WATCH: President Obama Outshines Jimmy Kimmel at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Do we laugh at the President because he's funny — or because he's the President and we have to?

  • Share
  • Read Later

Whenever President Obama slips briefly out of his political persona and into his comedic alter ago, do we just laugh because, you know, he’s the President and we have to? Or is the Commander in Chief really this funny?

(PHOTOS: The 98th Annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner)

At Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Obama showed that, yes, he really is that funny. So funny, in fact, that his good-natured but still quip-riddled remarks outshone those of the evening’s host, comedian Jimmy Kimmel. Perhaps we hold Kimmel to a slightly higher standard since he gets paid for this stuff, whereas the President gets paid to run the country, and thus any humor he produces is gratis. That’s not to say Kimmel bombed — he earned his share of laughs and had a few notable quips himself, particularly toward the beginning of his shtick.

(MORE: Read the Full Transcript of Obama’s Speech)

The President focused, not surprisingly, on the still-ripe-for-wisecracks Secret Service scandal, the upcoming election and how much has changed throughout his four years in office, all with a healthy dose of humility and self-deprecation. “Four years ago, I looked like this,” he said, gesturing to a photo of his fresh and sprightly self circa 2008. “Today, I look like this,” he said, as an image of his notably wearier (and grayer) self flashed on the screen. “And four years from now, I will look like this.” Cue photo of Morgan Freeman. Here are some of his other memorable quips:

On his relationship with Hillary Clinton:

“Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.”

On news aggregation:

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the Huffington Post on their Pulitzer Prize. You deserve it, Arianna. There’s no one else out there linking to the kinds of hard-hitting journalism that HuffPo is linking to every single day.”

(MORE: Obama’s Search for a Slogan)

On his opponent Mitt Romney and The Hunger Games:

“I guess Governor Romney is feeling pretty good about things because he took a few hours off the other day to see The Hunger Games. It’s a movie about people who court wealthy sponsors and then brutally savage each other until only one contestant is left standing. I’m sure this was a really good change of pace for him. I have not seen The Hunger Games — not enough class warfare for me.”

On a potential second term:

“In my first term, I sang Al Green; in my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy. In my first term, we ended the war in Iraq; in my second term, I will win the war on Christmas. In my first term, we repealed the policy known as ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’; in my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as, ‘It’s raining men.’ In my first term, we passed health care reform; in my second term, I guess I’ll pass it again.”

(PHOTOS: Obama’s State of the Union in Pictures)

President Obama closed on a more serious note, taking a moment to honor recently deceased journalists Anthony Shadid of the New York Times and Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times. He then commended the nation’s journalists — about half of whom, it seems, were in the audience — for helping “protect our freedom, our democracy and our way of life.” But, of course, the Funnyman in Chief wedged in one more quip before exiting the stage: “I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”

Kimmel soon took the stage, starting off strong with some standard jabs at the President. Some of his jokes got a rather mixed response: attacks on high-profile Republicans like Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich got polite laughs, as did his decision to equate Kim Kardashian with Osama bin Laden (yes, that happened). He did fling some zingers, of course, and here are some of the best:

On President Obama’s chance at re-election:

“You know, there’s a term for guys like President Obama. Probably not two terms.”

On President Obama’s ears:

“Mr. President, I know you won’t be able to laugh at any of my jokes about the Secret Service, so cover your ears, if that’s physically possible.”

(MORE: Halloween Humor: Did Jimmy Kimmel Go Too Far Encouraging Parents to Deceive their Kids?)

On Rupert Murdoch:

“Is the Fox table laughing, or did Rupert Murdoch hack all my jokes already?”

On the 2012 GOP candidates:

“Rick Santorum is out. It just wasn’t Rick’s year. Rick’s year is 1954.”

(PHOTOS: A History of White House Dinners)


MORE: The Last Days of Osama bin Laden

VIDEO: Jimmy Kimmel Chokes Up During His Tribute to Uncle Frank