February 2, 2023

‘Serious’ Joe Biden looks to prove he can be actually funny

7 min read

“It really was a game for him,” said David Litt, who wrote a speech through the Oval Office supporting the video crew on Biden’s shoot.

“The president has a great sense of humor and he is working hard on his speech,” press secretary Jane Sackie said Friday.

Still, Biden is playing. A difficult room in a difficult time. And when he happily mocks his nonsense – real and understandable – at heart he is a sincere man in a difficult task.

“This is a president who has used the words ‘not jokes, people’ more than he has told real jokes,” said Jeff Nosbam, who has been in the White House this week. Speechwriters continued to work and prepare humorous speeches. For Biden, “this is not necessarily a bad thing at a serious time. It’s just that President Biden is a serious person who is dealing with serious challenges.”

Authorities say Biden’s speech has been in the works for several weeks and did not end until Friday. But at the beginning of the writing process, the president told his team that he had envisioned a speech that would go beyond just a combination of one-liners, wise creeks and gigs.

Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like Biden aint for me either. But he also intended to use appearances to loudly confirm his beliefs in an independent press by labeling journalists “enemies of the people” after his predecessor – who left the annual dinner – ۔

“Think about what the American press has done,” Biden said in a speech on Ukraine this week, referring to a dinner he had given to reporters. “The courage that has been shown to live in these war zones … I cannot tell you that I am in these zones, under fire, risking my life, to convince the world of the truth. What an honor it is to see them make it. “

Saki said this week that “he has decided that he wants to attend the White House Correspondents’ dinner safely, to show his support, to show his support for the free press.” Said this week. “This is in stark contrast to his predecessor, who not only questioned the legitimacy of the press on an almost daily basis, but also never attended a dinner.”

A difficult time for jokes in front of a huge crowd

Like any comedian, Biden weighs in on his audience and the current environment because he decides what to say.

Officials acknowledge that this is not the easiest time to deal with the situation. There is nothing funny about the war in Ukraine or its atrocities. And while the cove epidemic and its many obstacles to life have provided enough space for comedians, its deaths and economic woes are not topics that anyone can laugh at.

“It’s a challenge for those who write this speech that there are so many serious issues going on in the world. At the same time, I think it’s important that Presidents are doing this. President Trump never attended that dinner.” Litt, who led the process of drafting President Barack Obama’s annual comedy speech at the reporters’ dinner, said he did not tolerate the idea of ​​making fun of him and did not know that he did much. What a wonderful job.

“To be able to come in front of a president and make fun of yourself, usually tell a few jokes, talk about the press and maybe a little bit about the press, but also talk about the role of the independent press – it “It’s not a small thing, it’s a big thing.”

It will be difficult to ignore the epidemic at dinner, More than 2,500 people attended the basement hotel ballroom. At least one high profile participant – Dr. Anthony Fookie, Biden’s chief medical adviser – Decided he would not go. And Biden’s team has taken special precautions to prevent his infection, including only attending speeches and not when people are eating.

But he intends to stay there, Saki said this week to show his support for the free press. One person familiar with the matter said that before the big night, Biden is expected to do a few rehearsals of his speech to realize the delivery and timing.

“Comedy requires rhythm and time that cannot be as natural in the context of a typical speech as it is 1,000 times as a politician,” said Matt Tapper, who spoke as Biden’s vice president. Acted as doers “She has a natural sense of humor, and she cares enough to make sure it’s told almost professionally and in a pretty funny way.”

For Washington insiders, the flop at dinner is one of Biden’s main concerns at this critical time. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.

“I don’t envy him for delivering it. I don’t envy the people around him who are writing it and the people who are even writing jokes. All this pressure affects every word.” Happens, “said Tapper.

Washington is funny, really funny and what can a president say.

A White House official said Biden’s top speechwriter, Vine Reddy, and his senior adviser, Mike Donilon, were compiling the president’s remarks. Following a well-established routine for presidential comedy writing, the official said he was working on “collecting jokes from a wide range of insiders and outsiders.”

By the middle of this week, Biden was presented with a long list of jokes, from which he would choose. Officials said Chief of Staff Ron Klein, Members of the communications team and others inside the White House sent jokes to Biden’s speechwriters for consideration. Rob Stilherty, director of digital strategy, and Dan Kilchi, a senior speechwriter – both of Biden’s comedians – are sending content.

When he was president, Obama brought in comic writers from Los Angeles and New York to provide his writing team with input from the annual correspondents’ dinner speeches – including producer Jude Apato and “The Daily Show” and ” Authors of “30 Rock”.

Biden, when he was vice president, also sought outside help for the humorous speeches he made at the annual Girdiron Dinner and other light-hearted events.

Among the people Biden referred to was John Max, one of the leading authors of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, who has written an extended line of acquaintances as well as hosting material for dozens of Oscar events. One person involved in the process recalled a petition submitted by Seth Meyers when Biden was vice president, then headwriter on “Saturday Night Live”.

According to those involved in the Obama and Biden process, the ploy was turning a list of hundreds of jokes into a coherent speech that was bound to come out of the president’s mouth. Jokes that are shot in a late night show or in a comedy club may sound cool or contrived by the president.

Raw humor, even when artistically presented, usually takes place under the office – as Obama’s authors discovered when he used a gag to indicate the size of his penis. Rejected, though he laughed out loud. And insults about physical appearance are not common in official Washington.

“The challenge for the president with this speech is always to find this small area of ​​overlap between Washington Fanny and Actual Fanny,” said Nosbam, who also addressed the dinner speeches of some of Obama’s reporters. Did work “There’s a circle that’s Washington Art, there’s a circle that’s really funny, and then there’s a third circle, what can the president say?

He added: “A comedian can joke about Kovid, a comedian can joke about Putin and Ukraine. A president really can’t do that.”

Probably the easiest way for Biden to use the self-made style he has used in the past, including in his video appearances in the past at reporters’ dinners. Yet it comes with potential danger.

“President Biden faces a challenge because of his age or the sophistication of his sophistication. Let’s call him Malarki. His political opponents are trying to push him forward.”

Finding politically appropriate humor in 2022

For nearly a century, the presidents have attended the annual dinner for White House correspondents, described in 1922 as “an occasion of great excitement and enthusiasm.” According to a dinner participant a year ago, Syria “provided as much fun as it did during the Prohibition.”

When Calvin College became the first president to attend a dinner in 1924, he did not introduce comedy. This tradition did not come later, when the presidents discovered comedy that they were given the opportunity to talk in a skewed way about things that they avoided.

“One of the ways that these speeches work historically is that you can talk about things without talking about them. Humor gives you the ability to come up with the burden of coming up with a joke. Put it on the audience, “said Don Wesson, professor of communications. At New York City University’s Barch College, which has studied the White House correspondents’ dinner speeches.

President Bill Clinton used the technique in 1999 when he cautiously referred to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, referring to “events of the past year” without discussing his impeachment proceedings.

President George W. Bush’s humorous slideshow on the search for weapons of mass destruction at a 2004 radio and television correspondents’ dinner was less successful – a shock that flattered and led to allegations that They had crossed a line.

Biden’s speechwriters and aides are working to ensure that this does not happen this year. And Biden himself has told some of his teammates that some jokes either don’t work, go too far or don’t really look like that.

But in a hyperpolarized political environment – far more ugly than the debate in 2016, the last time a president spoke at a reporters’ dinner – can Biden really say anything, a ridiculously open question on a global scale. ۔

“I think the most interesting thing about what’s going to happen here is that this speech is going to be a real test case for comedy in the United States in 2022,” Wesson said. It was presented like this: Let’s find some humanity here, let’s find some light-hearted people.

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