21 of the best jokes from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama White House Correspondents dinners.
The White House Correspondents' Association dinner is an opportunity for the politically powerful to showcase their ability to take a joke. Naturally, Donald Trump won't go near it.
For the second straight year, Trump won't be in attendance for the dinner. Not exactly known for his ability to poke fun at himself or smile along, it makes sense that he wouldn't want to be there for an evening that both undercuts and exaggerates the press's supposedly adversarial relationship with our nation's leaders.
While the event itself dates back more than 100 years, it wasn't until 1993 that C-SPAN began airing the whole thing live. Since then, comedians, such as Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno, Drew Carey, Wanda Sykes, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers, have taken the stage to jab at the politicians and the press — all in good fun.
Let's look back at some of the funniest and most daring jokes from past White House Correspondents' Association dinners, made by celebs and politicos alike.
Larry Wilmore in 2016 took jabs at the obscurity of C-SPAN and a failed promise.
"It is good to be on C-SPAN. Glad I’m not on your rival network, 'No input, HDMI1.'"
"Oh, I just got a note from the president saying that if you want another drink, you should order it now because the bar will be closing down. Of course, he said the same thing about Guantanamo, so you have at least another eight years."
Comedian Larry Wilmore hosted in 2016. Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.
During his final dinner in 2016, President Obama starred in a video contemplating life after the White House.
In 2015, Cecily Strong of "Saturday Night Live" brought up reproductive rights.
"Since I’m only a comedian, I’m not going to try and tell you politicians how to do politics. That would be like you guys telling me what to do with my body. I mean, can you even imagine?"
Joel McHale used his 2014 platform to torch ... well, everyone.
"C-SPAN is like one of those 'Paranormal Activity' movies. It’s just grainy shots of empty rooms interrupted by images of people you’re pretty sure died a few years ago."
"Jeb Bush might announce that he’s running. Wow, another Bush in the White House. Is it already time for our every-10-years surprise for Iraq?"
"At this point, CNN is like the RadioShack at a sad strip mall. You don’t know how it stayed in business this long, you don’t know anyone that shops there, and they just fired Piers Morgan."
"[Fox News anchors are the] Mount Rushmore of keeping old people angry."
Joel McHale and President Obama during the 2014 dinner. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com.
In 2013, Conan O'Brien took on Twitter, Mitt Romney, and Obama's name.
"If in 1995 you told me that in 2013 we'd have an African-American president with a middle name Hussein who was just elected to a second term in a sluggish economy, I would have said, ‘Oh, he must have run against Mitt Romney.'"
"If any of you are live-tweeting this event, please use the hashtag '#incapableoflivinginthemoment. Yes, also to any U.S. senators here tonight, if you would like to switch either your dessert or your position on gay marriage, please signal a waiter."
Comedian Conan O'Brien hosted the 2013 event. Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg.
Jimmy Kimmel joked about Occupy Wall Street and Mitt Romney in 2012.
"Americans are in terrible shape. You can even tell how out of shape we are by the way we protest. We used to march. Now we occupy.”
On Mitt Romney: "You can't have a beer with him, because he doesn't drink. You can't have a cup of coffee with him, because he can't have caffeine. You can't even play Monopoly with him because he keeps trying to put the dog on the car."
Seth Meyers jabbed at Donald Trump and the Huffington Post during his 2011 set.
"Donald Trump has said he's running for president as a Republican, which is surprising because I thought he was running as a joke."
"The New York Times party used to be free, but tonight there's a cover, so like everyone else I'll probably just go to the Huffington Post party. And the Huffington Post party is asking people to go to other parties first and just steal food and drinks and bring it from there."
In 2011, Obama took a few (joking) swipes at Donald Trump and his presidential ambitions. Oops.
“Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than the Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience. In 'Celebrity Apprentice,' the men team’s cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks, but you recognized that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey. These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled."
In 2015, Obama brought up Keegan-Michael Key to play the role of Luther, his anger translator. Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.
During the 2008 event, Craig Ferguson got laughs with his deadpan suggestion that Dick Cheney lives in a dungeon.
"Tonight we mark the end of an era. George W. Bush leaves in eight months. The vice president is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon."
Comedian Craig Ferguson hosted the 2008 event. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images.
Stephen Colbert's 2006 performance is the stuff of legend, but didn't exactly win him many friends at the time.
"I know there’s some polls out there saying that this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in ‘reality.’ And reality has a well-known liberal bias."
"Here's how it works: the president makes decisions, the press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spellcheck and go home. ... Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction!"
Comedian Stephen Colbert performed during the 2006 dinner. Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/Getty Images.
In 2004, President George W. Bush got a lot of criticism when he showed a sideshow of him jokingly looking around the Oval Office for weapons of mass destruction.
Sure, nothing should be off-limits in comedy, but maybe making a joke about how we were led to war based on a lie is a bit callous.
President Clinton played the role of a bored lame-duck president in this 2000 video.
In 1995, Conan O'Brien implored loyal C-SPAN viewers to please find something else to do on a Saturday night.
"I have an announcement for those of you watching this event live on C-SPAN. For God's sake, it's Saturday night! Go outside! ... There are things you can do!"
President Bill Clinton laughing during the 1996 event. Photo by Ted Mathias/AFP/Getty Images.
The show must go on, as they say.
Last year's host was Hasan Minhaj, who scorched the president with a comparison to King Joffrey from "Game of Thrones." This year, the event will be hosted by Michelle Wolf. It's sure to be as awkward as ever — and it's still pretty strange to see the press rubbing elbows with the same politicians their jobs require them to criticize. But with the world as dark as it is right now, maybe we do need to just find a way to laugh.
Comedian Hasan Minhaj hosted the 2017 White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images.