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Reflections on the White House Correspondence Speeches

As usual, the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was filled with laughter and high-powered guests. The annual star-studded event hosts celebrities, journalists who cover the White House and president, and other heavy-hitters in the media.

This year, talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at the Secret Service, whose agents where caught with prostitutes during a recent trip to Columbia. Kimmel took frequent shots at the president as well:

"Mr. President, I know you won't be able to laugh at any of my jokes about the Secret Service, so cover your ears, if that's physically possible."

Not to be outdone, the president had the crowd going, too. Here's my favorite line, with the president referring to the recent Secret Service transgressions:

"Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena."

The dinner has the feel of a roast, and the president insulted Donald Trump, Arianna Huffington, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and others. About Romney, President Obama implied that his life mirrors The Hunger Games:

"I guess Governor Romney is feeling pretty good about things because he took a few hours off the other day to see The Hunger Games. It’s a movie about people who court wealthy sponsors and then brutally savage each other until only one contestant is left standing. I’m sure this was a really good change of pace for him. I have not seen The Hunger Games — not enough class warfare for me."

Discussion Starters: 

  • Do you find President Obama's speech funny? What, if any, parts were over-the-top? What about Jimmy Kimmel's speech?
  • What delivery tactics do the President and Kimmel use? How do they encourage and manage laughter from the audience?