I am a big fan of President Obama. I think he’s one of the all-time great presidents, definitely in the top 50. Please explain that to Jessica Simpson. You’re right, that was low.That came early on and was followed by what might have been his only rough treatment of Obama:
All right, how about the president’s performance tonight, everyone? Sir, it’s amazing that you can still bring it with fresh, hilarious material. My favorite bit of yours was when you said you would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. That was a classic. That was hilarious, hilarious. Still going.Detainee Obamedy. Obama laughed and laughed. I think he mouthed something like "I'm still workin' on it."
He moved on to Chris-Christie-is-fat material, again with the trope: These jokes are bad and I know it. It was almost a Neil Hamburger approach. I wanted to link to something I'd already written about Neil Hamburger so you'd understand what I mean, but the first thing I ran into was this:
"Is it just me, or is George Bush the worst President in the history of the United States?.... Which makes it all the harder to understand why his son, George W. Bush, is in fact the best president we’ve ever had."Here's an old post that explains the Neil Hamburger approach. Oh, how I'd love to watch a White House Correspondents Dinner with Neil Hamburger as the comedian! But back to Joel McHale. McHale mostly took shots at Republicans:
To Republicans in attendance, E! is the channel that your deeply closeted gay son likes to watch. Democrats, it’s the same channel that your happy, openly gay son likes to watch. E! is also home to the Kardashians, who believe it or not, are Republicans. And I know that because they are always trying to screw black people. Now just the men!This is funnier to me now than it seemed last night because I'm picturing it as Neil Hamburger humor, intentionally bad, with the comedian almost arguing with the audience.
I hope you all enjoyed your dinner. The filet tonight was grass-fed beef, freshly dragged off the Cliven Bundy ranch. The steaks are very tasty once you pull off the tiny white hoods. Oh see, you like Cliven Bundy? Okay I get it, all right great, all right let it be known, let the record show, all right.Hmm. I'm seeing this in a new light. This would be great material if it were told by an irascible, repulsive old man. Unfortunately, McHale is a reasonably cute young guy who seemingly wants to be liked, and worse, the audience was liking him because he was taking shots at targets they don't like. If this show belongs on TV and not hidden away like a meeting of the Trilateral Commission, the shots should be taken at the powerful people who are sitting in the room. Don't make those complacent jerks comfortable. Entertain Us, The People, by making them squirm (at least).
Scrolling down in the text, there's this:
Hillary’s daughter Chelsea is pregnant which means in nine months we will officially have a sequel to “Bad Grandpa.” It also raises the question, when the baby is born do you give Bill Clinton a cigar? You guys sound like you’re on a roller coaster right now.The last sentence is the seemingly ad-libbed reaction to the audience reacting to his offensive jokes. The part about "Bad Grandpa" assumes we know enough about a movie to know that he's not making a pedophilia joke about Bill Clinton. The part about the cigar — which assumes we know something too — is a genuinely inventive, genuinely offensive joke that hits someone the crowd in the room has been coddling over the last decade.
Jeb Bush says he’s thinking about running. Wow, another Bush might be in the White House. Is it already time for our every 10 years surprise party for Iraq? As it stands right now, the Republican presidential nominee will either be Jeb Bush, Rand Paul or a bag of flour with Ronald Reagan’s face drawn on it. Bag of flour! All right."Bag of flour! All right." was the acknowledgment that a joke had actually worked on the audience (and I laughed out loud at the bag-of-flour joke (come on, the GOP really does have a terrible problem coming up with a 2016 candidate)).
... Chris Christie is here. He is actually here, tonight. Wow, sir, you are a glutton … for punishment.That too is a good joke. Not because Christie is fat, but because: Why is Chris Christie there? Why would any governor attend? I see that Christie — along with Rick Perry — is there as a guest of CNN. (Blecch.) McHale says:
So, here we go. Chris Christie, his administration canceled the train tunnel to Manhattan, they’re closing the Pulaski Skyway and they blocked the George Washington Bridge. Finally, a politician willing to stand up to America’s commuters. Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? ’Cause I’ve got a bunch of both. I could go half and half. I know you like a combo platter. Now, I know, I get that. I am sorry for that joke, Governor Christie. I did not know I was going to tell it, but I take full responsibility for it. Whoever wrote it will be fired. But the buck stops here. So I will be a man and own up to it just as soon as I get to the bottom of how it happened because I was unaware it happened until just now. I am appointing a blue-ribbon commission of me to investigate the joke I just told. And if I find any wrongdoing on my part, I assure you I will be dealt with. I just looked into it. It turns out I am not responsible for it. Justice has been served. He is going to kill me.That was McHale's most extended routine, and it was pretty good. Not good if your observation is that McHale is only going after Republicans, but what could you expect?
Okay, here's a real jab at Obama:
[Y]ou are healthy, which is great. Every year the White House doctor checks the president’s colon for polyps and George Clooney’s head. Yeah.And there was:
And what’s our biggest concern as Americans? TV show spoilers. In other countries, a spoiler consists of, “Hey, I haven’t been back to the village yet, so don’t tell me who survived the drone strike. No spoilers!” Sorry about that one.Bottom line: George Clooney's head. I mean: Chris Christie's ass. I mean: McHale was not that bad, and he did take 3 painful shots at Obama: 1. Guantanamo, 2. Hollywood's sucking up, 3. Drones.
I was complaining about it while watching it last night, however. I think that's because the smarmy, complacent faces of the media people in the audience were just so disgusting to me. I didn't want them to have any pleasure at all, so I was perversely rooting for McHale to be bad, and part of the way he was being good was with this (somewhat tired) gimmick of enacting the part of a bad comedian. In the clear light of morning, with just text and a fading memory, I'm seeing the good.