The social event of every year in Washington is the gigantic Dinner and Roast held at The Washington Hilton (the largest dining area and most easily secured hotel in D.C.)
To the best of my knowledge, this is a purely American event – a roast both of and by the head of a country before a large audience and broadcast live.
Where else but America?
This year, Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore is hosting what has been nicknamed Nerd Prom.
The night when Washington celebrates itself, “someone has to do it,” President Obama said at a previous Dinner.
Exotic Food, Exotic Audience
The food is fairly exotic, as is the audience, which features the top DC and Hollywood elite.
The tickets which are very difficult to get, run $300 per person or $3,000 per table which isn’t that outrageous for a five star meal at the Hilton with entertainment by the President. Also, this is actually a fundraiser for the journalist scholarship program of the Correspondents’ Association.
I should probably mention that I never attended, despite being a Washington columnist for 25 years because I don’t cover the President, but I belong to the National Press Club (Pennsylvania Ave. two blocks over from the White House) and every year we have our own party where we watch the dinner on TV.
The Dinner used to focus on music, with guests such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Irving Berlin, but Mark Russell turned things to the funny side in 1983 and the theme never looked back.
President Obama is expected to take a real swing for the bleachers in this, his final year in the Presidency, as part of what many see as his Victory Tour after an Historic 7+ years in office.
Obama has had more of an adversarial relationship with cable news than any earlier President.
One year, the President said of CNN “it’s nice to see that they cover all sides of an issue, just in case one of them is right.”
And of Fox News “They’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to suggest Hillary was born in Kenya.”
Prior to the Dinner, Larry Wilmore said Obama has “released the blacken (kraken).”
2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Jokes
This year President Obama Said:
“The end of the Republic has never looked better. I was a little late tonight, I was running on CPT (colored people time),” which stands for jokes that white people should not make.”
“If this material works well tonight I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year.”
“Next year someone else will be standing at this spot and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”
“Look at me now, I’m gray, grizzled, just waiting for my death panel.”
“Even reporters are leaving … Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.”
“We have the bright new face of the Democratic party here tonight, Bernie Sanders!”
He also gave out a shout to Helen Mirren who said she “is just awesome.”
Some of the President’s jokes fell rather flat, some were downright hilarious, and a number were very inside.
What Happened To Larry Wilmore?
Unfortunately Larry Wilmore died a horrible, horrible death for the first five minutes.. Then again, over, and over, and over, and over.
He got what was probably his biggest laugh (about 1/8th of the audience) when he said, “Morning Joe has their head so far up Trump’s ass they bumped into Chris Christie.”
Some commentators said he was great and did it with grace.
Others agreed with me that the President was much funnier.