May 5, 2010

President Obama killed and Jay Leno bombed at the WHPC. That's got to be embarrassing to all comedians, especially conservative comics.

Wanna know why?

The only person whose ratings fell more than mine did last year is here. Great to see you, Jay!” Obama dinged the off-and-on Tonight show host, who, when his turn came on the podium at the Washington Hilton, proceeded to confirm just why that might be true.

Obama—aided (as presidential political guru David Axelrod acknowledged to me when the show was over) by the razor-sharp jokesters from The Daily Show—came armed with fresh and funny material that prompted some of the biggest laughs I’ve witnessed the Leader of the Free World receiving in more than two decades of attending this strange Washington media-political celebration of self-congratulation—a tribal (and, to outside observers, potentially unappealing) rite of spring in which supposedly discerning and skeptical journalists laugh their posteriors off and lavishly kiss the one belonging to the Comedian-in-Chief.

Leno, while entirely competent, recycled and repurposed old material from his television show—and even made a mother-in-law joke. After one of his japes was greeted by eerie silence, it was hard not to feel a tinge of sympathy for him when he marveled desperately, “This is a tough room!”

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