Conan O’Brien, President Barack Obama trade jokes at 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Conan O’Brien had a tough act to follow Saturday night as headliner at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. President Barack Obama killed with his 23-minute feature spot.

President Obama, following Ed Henry from FOX News (who served as the host/opening act), joked that he “had 99 problems, and now Jay-Z was one,” regarding the rapper’s recent trip to Cuba. “That’s another rap reference, Bill,” Obama added. He also displayed a Photoshop montage of him trying on First Lady Michelle Obama’s bangs as a new hairdo. There’s also a gag about Obama getting started on his own presidential library right next to George W. Bush’s, and a Steven Spielberg video with “Daniel Day-Lewis” playing Obama and Tracy Morgan playing VP Joe Biden. Among Obama’s best zingers:

  • “Look. I get it. These days I look in the mirror, and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim Socialist that I used to be.”
  • “I go out on the basketball court. Took 22 shots. Made two of them! That’s right: Two hits, 20 misses. The executives at NBC asked, ‘What’s your secret?'”
  • On the WHCA offering Conan the speaking gig: “They were faced with that age-old dilemma: Do you offer it to him now, or do you wait for five years and then give it to Jimmy Fallon?”
  • On CNN: “I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is, I admire their commitment to cover all sides of the story. Just in case one of them happens to be accurate.”
  • “The History Channel is not here. Guess they were embarrassed about the whole Obama-is-a-devil thing. Of course, that never kept FOX News from showing up.” “They actually felt the comparison was not fair…to Satan.”
  • “But the problem is the media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can’t keep up with it. I remember when BuzzFeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.”
  • On Sheldon Adelson spending $100 million on negative ads during Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012: “Sheldon would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race! I probably wouldn’t have taken it. But I’d have thought about it. Michelle woulda taken it. You think I’m joking?”
  • On the GOP: “One thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered. But I can think of one minority they can start with. Hello! Think of me a trial run, you know? See how it goes!”
  • “Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? they ask. Really? Why don’t YOU get a drink with Mitch McConnell?”

Roll it.

And then, ’twas Team Coco’s turn. O’Brien had delivered the keynote speech at the WHCD back in 1995, when people weren’t calling it a “nerdprom” because only nerds watched the event or knew what CSPAN was back then. Even with it being the Clinton years.

At any rate.

O’Brien began by noting his similarities with President Obama: A Harvard degree, two children.

And jokes! Sorry, Hilton Hotels.

  • “As you all know, the president is hard at work creating jobs. Since he was first elected, the number of popes has doubled and the number of Tonight Show hosts has tripled. Congratulations!”
  • “If any of you are live-Tweeting this event, please use the hashtag #incapableoflivinginthemoment.”
  • “Incidentally, you may not know this, but Wayne LaPierre is merely the executive vice president of the NRA. Which begs the question: How freaking crazy do you have to be to be the actual president of the NRA?”
  • “The guys from Duck Dynasty are here. Which can mean only one thing: The guys from Storage Wars said no.”
  • “A lot has changed since then (1995, when Conan last spoke here). Today you can get real-time information on world events from something small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Back in ’95, we called that George Stephanopoulos.”
  • “No offense, Mr. President. I do congratulate you on your victory. But as a late-night comedian, I was kinda pulling for the rich guy whose horse danced in the Olympics.”
  • “I see The Huffington Post has a table. Yeah! Which has me wondering, if you’re here, who’s covering Miley Cyrus’ latest nip slip? Who’s assembling today’s Top 25 Yogurt-Related Tweets? Seven Mistakes You’re Making With Bacon. That’s a real one and you should be ashamed of yourselves!”
  • “Unfortunately, Matt Drudge couldn’t make it. He had a prior commitment to teach a Web design class in 1997.”
  • “The print media are here for two very good reasons: Food and shelter.” “You know, some people say that print media is dying. But I don’t believe it. And neither does my blacksmith.”
  • “CNN’s ratings are so bad, now when the logo comes up, James Earl Jones’s voice goes, ‘You’re watching CNN?!? What the hell?”
  • “President Obama and (House Speaker) John Boehner are kind of like a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow. In theory, they understand each other’s positions, but deep down, you know nothing’s ever gonna happen.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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