White House Correspondents’ Dinner

The annual White House Correspondents’ dinner is always a great study in roast-style humor  It’s an opportunity for the President to use self-deprecation and to review the year with humor.

This year’s dinner was Saturday evening, April 27, 2013.  Conan O’Brien was the featured humor professional.  And the President was a big hit asusual.  Past dinners have made the sitting president look good, whether they be Democrat or Republican.

Here are some thoughts on President Obama’s speech.

  1.  The theme of his speech was “My Second Term.”

  2.  It was filled with self-deprecation, although there was no shortage of zingers aimed at his opponents.

  3.  He demonstrated the power of the picture.  Many of his jokes were carried by photographs which had either been doctored or posed.  When doing photo humor you have several options.
  – Using actual photos and recaptioning them to fit your needs.
  – Photo-shopping pictures to fit a joke.
  – Posed photos with a look-alike actor.
  – Posed photos with the actual guest of honor.  For example, an Obama-Lincoln-type film parody was shot with Obama playing himself in the “future” Spielberg movie titled Obama. 

  4.  In a typical roast format, Obama threw in some lines targeted at Conan O’Brien.  When you’re given the power to throw lines, you are a fair target to receive them as well.

  5.  My favorite Obama line was when he brought up his future Presidential Library:  “Some have suggested we put it in my birthplace.  But I’d rather keep it in the United States.”  Poking fun at his own expense.   Great line.

  6.  The President closed his speech with serious comments about the press, the Boston, West Texas, and mid-West flood survivors and heroes.  He did that without humor and included a call to action.  “All of us…we can do better.”

Click here to watch the Obama speech.

Also speaking at the dinner was Conan O’Brien.  As a guest speaker, he would have permission to speak on topics which might be off limit to the President, and he did. 

  – Conan also used the power of the photograph.
  – He used some self-deprecation, but not as much as the President used.
  – My favorite joke referring to the fact that Obama has added jobs:  “The number of popes has doubled.  And the number of tonight-show hosts has tripled.”
  – He also mentioned the tragedies, using one light joke. “Don’t pick on a city where 9 people out of ten are related to a cop.”  And then he closed with a photo piece targeted at celebrity look-alikes of big-shots in government.  The goal was to leave the audience on a laugh line.

Click here to watch the O’Brien speech.