I watched last night’s White House correspondents dinner, or at least the part featuring President Obama and Conan O’Brien. Tuned in too late for the rest. My opinion? The president was funny and engaging, and although he probably has a team of writers creating his material, he knows how to deliver it with aplomb. He has great timing and he looks at and connects with his audience.
Then Conan stepped to the mic. He’s a professional comedian with his own TV show and I like him. I expected him to have me rolling on the floor. But he really blew it. He read his entire bit, rarely looking up and speaking much too fast. No timing, no pause for laughs. I got the impression he’d been handed a script and told to read it as fast as he could. (Maybe they were running out of time?) At one point I actually wondered if he was seeing the script for the first time. I don’t know what others have said about the two, but in my humble opinion the president was a hit and Conan should have stayed home.
And speaking of staying home, what’s with the umpteen thousand celebrities in attendance in a room the size of a football field? This dinner used to be and should return to being a cozy little insider event for the press and the White House. Hollywood has no standing here — except, of course, for all the politicians who think they are Hollywood.