Obama Cracks Jokes During Speech At Kennedy Center Honors

12/05/2011 07:49 pm ET

Barack Obama earned laughs from such stars as Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Lionel Richie during the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, cracking jokes while giving a speech at the star-studded Washington, D.C. event.

Obama joked that he could use tips on likeability from famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was one of several artists honored at the event. "Everybody likes him," Obama said before turning to the musician and claiming, "You've got to give me some tips."

Other artists honored during the gala included actress Meryl Streep, pop singer Neil Diamond, Broadway singer Barbara Cook and saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

Several politicians attended the annual event, including Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton -- who attended the event on a break from several major trips abroad -- touted the artists' influence on the world, pulling from her foreign policy experience to praise those being honored.

"You may not know it, but somewhere in a little tiny room in Burma or even in North Korea, someone is desperately trying to hear you or to see you, to experience you," Clinton said. "If they are lucky enough to make that connection, it can literally change lives and countries."