May 9th, 2009
03:05 PM ET
6 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. carey

    All these complaints about progress? Everyone wants instant gratification instead of doing some hard work and making a change in their own life that could make a difference. It's easy to blame a hundred day old president for all the problems his predecessors have created. I think all the critics should take a good look at their selves instead of looking for a government hand out.

    May 9, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. MARY L SHAW

    Every mule has to bray one in awhile and this is your time.

    May 9, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. Cant win 4 loosing

    Wow- sum folks r just imbeciles...President Obama has been in office just under 4 mos and he is a failure and has ruined the country?!!! That's priceless...we had Dubya who though he was Napolean Bonaparte of the 21st century that ran wild starting a war that BANKRUPTED us because of some vendetta he had against Hussein...Bin Laden is still running around and because of his deregulation of wall street we r facing utter devastation and so Obama comes along trying 2 do the best he can with the pile of dung he was left 2 fix and retardlicans r complaining that he ddnt fix the world in 180 days!!!! Then they say that the president's supporters think he's Jesus!!! WOW...President Obama could find the cure 4 cancer and AIDS and end all poverty in the world and the repubs would complain that he didn't do it quick enuff! Those ppl r impossible- exile them! Give the 500 repubs left yheir own island- let Mccain and Palin run it and take all of the wall street execs and let them bankrupt their own economy!!!

    May 9, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. The Phoenix

    I voted for Obama, even though a Rebublican. He has what it takes to lead this troubled world, and he is doing it. He is Zen, has the presence of the Divine, and will go down in the history books as changing this pathetic world to a more respectful, diverse, Equal-Opportunity, and not bigoted.

    May 9, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Golden Girl

    Sue May 9th, 2009 4:26 pm ET

    Dear Professional Liberal Blogger "GOP RIP",
    How do you know that Obama is intelligent, intellectual, analytical, articulate, and Finally well-educated?
    He spent high school in a drunken, drugged haze(as per his own words), he won't give up his grades from college(Occidental or the Ivies), he seems analytical b/c he has to get his hundreds of advisors to tell him the answer, and he's articulate b/c then those advisors put the words on the teleprompter.
    Finally well-educated? You need to get out of the hypnotic state you're in!
    ______________________________________________________

    Sue, he has accomplishments to prove it. Similarly, you have this post to prove you're an idiot!

    May 9, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Jack Ruby

    AWOL from the military. Drunk Driver. Cannot read even from a teleprompter. Did almost NO public appearances without being on a military base (wish someone would actually count those up...). LIED to us to get us in a war. Betrayed us all by flying the Bin Laden family back to Arabia secretly before letting us know what was up. GEORGE BUSH! BOBBLE HEAD PRESIDENT! I cut my list short cause my wife called me to eat supper. Wish BUSH and his fans would be called up to EAT SOME CROW!

    May 9, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. MARY L SHAW

    CORRECTION:

    TCM: Every mule has to bray one in awhile and this is your time.

    May 9, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Reed

    Perhaps the reason George Bush skipped this event is that HE always ended up being the joke whenever he spoke. He put his foot in is mouth so many times that we learned a new word... "Bushisms". It's good that Obama has the presence to take a break from cleaning up the mess of the previous administration to lighten up and laugh.

    May 9, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. MARY L SHAW

    TCM: It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

    May 9, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. Rye

    Bush always used the telepropter but still could not deliver eligible speech to the world! Presid. Obama knows how to work it that is why you think no other presid. has ever used it! Call a spade a spade...POTUS is good...We all know it is typical "Jealousy" and "Spin" from the likes of 'Texas voter'.

    May 9, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Andy B

    Woo Hoo they say "Proceeds from the dinner will help feed the hungry and fund journalism scholarships."

    I'm HOPING that they'll send those clowns over at Fox to cash in on the journalism scholarships. Lord knows they need it.

    May 9, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  12. Mark

    Can't see why he needs to be comedian now. The fact that he fooled so many people into thinking he was the next "Martin Luther King" and talked his way into office was the biggest joke he could have ever made!

    May 9, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. m smith

    The president will be funny . Ronald Reagan used a telaprompter as did most of our presidents. So what's the big deal? If that's the best the repos can do let them have at it. Most are a bunch of ill informed illerate Rush Limbaugh groupiesanyway. What can you expect from the no we can't party anyway. Christianity apparently means we are good and if you don't agree you suck and will go to hell. Texas should seceed. Either seceed or permently move the special olympics to texas.

    May 9, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. Jasmine in Germany

    He'll be himself and he'll be fine. He's got a great sense of humour/humor and it is wonderful that he is natural about it.. His twinkling eye is natural, his smile is natural, he smiles and laughs naturally when he is amused. Let's be thankful that our President sets a good example. It's good medicine for everyone..

    May 9, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. gary

    What the Whitehouse needs more comedians.

    May 9, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  16. Tom

    It won't be a long speech because they probaly don't use a teleprompter. Obama couldn't get the inagural swearing in right, so tonight ought to be funny.

    the best thing he could do for his career is sit there and shut up.

    May 9, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Linda

    I'm sure by now Weary Barry can find SOME ONE that has skill and a sense of humor to write him a better skit than all his past speeches, or bits.

    And as long as he uses his teleprompter, I'm sure he'll read the words well. As he has said, When it comes to reading someone elses written words, "I'm gifted".

    mmmhmmm...now that's funny.

    May 9, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. catmom

    Bush looking for WMD's in the Oval office wasn't funny either. You haters need to stop whining although I know that won't happen.

    Guess what Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States of America and as such he can and will participates in all the same activities that all other Presidents before him have. He will use the White House, the Presidential airplanes and helicopters and security just as all other Presidents before him have. He Will take vacations, travel overseas and live in luxury just like the previous President and all the other Presidents before and after him. His wife and children will also be afforded the same privileges and luxuries and security as all other First Families have had. That being said people get over your hatred it is really petty.

    May 9, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. MARY L SHAW

    When a highly intelligent man speaks, there are those who try to denigrate him in defense of the fact they do not understand him since he speaks above their level of understanding, and they hide that fact with vicious criticism..

    May 9, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. carole

    I can understand why some very disappointed Republicans and
    right-wingers make disparaging remarks about President
    Obama. They lost, they lost big, and their party "leaders" are
    wandering around trying to figure out who they are and what they
    believe in. It seems all they are left with is vitriole, nastiness, and
    outright lies. The president works. The president works hard. He puts in more time than most and has many more problems to deal
    with than most did in their early days in office. If the naysayers want
    their voices to be heard, they might try speaking in a way that would
    make people want to listen. For right now, most anti-Obama posts
    sound like bullies trying to start a fight on an elementary school
    playground. Former Republicans like myself walk away and will
    continue to do so.

    May 9, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. Imarriedmysister in TheOleSouth

    President Obama is very funny.At least we can laugh with him and not at him,like the moron before him and the children that post their hate speech here.

    May 9, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. black13

    A word to the unwise: If you cannot seem to formulate an articulate, gramatically sound statement, then you have no business bashing a president that has your best interests in mind. Stop twiddling away at your keyboards and pay some attention to the further mockery you are making of your flailing party. Yes Republicans, I'm talking to you. Take a break from your hate-mongering and get hooked on phonics. Your mothers would be appalled. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything!

    May 9, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Whatever the president says tonight, it cannot compare with our last president, who made a "joke" at this very dinner about not being able to find weapons of mass destruction. There's nowhere to go but up after that.

    And he actually is a funny guy, we just don't get to see it often. Because he actually is taking his job seriously, what with the economy, two wars, unemployment rising, Pakistan, etc.

    I hope he has a great time tonight, he deserves it!

    May 9, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. Mario in Texas

    After 8 years of Bush, we all need a little laugh.

    May 9, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. Matt in WI

    Seriously? Teleprompters. That's all you've got huh? Sounds like a pretty good President to me when all those who want to hate him can only think up crap like that.

    May 9, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
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