President Obama did two nearly impossible things at the jokey White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday: he outperformed a genuine comedian (Seth Meyers was very good but Obama was even better) and he successfully made Voldemart – uh, I mean Donald Trump – look as ridiculous as he should have been looking these past weeks.
Here’s the video of the President’s monologue.
Don’t miss the hilarous taped bit at the start when he promises to reveal his actual birth video, then shows a clip from The Lion King. Even better, his deadpan followup: “I want to make clear to the Fox News table – that was a joke. That was not my real birth video. That was a childrens’ cartoon.” The camera cut to Bill O’Reilly, not exactly writhing with laughter.
But the best Obama jokes were direct targets at Trump. Speaking with faux seriousness about the game-show host’s vast experience, Obama pointed to a competition about a steakhouse on The Celebrity Apprentice and noted that Trump did not scapegoat Meat Loaf, he fired Gary Busey. With perfect delivery, Obama added: “These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.”
It was revealing that Trump sat there sour and stony-face during most of the jokes from Obama and Meyers, which is pretty much a violation of Politics 101. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner demands that you at least pretend to be good-humored when people make fun of you, not behave like a bully who can dish it out but can’t take it.
Obama also suggested that several Republican candidates might not have been born in this country. Maybe Michele Bachmann is really Canadian? Interesting that he left Sarah Palin off that list. He seemed happy, even relieved, to be able to strike back, finally.
And he even made a Michelle Obama joke about what happened at the White House Easter celebration. He went around handing candy to children; Michelle ran after him snatching it out of their hands. That is smart, laugh-at-yourself politics.
(Seth Meyers’s monologue has finally appeared online too; you can find it here.)
You have to see and hear Obama’s delivery to appreciate how deft this skewering was.