I get it. I’d like to say I don’t but I do. The talk show pundits on a slow news week are filling time replaying President Obama’s Correspondent’s Dinner jokes and rating his "performance". He’s been getting everything from A pluses to C’s depending on what criteria the pundits use for rating him. This is about as relevant as a best and worst dressed debate comparing the actresses invited to "glam up" the event.
Of course it’s doubtful Obama himself penned any of the jokes, in fact I’d hope he has far more important things to do. Most of the jokes depended on his delivery but even the best timing won’t make a mediocre joke laugh out loud funny.
In fact, he got mostly polite chuckles and some slightly forced smiles. He’s no Jerry Seinfeld or Robin Williams, and who would want him to be?
Some stand-up jokes depend on delivery to be knee slappingly hilarious. Most of the best though are funny when written too. I thought the only Obama joke* that worked well on paper is the one about Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, known for his use of profanity:
Now, speaking — when I think about children obviously I think about Michelle and it reminds me that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the audience. (Applause.) I do have to say, though, that this is a tough holiday for Rahm Emanuel because he’s not used to saying the word "day" after "mother." (Laughter.) That’s true. (Laughter.)
Here’s the transcript of Obama’s entire performance. See how funny you think it is in print.
What did Obama prove, if anything, by his (choose one: admirable or adequate) performance as a stand up comedian who delivers jokes written by professionals?
Not a damn thing.
What was the funniest thing about the dinner?
I think it was that Todd Palin attended in place of his wife, Sarah Palin, looking about as out of place and clueless as to what was appropriate to laugh at as a priest at a Kathy Griffin show.
* I thought the Wanda Syke’s funniest joke on paper wouldn’t be the off color joke about Sarah Palin’s pulling out at the last minute, but her joke about advising her children to accept a ride from a stranger over one from Dick Cheney.