aturday night, America's political and media heavyweights gathered with some Hollywood boldface names in a Washington, D.C., ballroom for the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. The "nerd prom" is half love-fest, half roast, and both President Obama and guest host Conan O'Brien landed their share of comedic jabs at each other and several of the journalists and politicians in the audience.
The celebrities at the dinner, Politico says, rated Obama's routine as funnier than Conan's. But both men ended their acts on a serious note, recalling the Boston Marathon bombings, fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, and other recent tragedies, and thanking the first responders who rushed in to help and the reporters who helped inform the public — Obama gave a special nod to The Boston Globe.
Obama's best jokes
On his presidency:
"These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be."
"Even after all this time, I still make rookie mistakes. Like, I'm out in California, we're at a fundraiser, we're having a nice time. I happen to mention that Kamala Harris is the best-looking attorney general in the country. As you might imagine, I got in trouble when I got back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?"
"But some things are beyond my control. For example, this whole controversy about Jay-Z going to Cuba — it's unbelievable. I've got 99 problems and now Jay-Z is one."
"I recognize that this job can take a toll on you. I understand — second term, you need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it. We were willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle's tricks. I thought this looked pretty good, but no bounce."
On the media:
"I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to covering all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate."
"Some of my former advisors have switched over to the dark side. For example, David Axelrod now works for MSNBC — which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod."
"The media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can't keep up with it. I mean, I remember when BuzzFeed was just something I did in college around 2:00 a.m."
"The fact is I really do respect the press. I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be president; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I'm doing my job better."
"There are other new players in the media landscape as well, like super PACs. Did you know that Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million of his own money last year on negative ads? You've got to really dislike me to spend that kind of money. I mean, that's Oprah money. You could buy an island and call it 'Nobama' for that kind of money. Sheldon would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race. I probably wouldn't have taken it, but I'd have thought about it."
"One senator who has reached across the aisle recently is Marco Rubio, but I don't know about 2016. I mean, the guy has not even finished a single term in the Senate and he thinks he's ready to be president."
"I went to the opening of the Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It was a wonderful event, and that inspired me to get started on my own legacy, which will actually begin by building another edifice right next to the Bush Library."
"I'm also hard at work on plans for the Obama Library. And some have suggested that we put it in my birthplace, but I'd rather keep it in the United States. Did anybody not see that joke coming? Show of hands. Only Gallup? Maybe Dick Morris?"
Conan's best jokes
"Some in this room even accused the president of being distant and aloof. When I asked the president about that earlier, he said, 'Oh,' and walked away."
"Mr. President, your hair is so white, it could be a member of your Cabinet."
"The president is hard at work creating jobs. Since he was first elected, the number of popes has doubled. The number of Tonight Show hosts has tripled. Congratulations."
"I have a question, and I think some of you also have this question. It's been several months since you were re-elected, sir, so I'm curious, why are you still sending everyone five emails a day asking for more money? You won! Do you have a gambling problem we don't know about?"
On the media:
"As I look around the room and see all the media here tonight, I realize this is just one big high school cafeteria. That's all it is. Think about it. Fox is the jocks, MSNBC is the nerds, bloggers are the goths, NPR is the table for kids with peanut allergies. Al Jazeera is the weird foreign exchange student nobody talks to."
"The print media still has a big star in Bob Woodward. Earlier the waiter asked if he wanted regular or decaf. And he said, 'Stop threatening me.'"
"CNN's ratings are so low, now when the logo comes up, James Earl Jones says, 'You're watching CNN?!'"
"Tonight's entrees were halibut and filet mignon — or, as CNN's John King reported it, lasagna and couscous."
"If any of you are live-tweeting this event, please use the hashtag #IncapableOfLivingInTheMoment."
"I'd like to acknowledge that earlier this evening, there was some confusion with the seating chart. For a moment, someone accidentally sat Gov. Chris Christie with the Republicans. That was awkward, and I apologize."
"The Republican Party has a new rising star, Marco Rubio, or as he's known in the Republican Party, our black guy."
"Speaker Boehner and President Obama are still struggling to get along. President Obama and John Boehner are kind of like a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow. In theory, they understand each other's positions, but deep down you know nothing is ever going to happen."
"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."
President Obama's full routine:
Conan O'Brien's full routine:
- How the strange case of Obama's Uncle Omar complicates immigration reform
- There is a better alternative to raising the minimum wage
- Rick Santorum wins the prize for the worst Nelson Mandela tribute
- Watch The Daily Show use Pope Francis to hammer Fox Business pundits
Did God have a wife?
- 4 secret societies you probably don't know about
- The 2014 World Cup draw: Team U.S.A. is screwed
- 'Mexican Barbie' and 10 other controversial Barbies [Updated]
- Ryan Seacrest invested $1 million to transform your iPhone into a BlackBerry
- Remembering Nelson Mandela: The world's front pages
Subscribe to the Week