With the White House Correspondents’ Dinner returning to Washington DC after a two-year halt, President Joe Biden has once again stepped into the limelight of the press. The question remains: Is Joe Biden the kind to take a joke about his presidency, or will he dodge the humour?
The White House has been occupied by Presidents of all kinds, those who take the stage themselves and use their wit to get laughs and those who refuse to show up at the event at all.
Barack Obama has been known to often weaponise his wit and put everyone in the crosshairs, including himself. He went easy on no one– former Presidents, Hollywood bigshots, lawmakers, other global leaders and even future Presidents.
At his 2012 Correspondents’ Dinner, former President Obama had plenty of “mic drop moments”, literally. Hollywood star Matt Damon, who was often critical of Obama, was just one of the victims.
“Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ so right back at you, buddy”, Obama said.
Donald Trump, breaking the White House tradition, completely flipped. A former businessman who virtually did not have any political experience before becoming the President, Trump was undoubtedly going to be at the centre of all jokes. The former President decided not to show up at the event throughout his single-term Presidency.
However, there have been times when the comical factor was completely missing from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but it took a World War to break the strong tradition. In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the podium and addressed matters like the spread of Nazism and where the United States stood in the war.
Other pro-joke Presidents included Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush among many others. While Regan focused his humour on his old age, Bush took out a book written about his verbal gaffes and reviewed them with the audience.