Conan O'Brien will host this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD), which will take place on April 27. The event, which attracts reporters and politicians to raise money for scholarships, often pulls back the veil of seriousness that hovers over most White House dinners and turns into a laugh-out-loud affair. O'Brien hosting this year's dinner should continue the trend of making the dinner a White House comedy hour.
The laughs at the dinner usually start out nervously, with members of the crowd seeming to ask, "Is it OK for us to laugh at this?" The performers even seem tentative about their jokes and wonder if they're crossing the line. Then, as the performers go on, the laughs get bigger and the hosts loosen up. Below, are some of the funniest moments from past White House Correspondents Dinners, the jokes range from cringe-worthy to hilarious. Enjoy:
Conan O'Brien, 1995
O'Brien will be making a return to the stage, which he spoke in 1995. He told people watching on C-Span to stop watching. He told them to go out and "Meet a woman! C'mon! There are things you can do!" It's been 18 years, but O'Brien will likely be just fine taking the stage as host of this year's dinner.
President Obama ripping Donald Trump, 2012
Comedians and entertainers are usually the ones who provide the jokes, but the politicians sometimes get involved as well. Trump is a pretty easy target for Obama, who appears extremely comfortable in the role of jokester.
Jimmy Kimmel Roasting Barack Obama, 2012
Even a media darling of a president like Obama is fair game. This was 2012 before Obama had been re-elected, and Kimmel saying, "There’s a term for guys like President Obama... Probably not two terms, but…” was spot on.
Norm MacDonald Roasting Bill Clinton, 1997
The video takes a bit to get going (jump to the 2-minute mark for MacDonald to loosen up some) and is the perfect example of a host not knowing whether the jokes are appropriate or not. When he starts talking about medical marijuana and tells President Clinton, "You must inhale, sir," the audience finds it just fine that MacDonald crosses the line.
Seth Meyers With an SNL-Worthy Performance, 2011
Seth Meyers and some writers from Saturday Night Live really excelled with their jokes here. He calls out Congress for their long bills, claiming he thinks they read them and vote on them like the rest of us "agree to updated terms and conditions on iTunes." He even told President Obama that he might want to start smoking again.
Stephen Colbert Condemns the Bush Regime, 2006
This may not be the funniest of the bunch, but it stands out for other reasons. Stephen Colbert spoke out against President George W. Bush right to his face. Colbert spoke his mind and didn't mince words. Many of his "jokes" were met with silence from Bush supporters, but the speech was powerful. In the New York Times, Frank Rich called it the "defining moment" of the midterm elections.
This year's dinner is likely to be more like the other Obama-era dinners: light hearted in nature. With O'Brien at the helm, expect a few digs at Obama, but don't expect them to be enightening or scathing.