Obama, O’Brien both score: We’re sorry to return to Maureen Dowd, but we were struck by the joke she chose to belittle in this morning’s column:
DOWD (5/1/13): How can the president star in a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner satirical film pretending to be Daniel Day-Lewis playing Barack Obama in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Obama,” and not have absorbed the lessons of “Lincoln”?Classic Dowd! Obama and Conan both had some very good jokes at the dinner. But we’d say the joke at which the columnist sniffed may have been the best of the night.
“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress,” he said in an alleged joke at the dinner Saturday night. “Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell.”
Reason: The joke had so little content. The McConnell joke got a very long laugh—and if you were laughing, it meant that you got the joke without Obama having to state or explain its meaning or its point.
Plainly, everyone agrees: It would be no fun to have a drink with McConnell! It’s rare that a joke connects so well with so little being explained.
On the flip side, we were struck by Digby’s choice of a favorite joke. These are all matters of preference, of course. But here’s what the Digster preferred:
DIGBY (4/29/13): The president was quite funny though. I think he has a post-presidency career ahead of him as a comedian if he wants it. The material was good and he delivered it well. (I especially enjoyed the Michelle Bachman book burning joke.)We agree—Obama is very good in this format. But we thought the Bachman joke was one of his weakest because it included so much information. It was less a joke than an insult—and an insult doesn’t become a joke until you make it funny.
As she continued, Digby cited one of Conan’s chunks. We share her general view:
DIGBY: I also enjoyed Conan’s high school cafeteria joke: “Fox is the jocks. MSNBC is the nerds. The bloggers are the goths. NPR is the table for kids with peanut allergies. Al Jazeera is the weird foreign exchange student nobody talks to. And print media, I didn’t forget you. You’re the poor kid who died sophomore year in a car crash. But cheer up, we dedicated the yearbook to you!”We were struck by the very large laugh he got on the NPR line. It’s always surprising to see which jokes a particular audience reacts to.
Our favorite joke of the night may have been Conan’s first about Wayne LaPierre: “Here’s a fun fact about tonight’s food. Everything you ate tonight was personally shot by Wayne LaPierre.”
We’d have to say Conan did remarkably well, although he went slightly too long. It’s hard to follow a president at an event like that, especially one who has good “alleged jokes” and is good at letting them fly.
Go ahead! Ask us about the time we had to follow President Clinton at a dinner! You can ask us, but we’ll never tell. As you know, we never discuss our joint appearances with sitting American presidents.
Also strong by Conan: This also got a long laugh:
"But my prior experience has taught me how these dinners work. If the president laughs, everyone laughs. And if the Fox News table laughs, a litle girl just fell off her bike."
The true things are always the funniest. Or so the experts allege.