Monday, May 11, 2009

Nerd Prom

That's what the call the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner each spring where several thousand media types bring famous guests to hear the president be funny.

A generation ago, I went, and even snagged a Cabinet secretary and a good table one year, and felt like the gawker that so many of the snooty newspeople really are at heart -- jocksniffers. A generation ago, the celebs were government officials. Now the celebs are really celebs. After some low-grade invitations during the Bush era, this year's dinner was chock full of A-listers.

In the past few years my son has replaced the Allen family as a representative at these affairs, where news organizations pay a grand or more per table and everyone dresses up for the spring soiree, hence the appellation "Nerd Prom." The younger Allen was seated at a table with Christian Slater, and I only know him from a small part on one season of "The West Wing," but apparently, despite being 40, is well known to the younger crowd and, apparently, to women. So, I didn't hear anything gossipy about the dinner.

However, I am pleased to report that President Obama is a great stand-up comedian. Yeah, yeah, he has the best joke writers available, but as we all know the secret to comedy is timing.

Here are some of his better one-liners: (Click the links below to judge for yourself.)

-"In the next 100 days I will learn to go off the prompter, and Joe Biden will learn to stay on the prompter."

-"In the next 100 days our bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even John Boehner* will consider becoming a Democrat ... After all we have a lot in common. He is a person of color... although not a color that appears in the natural world."

-"In the next 100 days we will house train our dog Bo. Because the last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant."

-"We had been rivals during the campaign. But these days we could not be closer. In fact, the second she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and gave me a big kiss. Told me I had better get down there myself."

--"Tomorrow is mothers day. I do have to say, this is a tough holiday for Rahm** because he is not used to saying the word 'day' after 'mother.'"

* -- Boehner is the Republican leader in the house and sports a permanent tan, making him a worthy successor to George Hamilton IV.

** -- Rahm Emanuel is the president's chief of staff, known for never mincing words. Emanuel lost is middle finger in a childhood accident, which caused Obama to remark on an earlier occasion that it rendered his aide speechless.

There is also always a professional comedian on the bill, and I have in the past seen a young Jay Leno and an old Mort Sahl. This time it was Wanda Sykes, who I do not think is funny at all.

But she did note that Obama is so protected by the news media he is never pictured smoking but is always portrayed bare-chested.

This event is worthless, but it is pretty much the Washington equivalent of Oscar night. Except the tinsel makers of Hollywood can't kill you.

Here, after the dinner, Obama meets with Rupert Murdoch:

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