Nerd Prom: The Highs and Lows of the White House Correspondents Dinner

If it’s spring, it must be prom season. And, if you’re watching CSPAN on a Saturday night, it must be nerd prom, a.k.a. the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Some years are better (Seth Meyers roasting birther Donald Trump in 2011 while Zero Dark Thirty was happening in real time, as we would find out later) than others (Jimmy Kimmel last year… enough said). Here are the highs and lows of Nerd Prom 2013 — from Coco, to Daniel Day Lewis to… breastfeeding.

High: President Obama’s Opening Line

Entering to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” (featuring Snoop Dog, er, Lion, T-Pain and conservative bete noir Ludacris), President Obama set the tone for his time at the podium. “How do you like my new entrance music? Rush Limbaugh warned you about this second term, baby. We’re changing things around here a little bit.” Anytime you start out the night by making fun of conservative talk radio’s fear of “the rap music,” you’re off to a good start.

Low: President of the White House Correspondents Association Ed Henry’s Breast Feeding Riff

There are some things men should just shy away from making jokes about. Anything having to do with women’s bodies is a good place to start. In one of the evening’s more bizarre and distasteful moments, Ed Henry went on a misguided tangent in his remarks about Fox News helping to implement Obama Care (Henry is an employee of Fox News) by finding a space to turn into a breastfeeding room in the White House press offices as stated by the health care law. Imagine your uncle talking about your first period at a family reunion and you’ll experience the same level of creeped out everyone watching did.

High: House of Cards

The mix of real Washington insiders and cast members from Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards earned the most laugh out loud moments of the night among the guests in the Hilton ballroom. Cutting, but not too cutting, the fake episode of the hit show reminded us how good Spacey is when he’s bad.

Low: The Washington D.C. Hilton

Really WHCA, you HAVE to have this dinner at the Hilton every year? I hate to sound like a snob but…come on, a Hilton? ACTUAL PROMS are held at better hotels. Plus, we just don’t like thinking that Paris Hilton is some how benefiting from this…she is the antithesis of nerd prom.

High: President Obama Jokes About Satan (and it totally worked!)

Remember the History Channel Antichrist that some people thought looked a little too much like a certain leader of the free world? We’d forgotten too, but President Obama got the last laugh. “The History Channel is not here. I guess they were embarrassed about the whole Obama-is-a-devil thing,” he said. “Of course, that never kept Fox News from showing up. They thought that comparison was not fair … to Satan.” Runner up best line by the President: “I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.” Zing, Mr. President, Zing.

Low: Bill O’Reilly’s Face

You knew you were on camera; you couldn’t even attempt to crack a smile, Mr. Falafel? Not even once? The entire Fox News table needs to take a cue from Comedy Central roastees at these dinners and politely feign laughter and then bitch about it later at the after party.

High: Coco’s Cool Tonight Show Humor

Conan O’Brien put any jokes about his short tenure at the Tonight Show to rest with the following: “The president is hard at work creating jobs. Since he was first elected, the number of popes has doubled. The number of Tonight Show hosts has tripled. Congratulations.” And congratulations to you, Conan, way to turn that pain into art!

Low: Duck Dynasty

If any A&E celebrities were going to attend this event I was hoping for either Dog the Bounty Hunter, a couple of past Intervention participants (just keep them away from the bar) or the cast of Bates Motel. I’m just not into these Duck Dynasty people. The title of the show had me hoping it was going to be an all water fowl remake of the ’80s nighttime soap Dynasty and I’ve been let down ever since.

High: Daniel Day Lewis is Obama…is…Daniel Day Lewis

The hysterical faux Spielberg biopic has Daniel Day Lewis cast as the 44th president (“the answer was right in front of me all along,” Spielberg said). Just when you thought this could go terribly wrong, there was the actual 44th president AS Daniel Day Lewis talking about the challenges of playing…HIMSELF. Very meta, very funny.

Low: A painfully underused Tracy Morgan

If you’re going to cast loose cannon Tracy Morgan as loose cannon Joe Biden, do SOMETHING with him. What’s less than a cameo? A pop-up? On second thought, maybe it was best for Spielberg to restrict Morgan’s appearance to a minimum. Or maybe this was all the coherent footage they could get out of him.

High: Anderson and Rachel

Conan O’Brien comparing the relationship between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner to a blind date between gay Anderson Cooper and lesbian Rachel Maddow. “It’s no surprise Speaker Boehner isn’t here tonight. In theory, they understand each other’s positions. But deep down you know nothing’s ever going to happen.” Pitch perfect Coco classic.

Low: Why can’t Joe Biden come?

We know, we know, it’s a security risk to have both President and Vice President at the same event (I can only imagine the security risk of having them at a Hilton at all), but I think we’re missing the best comedy of all by excluding the VP. By the end of the term, shouldn’t he at least get to Skype in and answer back for the eight years of jokes at his expense?

Author

Tony Bravo

Tony Bravo is a San Francisco freelancer covering fashion, menswear, lifestyle and entertainment stories. He is a regular contributor to The Bold Italic and the San Francisco Chronicle's Style section.

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