President dishes it out at correspondents’ dinner
WASHINGTON — The final years of the Obama administration provided the backdrop for laughs at the annual White House Correspondents’ Assn. dinner, with the president flashing a little anger and poking fun at Republicans, and entertainer Cecily Strong taking some pointed jabs at the commander in chief.
“‘Saturday Night Live’ got criticized this year for making fun of ISIS,” said Strong, a cast member of the NBC comedy show. “Now I think that’s unfair. I mean, if anyone is guilty of taking ISIS too lightly it’s ... umm, you know,” she continued, nodding at the president.
The dinner has become one of Washington’s highestprofile events, bringing together power players, journalists and some big Hollywood names for some laughs. And President Obama has enjoyed using what his aides call the “State of the Union of jokes” to tweak the media and the GOP.
“A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime. Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime,” he said.
“Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now that’s a legacy!” he said. “Lincoln, Washington — they didn’t do that.”
Obama and Strong also poked fun at the large cast of Republicans making presidential runs, and at the dominant front-runner status of Democratic contender Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Feels right to have a woman follow President Obama, doesn’t it?” Strong said as she started her bit, which was after Obama’s.
Strong seemed unfazed by the pressure of going on after him. After joking about recent Secret Service problems, she urged the audience to give the agency the benefit of the doubt. “They’re the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot,” she said.
Later, Strong noted Obama’s approval rating was at 48%, but his gray hair was at 85%. “Your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police,” she said, a joke the president seemed to enjoy far more than the former.
Teasing the president while discussing their shared Chicago roots, Strong joked that the two used to shoot hoops together. “I’d lace up a pair of Jordans; he’d slip on a pair of my mom’s jeans. We would just miss 3-pointers until sundown when, of course, we’d have to stop and pray to Mecca,” she said.
The standout moment came at the end of Obama’s act, when Keegan-Michael Key of Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” came out to act as his “anger translator.”
After coolly delivering some lines that Key embellished, Obama grew more heated while discussing climate change and the GOP’s unwillingness to address it.
“Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate!” Obama said, his voice rising.
Key interjected: “OK, Mr. President. OK, I think they’ve got it, bro.”
But Obama continued: “It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, shortsighted, irresponsible bull —”
“All due respect, sir, you don’t need an anger translator,” Key interrupted. “You need counseling.”