Best White House Correspondents Dinner jokes from historian Ron Chernow

A dispatch from the future

For the first time in decades, the White House Correspondents Dinner won’t feature a comedian.

Washington’s “nerd prom” brought us some great moments in political comedy — most notably Stephen Colbert’s fake defense of George W. Bush in 2006 — and some meh moments too. But no matter how many jokes landed, the dinner always gave a comedian a platform to speak truth to power, knocking self-important politicians and media figures down a peg at their own party.

But not anymore.

Bush sat there while Colbert mocked him to his face, but Trump’s too big a snowflake to handle it. The only senior White House official to attend last year was Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. And when comedian Michelle Wolf made fun of her, Republicans were so offended — or were so eager to pretend to be offended — that the media felt compelled to pretend to be offended as well.

As a result, the Correspondents’ Association decided this year’s speaker will be Ron Chernow, a historian with best-selling biographies on George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John D. Rockefeller, and others.

But little do they know, Chernow’s ready to bring the funny. I’ve recently returned from the future, and here are the best zingers from an unexpectedly enjoyable evening:

  • Did you know Lincoln was a Republican? Lotta people don’t know that … But I do!
  • First Ladies be shoppin’. Am I right, fellas? This guy knows what I’m talking about.
  • Ben Franklin’s here. Ben Franklin, ladies and gentlemen. So nice of you to take a break between bouts of syphilis to join us.
    <camera cuts to Franklin laughing uproariously>
  • How ‘bout that Electoral College? No safe spaces at that one.
  • James Madison was so short …
    Crowd: How short was he?
    James Madison was so short he makes Ben Shapiro look like James Comey!
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lost reelection last year. Is losing as bad as you dread, Scott?
  • Whaaat’s the deal with Air Force One food?
  • Thomas Jefferson’s here. Tommy J himself. I hope someone told him today’s waitstaff is allowed to say no.
  • You guys hear of Jeff Bezos? I wouldn’t anti-trust that guy as far as I could throw ‘im.
  • Northerners oppress black people like this. But southerners oppress black people like this.
  • Alexander Hamilton, what can I say? Thanks for making me rich.
    <camera cuts to Puerto Rican guy in the audience>
    <crowd murmurs>
    <camera starts frantically cutting to every non-white man in the room>
    <awkward pause>
  • Robert E. Lee’s here. Hi, Bobby. Earlier tonight, General Lee fought hard to get to the buffet table. But it’s not because he was hungry. It’s because he’s such a staunch believer in states’ rights.
  • CNN. Oh, CNN. You need to get some common sense or I’m going to bring the pain … the Thomas Paine!
  • George Washington was asked to say something nice about President Trump, but chose not to appear because he cannot tell a lie. Just kidding. That whole chopped-down-the-cherry-tree thing is a myth. George Washington isn’t here today because he’s dead.