May 9th, 2009
03:05 PM ET
12 years ago

Barack Obama: President and Comedian?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Jasmine in Germany

    I find it to be bizarre that writers (comment posters) take the time to quibble and argue about nonsense, and the big picture gets lost. No wonder that the USA has an education deficit, the proof is abounding.

    May 9, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Frank

    Of course Barack will be funny tonite. He's got a wonderful sense of humor. He is intelligent and humble. Most important, perhaps, he's the one who took on the challenge to lead this country out of the crisis state resulting from 8 long humorless years. Anyone who can clean up the mess left behind from the Bush / Cheney administration and deal with negative right-wing neo-con nay-sayers has got to maintain
    a sense of humor.

    I can't wait to see the highlights on the Sunday talk shows.......

    May 9, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. Joanna

    I thought the annual Al Smith charity dinner in New York City last year was very funny. I am sure he will have something up his sleeve. But humor is the last thing i require in my president.

    May 9, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. obamamama

    All you frickin haters!! Obama is intellectually brilliant, he's articulate and funny, and has an actual personality, which is more than can be said about most politicians. America is still so racist, yeah, that's why folks don't like him. A black man outshines a bunch of white guys, people can't deal with that. He is top notch, so lay off, haters. This written by a middle aged white female.

    May 9, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Eva

    He is a JOKE all the way!!!

    May 9, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Brandon

    You'll have to give the President time. Let's not forget that the elephants have been in the White House for 8 years now. That's a lot of **** to clean up. If anything I think he needs a bigger shovel and some waders.

    May 9, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. txleadhead

    The only skill he has is lying. Name one campaign promise that Uncle Tom has kept? Better yet, when has he once listened to the people? Adress the issues. Bush's War Crimes, the War in Iraq, illegal alliens we don't want in Our Country, Legalizing weed, punish Big Oil for screwing us so long, Haliburton's missing 8 Billion, no Social Security cost of living increase and the shaft we're taking to bail out the Special Interest Groups (who will be there in force tonight).
    Maybe he should go on TV less + start listening to what the majority of this Country has to say. The way he listens you would still think Bush is in office.

    May 9, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. william Jackson

    A Lot Of You People Are So Right, President Obama Is A Very Good,
    President, Look At what He Has Done In His First 100 Days,Those Clowns
    On Talk Radio , and The Republican Losers, Just Hate That A Black Man
    Is Leading The Country,If They Know So Much Why Don't they Shut Their
    Big Mouths Do Something In Their own Communities,How About Ideals,TheyThink They Are Smarter Then The People, That More Half The Nation Voted for.Now Run And Tell That,Put That, In Your Pipe And Smoke It.

    May 9, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |

    Teleprompter? President Obama has given many many speeches without a teleprompter. One in particular on the night he won the Presidency. Brillant. But of course you republicans didn't see that.

    May 9, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. Chuck-Texas

    I'm a 72 year old white guy that grew up in the deep south when it was cool to be a biget. I have lived under U.S. Presidents since FDR. Barack Obama is the most intelligent, thoughtful, hardworking President since Thomas Jefferson. It does not mater that he is (half) black. It maters that he is a good man and that he WANTS to do well....and what it right and good for this country.

    I am one WHITE GUY that is finally VERY PROUD of my country for a change. And what a change it is, following 8 tears of the "Village Idiot" from state. So, while I'm also proud of Texas, I am not all that proud of our late President.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I love this President and his wonderful little family. They are just perfect to present America to the world. (My Opinion)

    May 9, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. the rector

    Please stop deifying this man. He's a politician and a lawyer, not the Dalai Lama or the Buddha. He is representing his personal view of the way forward and pressing his current perceived political advantage to the maximum total yield. He is however beginning to run into the washington wall. His proposed budget cuts are not sitting well with any one and there will be plenty of begging and backroom dealing to get any of them implemented, even if they find the funding down the road as long as the press can say he cut these programs their job will be done, like the bonuses paid to wall st execs at christmas. Obama and geithner knew the bonuses were going out, they inserted language into the bailout legislation specifically allowing those bonuses, then acted outraged when the media picked up the story. They let the bonuses go forward, they knew and then acted indignant on behalf of an angry public, typical washington politics, not any sort of change at all, but then what would you expect from a politician and a lawyer.

    May 9, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  12. Anonymous


    May 10, 2009 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  13. Boo

    Sometimes I wonder how it would be if the Republicans stop being bigots, close-minded, haters, hypocritical, self-righteous and know-it-all-but-no-proposal-at-all. It would not be good. If they become tolerant, open-minded, truthful, self-analytical and proposed better solutions, then the Democratic Party would lose its single best recruiter. So... thanks for all the absurdities and unbelievably un-Christian comments, right wing nuts.

    May 10, 2009 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
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