Barack Obama laughs it up at White House press dinner

President also turns the humour on himself at White House press dinner

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 6:31pm

Watch: Obama yuks it up with Washington reporters

US President Barack Obama joked about Russian President Vladimir Putin and issues much closer to home as he headlined the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday night.

The annual tradition has the president mocking others and himself as celebrities mingle with journalists and politicians.

Obama made fun of conservative TV hosts' talk about Putin's bare chest and one's comment last year about Putin being headed for a Nobel Peace Prize. "To be fair, they give those to just about anybody these days," said Obama, a laureate himself.

The president also joked about opposition claims that he had been born overseas instead of in the United States.

To be fair, they give [a Nobel Prize] to just about anybody these days
Obama, a Nobel laureate

Looking ahead to a possible successor in office, Obama said it would be a lot harder for Republicans to prove that Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in Kenya.

The president poked fun at CNN's extensive coverage of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. He said he was still jet-lagged from his visit in recent days to Malaysia and added: "The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days."

Obama also turned the humour on himself and his difficult 2013, including the deeply troubled rollout of the website for his health care overhaul.

"In 2008, my slogan was 'Yes We Can'. In 2013, my slogan was 'Control+Alt+Delete'," the president joked, a reference to the technical problems on HealthCare.gov, the website created for the health care overhaul.

"On the plus side," Obama said, "they did turn the launch of HealthCare.gov into one of the year's biggest movies." A poster for the Disney movie Frozen then flashed on the screen.

First lady Michelle Obama accompanied him to the black tie event, and Joel McHale, star of the NBC series Community, was the featured entertainer.

McHale did not spare the president. He praised Obama's performance, then said that his favourite presidential joke "was when you said you would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. That was classic. That was hilarious".

Obama promised to shut down the controversial prison at a US naval base in Cuba when he took office in January 2009, but the site is still open.

Most of McHale's jokes, however, were at the expense of the corpulent governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who was at the dinner.

McHale mocked Christie's girth as well as a local traffic scandal that could sink his hopes to become the 2016 Republican presidential nominee.

"I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie's presidential bid," McHale joked.

Celebrities attending included Sofia Vergara and the stars of Washington-centric shows like Veep and Scanda l.

The correspondent's association, which represents the White House press corps, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse