Best and worst jokes from the weekend’s big dinner!

WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2013

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”?

“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.”
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.

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.

34 comments:

  1. 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.

    I agree. It's a powerful insult. Burning books is a very bad thing. Bachman has never burned books nor suggested such an action. For all of Bush's failures, he didn't insult Dems this way. He was always polite. I think his graciousness helped him get essential Democratic support for tax cuts and the war in Iraq.

    It's interesting that Dowd didn't note the possible connection between Obama's nasty insult of a Republican and Obama's failure to get Republican support for his bills. I would guess that being insulted by the President might deter Republicans from cooperating with him.

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    1. You're kidding, right?

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    2. You have to understand the "reality" that David has constructed for himself and chooses to live in.

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    3. That's not altogether unreasonable. It's not that elected Republicans would be so motivated, but you can be sure their constituencies do react to liberals' dopey broad-brush insults and that's why background checks fail to pass Congress. Something Bob consistently points out here, but Our Tribe can't resist boosting its self-esteem even at the cost of background checks.

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  2. I got a kick out of the president's joke about not being the strapping young Muslim Socialist that he used to be.

    Both memes are assinine, but I had never noticed how contradictory they are.

    I like light-heartedness that shows that you don't take yourself or your critics too seriously.

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    1. "I like light-heartedness that shows that you don't take yourself or your critics too seriously."

      Good. Then you should like this.

      "You don't have to worry about me.

      F couldn't pick me out in a police lineup... and yet she sums me up PERFECTLY.

      It's so deliciously scary!

      The "lurking genius" Gérard Depardieu IS my spiritual animal.

      F, if ADG won't have you, I'll marry you in a minute!

      It would work out perfectly. We could participate in menage o trois a plenty with ADG.

      Before we even got started, I'd be guaranteed to fall asleep after my requisite 50 minute rant on movie industry capitalist whores and between second and third bottle of $300 wine.

      You'd be in clover, honey!"

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  3. To the extent that we take David in Ca seriously, you might recall some of the provincial nastiness W revealed in the debates with Kerry (not made in jest) about how "he knew these people" that being, eastern liberals, and in a fairly familiar Texas fashion, he was patronizing and dismissive. I tend to think W was a fairly nice guy on balance, but his manners were no model for anyone. Michelle Bachman, poor thing, does not deserve one liners, She deserves to be censored for repeated lying about the President on the basis of "stuff that's on the internet." She's pathetic, and so is David in Ca.
    I sense everyone is pretty damn sick of the Correspondence Dinner and it now comes off more than ever as a bunch of out of touch jerks yucking it up as The Country burns. Bob may like the jokes about McConnell, but let one of our "tribe" speak honestly about what asshats like David in Ca are doing to the Country and he will wet his pants about how "we are just like them." As Kevin Drum says "Welcome to Hell."

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    1. You're an internet archetype.

      You wouldn't be happy unless every utterance on earth ended with you saying. "I'm Greg, and I approve of this message."

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    2. Actually, Greg, I don't recall the Bush nastiness that you refer to. The words, "He knew these people" don't seem as harsh as (hypothetically) saying, "John Kerry is a book-burner." Can you provide us with the text of he insulting things Bush allegedly said?

      BTW I also don't recall Bush calling Kerry an "asshat" or saying that Kerry will "wet his pants". If Greg is an example of liberal graciousness, I rest my case.

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    3. Maybe you're confusing Greg with me. I'm the one who laughs at Conservatives when they say they'll protect us from the big bad terrorists. Yeah, right. The same group that calls for a fainting couch every time someone makes a joke about them.

      BTW, saying Conservatives are stupid when it comes to economics isn't mean. It's truthful.

      Berto

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    4. It's not surprising you can't recall how rude W could be, David in Ca, he was seldom called out on anything before Katrina by anyone. But let's state the obvious, among the other things your tribe has destroyed in the last twenty years in basic civility. Not only through tastemakers like Limbaugh and Coulter, but actual office holders like Bachman. Again, She should be disciplined by The House for her actions, not lightly teased at dinners.
      If Bob were to be truly honest about the situation, his "this is never going to change" rant would address what he actually knows is the problem: it does not matter if you insult or reason with the likes of David in Ca, he's a terrible person who's screwing up the Country, at this point basically for spite. The only thing we can do is wait for these people to die off, and who knows, in the end that might save us.

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    5. saying Conservatives are stupid when it comes to economics isn't mean. It's truthful.

      Berto, this is the all too typical liberal attitude. The other side isn't just wrong; we're bad. In this case, you say we're stupid. Greg says I'm a terrible person who's screwing up the Country, at this point basically for spite. He looks forward to my death.

      Why can't you just say we have a difference of opinion?

      I don't know whether Greg or Berto is an economist. If not, then their economic opinions come from their faith in economists. Their faith says that Krugman is right, rather than, say, Milton Friedman. So, for them, this is more or less a faith-based or religious argument. "My religion is the right one. If you disagree with it, you're stupid or evil."

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    6. This is where it gets really nasty. The poor put-upon rich guy slinks behind the "he said, she said" construct to keep from discussing the facts on the ground. No, David, this is not a simple right or wrong question. These are political policy decisions that help or hurt many different groups in this nation. Whatever rational you put on it, the results are clear, the patterns of government spending that the "fiscal conservatives" argue for will not help us to get closer to full employment, rather they will help the rich ("job makers"). The job makers want high unemployment because it allow them to make jobs cheaper.

      These are not religious questions. There are certain facts about the state of our economy right now. Funneling resources to the job makers would be a productive thing to do if there were a dearth of capital. But that is not the case. Right now we have a lack of demand. Through work programs, the government can increase that demand, and make our economy more robust.

      Some try to pretend they are noble by saying that the debt burden might become so onerous that we should not do what is obvious for the current conditions. What would one call a course of action that is both self-serving and brings pain to others?


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    7. As Deborah Stone writes in her book “Policy Paradox”: “In analyzing any policy reform, therefore, remember to ask the fundamental democratic question: How does it incorporate or exclude the voices of people affected by the policy?”

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    8. DinC,
      Bullshit! This is about "faith" in the economic policies pushed by my side. It's about the track record for Conservative economic policy that goes back 40+ years? They have been a disaster for the public in general, though a boon to the few politically connected.
      As others have pointed out, this isn't just about rooting for ones "team", like it's baseball and you're a Yankee fan and I'm a Giants fan. People are affected by the results.
      For just one example, our "team" won the debate on the Iraq Clusterfuck. Hooray!
      Too bad 400+ American soldiers had to die, 100K+ Iraqis had to die, and 2.2 million Iraqis had to flee their country.
      Is your heart in the right place? Maybe. But your head certainly isn't.

      Berto

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    9. Oops.
      "...isn't about faith" and "your team won".

      You pray for civility, if you'd like.
      I'll pray for the dead, the wounded, and the displaced caused by your "team's win".

      Berto

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    10. Well, fine, you pray for them. While you're praying, you can thank God for the young girl who now may attend school. The journalist who may now write the story he wishes, the family no longer persecuted by political henchmen.

      Good grief, yes, pray! Pray that the suffering is repaid in freedom, that old alliances die, and better ones are built, and that an opportunity is not lost in a tide of old hatreds and old dogma.

      While you're at it, pray all these things for us as well.

      Such a simple and good gesture may bring the hope, the sense of communion, and the pliancy you so desperately need.

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    11. CeceliaMc, you have such pretty prose. It is so sad that with that gift you protray a cynical wealth grab sold to the public with lies and implemented with savagery, as a freedom-loving gift to people in need.

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    12. Nope, that's your black or white, ying or yang, simplistic inner gecko talking.

      I'm trying to relate a truism of maturity and outlook that could help you move beyond your altar to anger and loathing.

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    13. Good point, Cecelia. Praying for those things would have been just as productive before invading Iraq, as it is now. Without the killing and maiming of innocents and $2 Trillion wasted doing it, of course.

      Berto

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    14. And don't leave out the part where it might help you exchange bitterness for hope.

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    15. Looking down on us with such a superior attitude has a huge amount of bitterness within it.

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    16. I didn't realize shrugging off the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people makes one a better person. Thanks for that teaching moment.

      Berto

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    17. You seem young and there's still a chance that you won't come to view loathing as a means/utility.

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    18. You, on the other hand, seem so self-enamored, that you will never change your sneering condescension.

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    19. Surely there are bruised and battered masochists who are less determined to feel demeaned than you.

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    20. Although allowing alliteration almost always alleviates alienation, please stop being so civil and respectful to me!

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    21. Next you'll be pleading for me to make you beg harder.

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  4. Roberto EstradaMay 1, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I found Obama's jokes to be best described as "bitchy." I'm also yawning from the never-ending assault on Dowd. Does she need to think just like Bob Somerby to be a human being? Has he ever given her credit for anything? How about opposing the Iraq War when other NYT columnists were cheering it on? I remember Somerby's stupid post awhile back where he said he'd have to check to see if Dowd ever called out Condi Rice and I thought at the time, "How can he critique Dowd's work and not remember all the times she went after Rice?" His personal vendetta with Maureen Dowd has become boring.

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    1. Color you bored and bitchy.

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    2. Mo, is that you Mo?

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