Post-Game: The 2009 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

The glad-handing, back-slapping yukfest of reporters getting cozy with politicians and the occasional celebrity that is the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner just ended. And Obama's roast absolutely killed it.

The president takes the podium at 9:56, and promises he's going to "speak from the heart, speak off the cuff." Two teleprompters raise in front of him. I can hear mass Twittering in the background.

  • "Most of you covered me, all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table."
  • He goes on to praise Michelle: "No matter which party you belong to, you have to agree, Michelle has the right to bear arms."
  • "Sasha and Malia aren't here tonight because they're grounded. You can't just take Air Force One on a joyride to Manhattan." Nailed it.
  • Rahm joke: "Mother's Day is a tough holiday for him. He's not used to having to say the word day after 'mother. (Pause) "That's true," he laughs. He laughs heartily at that.
  • "Dick Cheney was supposed to be here, but he was working on his memoirs. How To Shoot Friends and Interrogate People."
  • "During the next 100 days, we will design, build, and open a library to commemorate my first hundred days...we will house train our dog Bo, because the last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else to treat him like a fire hydrant. In the next 100 days, we will complete 100 days work in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest." The room dies.
  • Obama impersonating Hillary speaking to Arlen Specter: "Arlen, you know what I always say: if you can't beat em', join 'em."
  • "There are extraordinary hardworking journalists who lost their jobs in recent months...papers are struggling to stay open. I may not agree with everything you write or report, but I do so with the knowledge that when you are at your best, I am at my best."

Obama did very, very well. Most of the play was on his holier-than-thou stature with the press, and it worked without being overreached. On to Wanda Sykes, who hits the stage at around 10:13.

  • "The first black president! I know you're bi-racial, but. The first black president! That's unless you screw up. Then it's gonna be: what's up with the half-white guy?"
  • "I thought when you got in office you'd give up playing pickup basketball. That's one step forward, t
    two steps back. You probably think you got moves. Nobody's gonna give you a hard foul with the secret service standing around."
  • "You and Joe Biden gettin' burgers together? You guys can't hang out together. Who's idea was that, Nancy Pelosi's?" She then made a crack about Joe Biden being taken captive and giving up government secrets after being asked how the weather was. The first good, hearty laugh of her set.
  • "Sarah Palin was supposed to be here but pulled out at the last minute. Someone should tell her: that's not how you practice abstinence." Shocked guffaws from the audience. "Shut up, you'll be tellin' that one tomorrow."
  • "The country is broke. Sleeves cost money."
  • "You were over (in England) patting the Queen on her back like she just slid into home plate. And who's idea was it to give the Queen an iPod? What's she gonna do, get down to Lady Gaga?" Gets no laughs from the crowd, who probably thinks that's some kind of British luminary. "What're you gonna give the Pope, a Bluetooth?" Then they laugh. Speaking their language.
  • The big burn of the night: Sykes brings up Rush Limbaugh as the administration's biggest critic. ""Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight." Too much? Oh, okay." The Rush jokes are mostly just mean, and fall absolutely flat.
  • Fat joke about Sean Hannity fitting into the middle seat in coach.

The rest of it wasn't worth listening to or remembering. Before anything got started, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, Jennifer Levin, spoke while introducing the dinner. She made a crack standing next to Obama that got few laughs: "You know what they say: if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Haven't we been fawning enough?" Oh, also: they cut dessert for scholarship money they're giving out to prospective J-Schoolers. She lamented the pain of media, vaguely, and then C-Span cut to a terrible panel on comedy for two hours. Awesome!

Scored:

Obama: 8.5
Sykes: 4.5
C-Span Filler Program: 0. Not funny, and staffed by a panel of comedy writers. Go figure.

Here are the speeches themselves.

Obama, part 1.

Obama, part 2.

Sykes, part 1.

Sykes, part 2.