Let’s just put this right out there and move on: Rich Little kinda stunk. The whole thing made us feel that we were not at the White House Correspondents Dinner, but rather frozen in a 1970s moment…stuck in a basement somewhere with orange carpeting, flower patterned couches, wood paneling and a black and white television with rabbit ears.
Although Little had months to prepare for this, his impersonations still were stuck in the previous era: Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Johnny Carson (Dana Carvey’s is better). His impersonations of presidents 41, 42 and 43 were weak. His most current impressions were Arnold Schwarzenegger (again, Dana Carvey’s was better) and John McCain (who seems like an old relic himself nowadays). His Andy Rooney impersonation wasn’t half bad, if only because it was a conduit for such jokes as, “If you were scared half to death twice what would happen to you?” and “If the signs makers –people who make signs–if they go on strike, what the hell do they hold up?”
The worst part of Little’s routine was easily the “Poke a Little Fun in Washington” sing-a-along he used in between each personations and which made us feel like we were at a Rotary Club somewhere.
See it at the beginning of this clip:
The best part was David Letterman’s “Top Ten George W. Bush Moments”:
Here, President Bush explains why he won’t be funny.
Question: It’s admirable that President Bush wants to honor the VT victims by not being funny, but isn’t it sort of odd to say “I won’t be funny but I’ll let others be funny for me as I sit back and laugh”? Wouldn’t a real tribute be to skip the event all together?
Watch the entire event here:
Harry Shearer thinks that Bush’s decision to skip the funny stuff was a bit odd:
But it’s okay to crack jokes every other year while we’re at war and hundreds of young people the same age as the VT students are dying in Iraq directly because of the decisions of the man doing standup? If this Presidential moment wasn’t crass and cheesy, wrapping his reluctance to engage in the ritual inside a sanctimonious concern for–the sentiments of the families who couldn’t care less what was going on at the Hilton, the delicate feelings of those in the room who’d had to work in Virginia this week?–then I don’t know crass and cheesy.
And I think I do.
Oh, and what did President Bush think of Little’s routine? He thought it was “absolutely perfect.”
From E&P: “Bush Doesn’t Joke at WHCA Dinner Due to Virginia Tech Killings — But Rich Little Says ‘Nuts’”
(Oh and the Canadians didn’t appreciate Little’s Canadian jokes.)