The above video, if you haven’t already seen it, is from Saturday’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner. It is funny, and at the same time a bit surprising and disorienting in that it basically wrangles the President of the United States into a sketch, not unlike how Saturday Night Live might drop Alec Baldwin or Justin Timberlake into an unbilled cameo.
I can’t quite let go of my old school tendencies on this one, however. I remember back in high school doing a play and the drama teacher himself took a lead role in the production. The lesson was you don’t play with the folks further down on the food chain–it just devalues your brand. We didn’t call it that then, however it was more like, “Geez, what a Lame-O.”
Conan O’Brien hosted the event and tackled it like he was shot out of a cannon. His rat-tat-tat joke approach was, somewhat ironically, as if somebody poured six Jolt Colas into Jay Leno. Some funny lines though, check him out here.
Among my favourites: “If any of you are live tweeting this event, please use the hashtag, #incapableoflivinginthemoment.” There were big shots against Mitt Romney, the NRA, the Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN (“They replaced Larry King with one of the scheming footmen from Downton Abby“), PBS, NPR, print media in general (“The print media are here for two very important reasons: food and shelter.”) and Bill O’Reilly. His analogy that the mostly media audience was not unlike a high school cafeteria (“NPR are like the kids with peanut allergies”) was hilarious.
Interesting to compare O’Brien’s more restrained, respectful approach 18 years earlier at the same event and the set he performed Saturday. In less than a generation, this thing has gone from a hot ticket to a cool, exclusive, command performance to the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner.

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