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Daniel Kurtzman

Obama Shines at White House Correspondents' Dinner; Leno Bombs

By May 2, 2010

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Obama Kills at White House Correspondents' Dinner President Obama and Jay Leno jockeyed for laughs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in a battle of comedic talents that left Leno looking like an amateur hack.

Obama had the crowd of journalists, politicos, and celebrities rolling as he hurled zingers at the GOP, birthers, and Sarah Palin, while also poking fun at himself. (Watch the video and read the transcript)

Leno's comedy routine, by contrast, was a train wreck. More on that below, but first, here are some of Obama's best one-liners from the night:

On Joe Biden: "I wasn't sure I should actually come tonight. Biden talked me into it. He leaned over to me and said, 'Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner, this is a big BLEEP-ing meal.'"

On his approval ratings: "It's been quite a year since I've spoken here last. Lots of ups, lots of downs, except for my approval ratings, which have just gone down. But that's politics, it doesn't bother me. Besides, I happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth."

Obama Trades Jokes With Leno at White House Correspondents' Dinner On Jay Leno: "Though I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight. Great to see you Jay. I'm also glad that I'm speaking first. We've all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno's."

On his birth certificate: "There a few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate."

On the White House party crashers: "Odds are that the Salahis are here. There haven't been people that were more unwelcomed to the party since Charlie Crist." (Florida Gov. Crist recently left the Republican party to run for the Senate as an independent).

On the Jonas Brothers: "The Jonas Brothers are here, they're out there somewhere. Sasha annd Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking?"

On his popularity: "They say I'm popular on Twitter and Facebook. Or as Sarah Palin says, the 'socialized media.'"

On his former opponent: "John McCain couldn't make it. He said he had never identified himself as a maverick. We all know what happens in Arizona when you don't have ID. Adios, amigos."

On Eric Massa (the congressman who resigned amid allegations of groping staffers): "You know what really tickles me? Eric Massa. Apparently, Eric claimed that Rahm Emanuel came up to him in the House locker room, stark naked, screaming obscenities at him. To which I say, welcome to my world.''

Obama's comedy act wasn't quite the home run he hit last year, but it was still a standout performance, and rates as one of the better presidential stand-up acts from recent years.

Jay Leno Bombs With Painful Comedy Routine

Obama vs. Leno at White House Correspondents' Dinner Leno followed Obama as the evening's comic headliner, but the laughs were few and far between. Many of his jokes landed with a thud, and there were even a few groans from the crowd. (Watch video)

Leno did, however, have one good comic riff:
"As you know, a lot of Republicans couldn't be here tonight because it is $1 drink night at the bondage clubs."

"Michael Steele is here. Where's Michael? This has got to be pretty boring entertainment for you isn't it? This has got to be pretty boring entertainment for you, isn't it? I know what you guys are used to. That was my favorite story: Republicans in a lesbian bondage club. Republicans don't want lesbians marrying, but they do like to watch them tie the knot."

"Washington is a very scary place. Between Republicans going to bondage clubs, and the SEC looking at porn, I can't wait to get back to Hollywood -- somewhere wholesome, where people have values."
Most of Leno's other jokes were stale and predictable -- even more so than a typical Leno monologue.

On the challenges facing Obama: "Some of you on the news have mentioned the president's been getting a little gray since taking office. But he's had his fare share of stress. Tough economy, two wars, health care fight, Iran, North Korea, his mother-in-law moving in with him."

On comedy in the Obama era: "When you were elected, little worried the comedy well at the White House had dried up, so thank you for picking Joe Biden."

On critics describing Obama as "cold and aloof": "I have never found him that way. He loves to socialize -- health care, car companies."

On the First Lady: "Michelle Obama has made child obesity one of her causes...She has started a more intense program. It's called 'Leave No Child With A Bigger Behind.'"

On Sarah Palin: There's talk now that this oil slick could end up being bigger than that huge disaster they had up in Alaska." Here it comes..."Really? Bigger than Sarah Palin?"

On Obama's inability to throw a decent pitch at the Washington National home opener: "He had just come from an interview on MSNBC, and he was used to softballs."

On Arizona: "I got stuck behind the Arizona congressional delegation, luckily all their papers were in order so it wasn't too much of a problem."

Failing to impress the crowd as he raced through his routine, Leno looked up from his cue cards at one point and said, "I'm going to get fired again." Toward the end, amid a growing chorus of crickets, he lamented, "Ooh, this a tough room."

Most people in the room, meanwhile, probably had the same thought on their minds: Where's Conan when you need him?

Watch the Video: Obama vs. Leno at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

See Also:
Funniest Obama Quotes of All Time
The 5 Best Comedy Routines From Recent White House Press Dinners

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(Photos by Getty Images)


May 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(1) call me Roy says:

Apparently the comedy lines delivered by Obama were a hit last night at White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I wish I could have been to see the audience laughing when the jokes started about ‘Franklin Graham being disinvited by the army to speak at a Pentagon event for the National Day of Prayer.’ I bet that was a hoot? Oh that’s right I forgot, most of America’s wonderful mass-media are Godless Anointed One worshippers, aren’t they? I’m sure the champagne keep flowing.

May 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm
(2) Jake says:

Very funny – well delivered. Obama’s looking good!

May 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm
(3) FloridaPete says:

Obama killed it! Wow, he took some real risks with this material and delivered it with such great spirit and timing.

May 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm
(4) Reality Check says:

Not surprising, the libs are falling all over themselves telling each other just how funny Obama was Saturday night. A teleprompter, a script written by the writers from the Daily Show (true), and a roomful of left-wing loyalists lapping up every word Obama read off, yep, that’s hysterical. And how classless for Obama to still be taking shots at McCain. Obama is an empty suit, self-absorbed, embarrassment. Let’s see how loud the left is laughing come election day.

May 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm
(5) Mark says:

Reality Check, all you guys can do is make up lies and conspiracy theories, and repeatedly say, “Just you wait until Election Day!” Get a life, man – or at least come up with something useful.

May 7, 2010 at 9:04 am
(6) LestWeThink says:

Typical how conservatives can’t put their Obama/liberal hatred aside for one moment to acknowledge that the president did well. Of course he didn’t write the jokes(they never do), but he delivered them well. And yes he used a teleprompter just like previous presidents at this event.

What’s truly funny is how a small group of TV pundits and talk radio hosts have made themselves very, very rich pretending they represent the interests of “the people” while actually promoting an agenda to make Plutocrats even more rich and powerful. And they get their followers to parrot their attack lines in comment sections all over the Internet.

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