't try to press their agendas (OK, maybe I need a chill pill) but overall I'm giving him a chance. Certainly being focused on the green economy, ending tax cuts that support moving jobs overseas, and being less confrontive in our foreign policies are things I see as being good. GM, Chrysler, AIG, Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac bailouts and support for unions... well, not so much. But in general I'm giving him a chance – a chance that I hope both Republicans and Democrats give to each other rather than keep up these attacks.

    May 9, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. Billy

    We Obama supporters have nothing to worry about, Barack will be good and deliver like always, I'm pretty sure the only way he could give the GOP some fire power in this issue if he choked on pretzel or went on a hunting trip and accidently shot one of his friends in the face, oh wait.

    May 9, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Otto

    Reply to: whaley41.

    President Bush is a completely different kind of guy; he is expected to make not goofs big huge blunders. He had a way about him that the comedians loved "open mouth, stick foot in" Every time he open his mouth, a blunder came out but ask any GOP and they'll tell you they love him any way.

    With this President, it seem no one expects a mistake as they bash him using teleprompters and ever reading from a script. Well...too bad, Senor Bush made mistakes read simple script and NO he could not use a teleprompter either; he makes a goof ball if he ever tried to use one.

    My comments were that he President is human and there's nothing wrong making mistakes once in a while; after all he is not in a straight jacket and should time to laugh at himself. That's human!

    Take a look at his grin...is it not funny and fun to have a real guy in the White House instead of one who is far withdrawn from the human society?

    If I was in DC when he and the VP stopped for burgers; I'd have loved to buy them both a couple. That's change!

    May 9, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. WIlly Brown

    I always thought his best comedy act was hook winking people to vote for him. LOL, LOL, LOL.

    May 9, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. Reed Hough

    Stuff it Mike. Obama didn't make the mess this country is in in the span of just over 100 days. This is the result of eight years of the Bush Republican Administration and Big Corporate greed. Pipe down and crawl back in your hole. This country doesn't need the ignorant poison that people like you spew. Now THATS FUNNY!

    May 9, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. w.l. jones

    The Republican is join the Democratic party like a stampede herd of Texas Longhorne. Way to go Democratic.

    May 9, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Chris

    Does everyone truly believe that this "mess" that we are in just happened overnight? People wakeup, this was coming and those of you that praise Bush walked though 8 (EIGHT) YEARS with you EYES CLOSED SHUT. Why weren't you complaining when we didn't find all those WMD? Why weren't you complaining when gas prices were $4+? Why weren't you complaining when they tortured all those people over there? Why weren't you complaining about all the soldiers that were getting killed 'for Bushes'. Why weren't you complaining when all the nations of the world practically turned their backs on us (Name 7 countries that would come to our aid in the next hour if we needed them). The problem was there and no one wanted to see it or hear about it. Everyone just went "ah, the new president will straighten everything out". Well, it doesn't work that way.

    We as a country don't get this way in a month, 6 months or a year. It was slowly coming year, after year, after year and everyone of us, YES ALL OF US, are to blame for sitting on our butts and not raising our voices to change a dang thing. In the 60's and 70's we were heard, but now, just a bunch of prissies – who cheat and want it all – don't want to work for it – would rather steal from those of us who've worked hard all our lives and now some of us have lost it all – and YOU – all you want to do is point fingers instead of trying to be the solution to the "problem". Remember, the elected officials work for US! WE voted them in.

    If you all sit back and think about how bad our own government shafted us in the past eight years and we did NOTHING.................. then you'll see how stupid we all look complaining about a dinner that Obama is going to.

    May 9, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  11. Jon Q Public

    Yes, Osama Obama's a joke alright. His spending like a drunk sailor is an even bigger joke and the way he is trashing the Constitution and endangering the security of the country is an even bigger joke! What's the ultimate punchline? Another 911 by his Islamist buddies? I can hardly wait.

    May 9, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. Greg Goodale

    Carolyn McLuskie – could you possible write something with more falsehoods and lies. Actually, I don't think you lied, unfortunately, I actually think you believe what you wrote, which is a shame, since there are many people out there, like yourself, that vote. First of all, Bush never tortured anyone and certainly those individuals that were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques were not and are not "innocent" as you put it. But if you want to believe it was torture, then Speaker Pelosi stood by and did nothing to stop it. Next, if Bush lied to get us into a war with Iraq, then Bill and Hillary Clinton lied, so did John Kerry and Al Gore, Madeleine Albright, the United Nations, the British, German, and French intelligence agencies, and I could keep going. If Bush lied then he was the smartest man in the world because he got everyone else to say the same lies while he was Governor of Texas and before when he owned a baseball team. Next, we could debate for days whether the federal government was responsible for the aftermath of Katrina, but the fact is that thousands of people didn’t die in New Orleans, the actual number was 1,464, of which the majority died due to the actual hurricane and drowned due to the levy breach, not of thirst hanging out waiting for FEMA to save the day. So if you expect your President to save people from Hurricane’s, then good luck. The rest of your diatribe isn’t worth responding to, as your intelligence, or lack thereof, speaks for itself.

    May 9, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. Dem in Florida

    Certainly Obama will be funnier than Bush, who joked about looking for WMDs under his desk with thousands of US soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded, and hundreds of thousand of Iraqi's killed, wounded or displaced.

    May 9, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. Greg Goodale

    Carolyn McLuskie – First of all, Bush never tortured anyone and certainly those individuals that were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques were not and are not "innocent" as you put it. But if you want to believe it was torture, then Speaker Pelosi stood by and did nothing to stop it. Next, if Bush lied to get us into a war with Iraq, then Bill and Hillary Clinton lied, so did John Kerry and Al Gore, Madeleine Albright, the United Nations, the British, German, and French intelligence agencies, and I could keep going. If Bush lied then he was the smartest man in the world because he got everyone else to say the same lies while he was Governor of Texas and before when he owned a baseball team. Next, we could debate for days whether the federal government was responsible for the aftermath of Katrina, but the fact is that thousands of people didn’t die in New Orleans, the actual number was 1,464, of which over 90% died due to the actual hurricane and drowned due to the levy breach, not of thirst hanging out waiting for FEMA to save the day. So if you expect your President to save people from Hurricane’s, then good luck. The rest of your diatribe isn’t worth responding to, as your intelligence, or lack thereof, speaks for itself.

    May 9, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. The Taxman

    Yo Obama, are you going to tax me via cap and trade for expelling CO2 when I breath?

    May 9, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. Fred

    I cant wait to see this! Barack has always shown great humor throughout his campaign and presidency!

    I've only seen 3 presidents in my lifetime and Obama is by far the best one! hands down!

    I'm looking forward to next 8 years of greatness here in America..under President Obama of course!

    Thank You!

    May 9, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. Viet Tran

    Man, "mike" people like you make me vomit. The man's been in office for less than a year and you put all of GW's bull crap into Obama's lap. Should be get GW and Cheney back into office to finish off the crap that they started 8 yrs. ago? Get your head out the sand.

    May 9, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. Ann

    Comedian! not the best, but comedian.

    May 9, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  19. MARY L SHAW

    This highly intelligent, exquisitely educated man and his wife Michelle are the best thing that has happened to this country since it broke from England.

    May 9, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. lauren

    I REALLY like Obama ... but after 4 months of unemployment, I really don't have a lot of humor left.

    May 9, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. Paul from Ky

    Obama is such a breath of fresh air. Not much is said about his 10 years teaching constitutional law without a teleprompter, must have faked it. I mean graduate from Harvard Law School piece of cake, what dumb-ass couldn't accomplish that. He sure fooled Michelle, maybe she was a quota graduate. Hmm, maybe she wrote his books obviously he's not literate enough.

    Let me see pro-choice, shift balance of power in the Supreme Court, Stem Cell revitalized, global warming acknowledged, closing tax loop holes for tax avoiders, putting limits on banks to keep them from looting their patrons, gay rights being addressed, especially in the military , separation of church and state. -

    My prayers have been answered which would lead me to believe God has chosen sides at last and allowed evolution to prevail. The black race is the chosen few and Darwinian Theory is prevailing. Fortunately, the Republican Party’s embracing the Christian right has alienated God at an appropriate time in history to allow natural laws to prevail.

    I feel blessed to be one of the superior minds that is able to see the irony of Gods work as it unfolds, 2012 will be the turning point in mans history. Gays, Blacks, Mexicans and all other minorities will join together and embrace whites and ask them to join together for a more compassionate, unconditional loving, tolerant and peaceful 21st Century.. American and un-American will join God. HE, in his wonder, has found new meaning in "Cosmic Joke". May we all be in on it too!

    May 9, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. m smith

    Our president is both gracious and eloquent.Smart and funny. I think all these peope that have nothing but nasty things to say are unpatriotic. The fact that the man is intellegent and working his tail off seems to fly right over these morons heads. Most seem to be good ol boy Rush limbaugh fans who profess being christians but make fun of every other race and religion. They panic when they hear his middle name. Like by just saying it they will all turn into muslims or something . Get a grip people. He is doing a great job durning a very bad time. Let's move forward for a change.

    May 9, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Dave in Illinois

    How can he miss with a team of joke writers to rival Jay Leno and, of course, a couple of teleprompters to keep him on script. Watch for a lot of George Bush jokes as Obama always blames him for everything.

    May 9, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  24. Charlie in Maine

    Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!

    Okay well where isi t then? I mean I really wasn't that rough on the GOPwhat gives???

    May 9, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  25. tim

    wow people, this is a light hearted event. don't take it so seriously.

    May 9, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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