Could it be that Washington does comedy better than the Hollywood movie studios?
Conan O'Brien and Barack Obama provided more laughter Saturday night at the White HouseCorrespondents' Association Dinner than you're likely to find this weekend at the multiplex (Video of O'Brien's bit can be seen here)
The humor was often topical, sharp and elaborate.
Obama's speech contained an inspired film clip about Steven Spielberg's next film: "Obama." The clip presented Obama playing Daniel Day-Lewis playing Obama. Tracy Morganannounced he was portraying Joe Biden.
The correspondents' association turned to Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" for help with its big spoof (See that video here).
O'Brien, who was in top form, ended his routine by announcing casting for a Turner Broadcasting miniseries about Washington power players. These announcements had the Washington audience howling: Paul Ryan will be played by Mr. Bean, John Boehner will be played by Tan Mom, John Kerry will be played by an Easter Island head.
O'Brien's very best line? "Speaker [John] 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's ever going to happen."
A lot of thought went into this comedy, which is more than you can say for most film comedies.
The best lines from Obama:
"I look in the mirror and I have to admit I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be."
"I go out on the basketball court, took 22 shots, made two of them. That's right: two hits, 20 misses. The executives at NBC asked, 'What's your secret?' "
"David Axelrod works for MSNBC now. Which is a nice change of pace, considering MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod."
"I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of the story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate."
"I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012. But one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with." He held up his hand. "Hello. Think of me as a trial run. See how it goes."
O'Brien lobbed his barbs at many media targets: C-SPAN, CNN's John King, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, The Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington, PBS, NPR, NBC,"Today," Al Roker and Brian Williams.
Some of O'Brien's best lines:
"I was last here 18 years ago, back in 1995. A lot's changed since then. Today you can get real-time information on world events from something small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Back in '95, we called that George Stephanopoulos."
"My prior experience has taught me how these dinners work. If the president laughs, everyone laughs. If the Fox News table laughs, a little girl just fell off her bike."
"The print media are here for two very good reasons: food and shelter. Some people say print media is dying. But I don't believe it, and neither does my blacksmith."
"CNN has made some very odd moves. They replaced the popular Larry King with one of the scheming footmen from 'Downton Abbey.' " [Piers Morgan was shown laughing heartily.]
"Bill O'Reilly is now working on his next book, due out this fall. This time it's about the killing of Jesus. It will be the first time in history that Jesus' death is blamed on Obamacare."