Prom night in the 202, peoples! We're talking White House Correspondent's Dinner, and we promise much more on-the-scene reporting from the incomparable Julia Allison as the day wends on. But first, as the WHCD is one of those key events that allow C-SPAN2 to pencil in at least one instance in which they might blow a .000001 share, let's check in on how the key entertainments of the evening fared.
Last year, at this time, Washington was still reeling from the satiric onslaught of Stephen Colbert, whose act--while endearing to all the normal human beings out there who man our You Tubes--went over like a lead balloon with the politicos and press types in attendance. In order to avoid a repeat of Colbert's Masque of the Red Death performance, the call went out: Bring us a comedian who's willing to ruffle nary a feather! And so, Rich Little was unfrozen from cultural cryogenesis to aim koosh balls at a liquored-up audience.
If the idea was to provide tame--and by tame, we mean "tasered repeatedly until only the barest will to live remains"--fare, then the move to Little was largely a success. If the idea was instead to be, you know, funny, well...FishbowlDC sums it up: "Let's just put this right out there and move on: Rich Little kinda stunk." The impressions: old, weak, and featured one of John McCain--who's making a career right now doing impressions of his old self anyway. There was bad singing, Andy Rooney impersonations (oy to the vey!), and clunky moments such as: "If the signs makers --people who make signs--if they go on strike, what the hell do they hold up?" Really...if you have to explain part of the set up to the punch line, the battle is already lost.
President Bush decided that he would not be funny at the event out of respect for the Virginia Tech community. (Also: why start now.) Presumably, this is also the reason the in-attendance-for-reasons-we-cannot-even-begin-to-fathom Sanjaya Malakar did not bumrush the stage in an attempt to save the evening with his sterling rendition of "Besame Mucho."
In the end, the effort to entertain fell flat. It did not impress Harry Shearer, it did not impress Editor and Publisher, and it did not impress Canada. And if you lose those three...well--sucks to be you. It is worth noting that Richard Cohen, who is known "in certain," very, very, very, small "circles" for being "a funny guy," has not weighed in yet. As for the President, let it be known, however, that he found Little's act to be "absolutely perfect." Zing!