When talk show host Conan O’Brien took the podium at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he had big shoes to fill after a great and funny speech from President Barack Obama. Right off the top, O’Brien took a shot at himself, giving credit to the President on job creation during his time in office. “Since he was first elected the number of popes has doubled, and the number of “Tonight Show” hosts has tripled,” he jokes.
That doesn’t mean the President was spared though. Like Obama did himself, Conan poked fun at how the presidency has aged him, joking, “Your hair is so white, it could be a member of your cabinet.”
Though the former president, George W. Bush, wasn’t in attendance, he was not safe from jokes. When talking about the recent dedication of his presidential library, O’Brien quips, “The library has millions of books, articles and documents. And if you go, you can be the first to read them.”
O’Brien also mocked CNN’s reporting in the aftermath of the Boston bombing, saying, “Tonight’s dinner was halibut and filet, or as [CNN reporter] John King reported it: Lasagna and couscous.” CNN has been taken to task for announcing an arrest had been made in the bombing, though one hadn’t.
This wasn’t O’Brien’s first time hosting the dinner, as he also had the duties in 1995. Looking back on that experience, he jokes, “If, in 1995, you told me that in 2013 we’d have an African-American president with the middle name Hussein who was elected to a second term in a sluggish economy, I would have said, ‘Oh, he must have run against Mitt Romney.'”
O’Brien also let the President in on a secret, that he was hoping Romney would take the 2012 election. “As a late night comedian, I was kind of pulling for the rich guy whose horse danced in the Olympics,” he explains to laughs.
Like Obama, O’Brien took time at the end of his jokes to send a genuine message. As a native of the Boston area, he was grateful for the President’s response and praised him for it, explaining that his visit after the attack helped in healing the city.