Wednesday, November 25, 2020

But really, Obama is hilarious

President Obama regaled audiences last Saturday at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Much ado goes to Keegan-Michael Key of Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele,” but no one can deny that our president has some serious comedic timing.

The annual Correspondents’ Dinner is ultimately nothing more than a dinner for the president, his administration and members of the press. Over the years, it has turned into a “roast” of sorts where those in attendance tease and poke fun at the White House realm.

This year, President Obama’s speech was aided by Key’s recurring character Luther, who is also known as the president’s “anger translator.” Their performance was pointed and hilarious.

When Obama brought up the significance of the event, Luther countered “Really, what is this dinner? And why am I required to come to it?” When Obama mentioned that Hillary Clinton will need to raise “huge sums” of money for the upcoming presidential election, Luther exclaimed “Ahhhh yeah! Khaleesi is coming to Westeros!” …And then every “Game of Thrones” fan cheered with joy from their couch.

It could be said that Obama’s speech was only as funny as it was because of Key’s performance, but, line after line, Obama truly held his own. NPR journalist Domenico Montanaro made a “Top 8” list of Mr. President’s best jokes from Saturday night.

  • The “Bucket” List. When asked if he has a bucket list, Obama replies that he has a list that rhymes with “bucket.” Example: Immigration executive action? “Bucket,” he said. Stricter climate rules? “Bucket.”
  • End of Times. “Michele Bachmann predicted I would bring about the Biblical end of days. Now that’s big. … Lincoln, Washington — they didn’t do that,” Obama said.
  • Those grey hairs. Obama bemoaned that he has so much to do, like negotiate with Iran “all while finding time to pray five times a day.”

“We’re always looking for jokes that are only funny — or, at least, especially funny — if the person saying them is President Obama,” lead speechwriter David Litt said.

These jokes are hysterical. I don’t even care if they were written for the president and given to him on a note card the night before. It’s all about the delivery, and Obama’s comedic timing always wins.

Obama even made a zinger last Wednesday when NFL Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, visited the White House.

“I usually tell a bunch of jokes at these events, but with the Patriots in town I was worried that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat,” Obama said.

For those of you not up-to-date on the “Deflategate” situation, the NFL found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were underinflated during the first half of their Jan. 18 game this past season.

Obama later said, “That whole story got blown a little out of proportion.”

Our president is hilarious. Now, why do people get so up in arms about this? Some say Obama’s jokes are unprofessional. Others say he takes his humor too close to the “hard-to-define threshold” of what is appropriate coming from the president. I, however, agree with one of Obama’s administration officials.

“So much of the conversation in Washington caters to the extreme—either the trivial or the hyperbolic—and humor is a good way to poke holes in both,” the official told CNN.

Our president is a funny human being. Becoming president should not take away your right to be comical, and Obama embraces this. When he makes a joke, it’s because his nation needs to laugh. How refreshing is that?

CNN journalist Stephen Collinson said it best. “Obama gets away with dropping the anvil like this because he often delivers his jokes with a wink and a wide smile.”

So, if you haven’t watched his speech yet—for whatever reason—cue it up, relax for a minute and share a laugh with our president. Not many people outside the U.S. can say they’ve had that experience.

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