Tonight saw the political and Hollywood elite descend on Washington D.C. for the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where everyone involved gets to take turns pretending for a night that they have a sense of humor about themselves. Testing that resolve: The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore, who fired hard at the assembled media, who then fired back with their standard cocktail of groans and stony silence.
Wilmore took shots at Wolf Blitzer, CNN, and the entirety of print media, at one point asking President Obama who he was killing that night—a reference to the death of Osama Bin Laden shortly before the 2011 Dinner: “Can’t be print journalism, that industry’s been dead for a while now!” Wilmore then turned his attention to the current crop of candidates, addressing a present Bernie Sanders by name, and poking fun at his age and problems cultivating the black vote. “Bernie’s so old, when God said ‘Let there be light’ Bernie said, ‘Conserve energy, let’s sit in the dark.’”
Unsurprisingly, though, Wilmore reserved most of his satirical shots for the Republican frontrunners. He was surprisingly light on Trump—barely pausing to launch a slam against “his stupid little baby hands,” a reference to the long-running jokes about Trump’s insecurity about the size of his appendages. But he devoted his largest chunk of time to Ted Cruz, and the beloved internet meme that posits that the junior senator from Texas is the Zodiac Killer, and that anybody who spends time with him might be Zodiac Killed.
A veteran comedian, Wilmore clearly strugged at times with what’s widely known as one of the toughest rooms in the world. “You guys are tough, man,” he tossed off as an aside, even as he prepared another salvo against the assembled luminaries. It didn’t help that he had an incredibly tough act to follow. And we’re not just talking about Stephen Colbert’s legendary attack on the entire Bush White House in 2006; we’re talking about Wilmore’s opening act, a fella by the name of President Barack Obama.
Opening with a reference to “The end of the Republic,” Obama held nothing back in his final appearance at the event. “Eight years ago, I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I should have been more specific.” Then he joked about CPT—which means, “a joke white people shouldn’t make”—and threatened to bar the doors and force the few Republicans in the room to let him name his Supreme Court candidate of choice. “It’ll be like the Red Wedding,” he added with a laugh.
Wilmore held his own on the podium, but it’s hard to beat one of the world’s most gifted speakers, even if he’s clearly telling somebody else’s jokes. “Bernie, you look like a million bucks!” Obama told Sanders. “Or 37,000 donations of $27 each.” He ended, as any good comic does these days, by slamming Donald Trump, who was, in Obama’s words, busy tonight “eating Trump Steaks, tweeting insults to Angela Merkel.” He then went on to attack Trump’s general lack of class, and the ridiculousness of his campaign—“I think we can all agree that, from the start, he has gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy”—before literally saying ”Obama out” and dropping his mic.
Tough act to follow.
You can see Obama’s comments below; we’ll update the story with Wilmore’s speech once it makes its way online.
UPDATE: Here’s Wilmore’s speech, including a moment where he told Obama “your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally,” and the very rare “affectionate use of the n-word” in a White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech: