President Barack Obama boasts comic timing commensurate with his position, and in his jokey routine at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he gleefully skewered news channels from CNN to Fox News, Vice Presidents current and former, not to mention the entire Republican presidential field. “A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime,” Mr Obama said. “Which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime.”
Speaking at the dinner on 25 April, held at the Washington DC Hilton, Mr Obama also mocked his own Vice President, who has a habit of giving unprompted back rubs to the unsuspecting. “I feel more loose and relaxed than ever,” Mr Obama said. “Those Joe Biden shoulder massages are like magic. You should try one… Oh, you have?” Despite the teasing, the President said, he and Mr Biden are great friends. “We’ve gotten so close in some places in Indiana, they won’t serve us pizza anymore,” he added.
On the theme of gay marriage, Mr Obama noted that prospective GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told an interviewer he would decline an invitation to a same-sex wedding of a friend or loved one, “To which gays and lesbians across the country responded: ‘That’s not going to be a problem. Don’t sweat that one.’”
The President also introduced “Luther”, his “anger translator” – played by Keegan-Michael Key of the comedy duo Key and Peele. While Mr Obama made his characteristically relaxed pronouncements, “Luther” offered a less mellow translation. “In our fast changing world, traditions like the White House Correspondents’ Dinner are important,” said Mr Obama, translated by an irate Luther as: “I mean really what is this dinner? And why am I required to go to it?”
The annual event – which brings together politicians, the Washington press corps, and a smattering of Hollywood celebrities – is known to many as “nerd prom”. Guest host Cecily Strong acknowledged as much when she joked, “Some of the cast of the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is here, and they told me that even they have never seen this many nerds before.”
Ms Strong, who has a day-job as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, made light of recent controversies concerning the relationship between law enforcement and the black community, saying, “President Obama, your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police.” She also suggested that the Secret Service, which makes up Mr Obama’s security detail, is “the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”
If Hillary Clinton wins the race to the White House in 2016, she will have to address the Correspondents’ Dinner herself the following year. Of Ms Clinton, Ms Strong said, “I think she feels the same way Meryl Streep feels when she’s asked to audition for something: ‘Are you kidding me? You’re making me go through this? You know I’m going to win.’ ”
Mr Obama, too, joked about his former Secretary of State’s road tripping campaign, saying the US economy had become so dire, “I had a friend, just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year – and now she’s living out of a van in Iowa.”