Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Colbert guaranteed to remain high point of 2007 White House Correspondents dinner

Don't misunderstand: Colbert won't be invited back to this year's White House Corresondents dinner. His performance last year pretty much guaranteed that.

But I would imagine it won't take long this year before everyone present (except George and Laura) will realize they probably had it better when Colbert had the gig. The folks in charge may have erred a tad too far on the side of caution (not to say conservativism) this time around.

"Maybe Colbert was a little hard on everyone last year," it's not hard to imagine them thinking, "but is an impressionist from the '70s really the only other option?" It's a little reminiscent of Reagan Interior Secretary James Watt canceling the Beach Boys' annual Fourth of July concert at the Washington Mall in 1983 on the grounds that they would attract "the wrong element"--and lining up Las Vegas fixture Wayne Newton to perform in their stead.

There will come a point at this year's gathering when, after schmoozing and dining with the very people they're supposed to be watching out for, all the swells will loosen their cummerbunds or slip off their heels, sit back . . . and realize to their horror that they're going to forced to spend the next 25 minutes trying to digest the lamb brochettes in mint and coriander while listening to a stand-up act by someone who played a murderer on "Hawaii Five-O."*

There was a little bit of a kerfluffle after it was announced that Rich Little would be this year's entertainment. Little was quoted as saying the WHCA made it clear to him that he was to go easy on attendees, including the President--the WHCA later adamantly denied any suggestion of prior restraint.

Steve Scully, president of the WHCA, gamely offered that Little's presence on the dais "also coincides with a plan to make the evening more of a look at the history of presidential humor." Ah yes. Imagine the electric thrill in the room when Little recreates the legendary exchange of one-liners between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 campaign.

As Abraham Lincoln said, "Welcome to the Hall of Presidents." Anamatronics never looked so (comparatively) lifelike.

On the bright side, think of it this way: If you've ever suspected that members of the White House press corps lead a much more exciting and socially well-connected life than you do, that night you'll be guaranteed to have your revenge, almost no matter what you're doing.

*Yes. He did. You can look it up.

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