Comedienne Wanda Sykes hosted the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday night. With 154,719 views this morning, it’s the top YouTube video.
Her best line: Sykes spoke of the satisfaction in saying “The first black president.” She then told Obama, “Unless you screw up, and then it’s gonna be, 'what's up with the half white guy, huh?”
Sykes is only the second female comic invited to host the dinner – the first time was Elayne Boosler in 1994. (Back in 1945, Fanny Brice was part of a larger group of comics who entertained) and she’s certainly the first black out lesbian comic to host. (top that, last year’s host, Rich Little.)
This White House Correspondent’s comedy gig can be as politically controversial as Steven Colbert’s (Bush supporters walked out) or as innocuous as Rich Little’s the following year. (Asked to swerve away from ridiculing President Bush, Rich Little promised the White House not to even mention the word “Iraq.”)
Sykes had a hard balancing act ahead of her. Steve Colbert set the standard for just how bold and edgy this monologue can be, but how does one roast a beloved president who still has his new car smell? How does one mock a popular new president when the best that even Jon Stewart can do is cue the sound of herald angels singing when Obama’s name comes up?
Her strategy: mock the Republicans. She predicted the kidney failure of Rush Limbaugh; she described Dick Cheney as worse than a child abductor. Trying to keep it fare and balanced, she also mocked Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (who is fast emerging as the number one joke-butt in the Obama administration.)
Sykes most pronounced ribbing of Obama was to complain that his nipples were too prominently displayed in news periodicals everywhere. She joshed about Michelle’s comely biceps.
Watching it on Youtube again today, I’m finding it pretty darn amusing. On Saturday, hearing her speak just after Obama himself, I was a tad underwhelmed; he himself was really quite funny and I had high very expectations for Sykes.
She has long been my choice to receive the ‘best sit-com sidekick award’ for her brilliant display of wise-acre best buddying as Barb on “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” And her stand-up is raunchy and rude. She surprised folks by getting seriously political and coming out all over YouTube when she spoke out against prop 8. How was she going to do hostility-free comedy?
Many surmise that Barack Obama’s cool demeanor played a big factor in helping folks vote for the first black President. An angry black candidate would not do. At the White House correspondents’ dinner, Obama promised to seriously consider losing his temper in his next 100 days. And Wanda proved that not losing your temper can work pretty well too.