The White House Correspondents’ Dinner—or what our absent president called, “a large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media…consoling each other in a hotel ballroom”—occurred rather unnecessarily and awkwardly but still with plenty of humor on Saturday night.
The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj delivered the keynote comedy routine under conditions that couldn’t be worse for lightly teasing the America empire, given that Trump and his administration, aside from not being there, have made it clear that they have nothing but disdain for a free press. Usually the only fun part about watching the WHCD is seeing world leaders squirm with embarrassment, or let a smile slip, or lose their composure in any way—that’s how you know the comedian has done their job. Without that, you might as well be tweeting jokes at realDonaldTrump, or blogging into the void.
Having said that, Minhaj did a great job with a weird and joyless situation.
This bit had a nice, twisty sequence:
“We’ve got to address the elephant that’s not in the room: the leader of our country is not here. And that’s because he lives in Moscow. It’s a very long flight. As for the other guy, I think he’s in Pennsylvania because he can’t take a joke.”
Another snappy line:
“I’m so glad you guys are all here tonight to honor a great American tradition, because we all know that this administration loves deleting history faster than Anthony Weiner when he hears footsteps.”
Obligatory Game of Thrones reference:
“King Joffrey is president. It feels like the Red Wedding in here.”
And of course, of course, it goes without saying, no one else wanted to do this:
“I’d like to thank Jeff Mason and the White House Correspondents’ Association for having me. I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one wanted to do this. So of course, it lands in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down. No one wanted this gig! No one! Don Rickles died just so you wouldn’t ask him to do this gig. R.I.P. to Don Rickles, the only Donald with skin thick enough to take a joke like that. R.I.P. to the legend.”
You can watch Minhaj’s speech in its entirety below.