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.

via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

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via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."