Monday, May 11, 2009
Comedian Barack Obama
President Barack Obama did his stand-up comedy routine Saturday night at the White House Correspondent's Association dinner, a black-tie affair attended by a mix of politicians, celebrities and journalists. Not only does he deliver a good speech, but he's got great comedic timing. He targeted everyone from Joe Biden to Timothy Geithner, so he wasn't afraid of poking fun at his own Administration, in power just over 100 days. "I believe my next hundred days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days," he joked. "And on my 73rd day, I'll rest." He said his Administration has helped in "bringing in fresh, young faces, like Arlen Specter". He was referring to the 79-year-old former Republican Pennsylvania senator who switched parties last month. Obama then went after the Republicans. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney couldn't attend the dinner, Obama joked, because he was busy writing his memoir "How To Shoot Friends and Interrogate People." The president was a tough act to follow. But comic Wanda Sykes came up next and poked fun at Obama for giving the Queen of England an iPhone during a recent visit. "What are you going to give the Pope, a Bluetooth," she joked. But Republicans are enraged, saying she crossed the line when she took aim at Rush Limbaugh. In a joke about 9/11 she said: "Maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight." She also compared him to Osama bin Laden because Limbaugh said he hopes the country fails under the Obama Administration. She went on: "Rush Limbaugh - I hope the country fails. I hope his kidneys fail, how about that?" OK, maybe a little over the line, but the Republicans have absolutely no sense of humor. George Bush was funny, but he wasn't trying. President Obama can deliver the laughs, then two days later give a speech about Health Care Reform, which is what he did earlier today. Health Care Reform is a serious issue, and Obama was taken seriously. But for one night over the weekend, he gave Don Rickles a run for his money. Far from diminishing his stature as a serious and literate orator, when Obama turns comedian he has a way of humanizing himself. He doesn't always take himself seriously, and unlike Wanda Sykes, his humor doesn't go into that gray area of distastefulness. That's not to say that Ms. Sykes wasn't funny. She was. But she doesn't have to follow up her comedy with a sober assessment of health care and how it is draining our economy. President Obama can talk about anything and he gets our attention. Next up: the auto industry, the bank bailouts, two wars, the environment, education reform, immigration, homeland security, transportation infrastructure, balancing the budget, and the Jay Leno Show.