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White House

Obama: Bad for Comedians


President Obama high-fives late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel as Caren Bohan, a Reuters journalist and president of the White House Correspondents' Association, looks on during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on Saturday.(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

“The president is not great for comedians because he could probably be a comedian himself if he wanted to,” comedian Jimmy Kimmel told C-Span before he hosted the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner. “If somebody throws him a basketball he makes the shot. He ruins everything.”

Indeed, Kimmel was in the awkward position of making fun of a president whose critics are more cartoonish than he is. Last year, Obama beat the paid entertainment to the punch on that front, skewering the “birthers” and their patron saint Donald Trump. All while keeping his earpiece tuned to Pakistani radio to see how his Navy Seals were doing on that Osama bin Laden front. Good times were had by all, and that was before Saturday Night Live writer and comedian Seth Meyers took the stage.


This year, Obama seemed a little more relaxed. He even flexed his off-color muscle. His persona is squeaky clean enough that he got away with this doozy: “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious. [Pause] Soy sauce.” (Can you imagine Bill Clinton using that joke?)

(PICTURES: Inside the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner)

Obama got back in the good graces of his wife by pointing out that she is way more popular than he is. “I’m not going to attack any of the Republican candidates. Take Mitt Romney. We both think of our wives as our better halves. Polls show to an alarmingly insulting extent that the American people agree.”


Obama assured tea party conservatives that their conspiracy theories about his “secret agenda” is absolutely correct. “In my first term we repealed the policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he said to scattered cheers. “Wait! In my second term we will replace it with a policy known as It’s Raining Men.”

Kimmel had to bat cleanup, and he chose to go wonky. You would have thought he lived here. He made fun of the budget supercommittee, the war between House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and he even worked in a joke about a former Office of Management and Budget director. “There was a leak in the room above mine last night. I guess Peter Orszag left his mouth on.”

Kimmel also had to keep a room full of overly dressed, hair-sprayed, and drunk journalists awake. It works well if you needle them. “Scripps is here, thank God, just in case a spelling bee breaks out.” Or, “What’s black and white and read all over? Nothing anymore.”

But he managed to find a way to take the easy shot at Obama without coming off like a jerk. “Remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.”


Obama has proven remarkably adept at working the White House dinner crowd, and it was Kimmel’s first time, so he can be forgiven if his speech dragged as the wine was running out at the tables. He closed his speech charmlingly by insulting his 10th grade history teacher, who told Kimmel that he wouldn’t amount to anything with all his goofing off. “I’m about to high-five the president. Eat it, Mr. Mills.”

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