How did comedian Hasan Minhaj do at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?

When President Barack Obama was in office, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was much-watch TV. Obama went to the WHCD every year he was in office. He always made a speech and he always honored the free press and journalism stateside and around the world. I don’t think Donald Trump was in office for one full month before he announced that he would not attend this year’s WHCD. It was basically the White House equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum – Emperor Bigly was in a total snit (and he’s still in a total snit) about the press being “mean” to him. He honestly believes that the press corps is merely there to prop up his dictatorship, like America is a banana republic and he can “order” the press to do whatever he says. So, that’s why he canceled. He threw his own party/rally last night in Pennsylvania and of course it was full of alternative facts.

As for the WHCD, Bob Woodward spoke and the celebrity/comedian keynote speaker was Daily Show comedian Hasan Minhaj. Honestly, I didn’t watch this last night. I watched Roger Federer, John Isner, Bill Gates and Mike McCready play tennis for charity in Seattle! That was a much better way to spend some time (and Gates has a surprisingly good passing shot). So, I only started watching Minhaj’s speech this morning. It was… okay. I mean, it’s one thing to speak truth to power when power is sitting in the room. It’s another thing to make King Joffrey jokes about someone who isn’t even there. Here’s the speech:

Okay. He did what he could and it was a tough gig, and he seemed nervous. But are we supposed to give him points for saying what everyone else is saying? Eh.

Photos courtesy of Getty.

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56 Responses to “How did comedian Hasan Minhaj do at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?”

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  1. Christin says:

    If the thin-skinned one were roasted, it would just give his blind supporters more things to whine about.

    I didn’t watch, either, because it’s getting harder to find humor in grifting and making the super-rich even wealthier.

    • original kay says:

      I agree with you. The fact he made it to 100 days at all is so profoundly disturbing.

      • Cath B. says:

        Agree as well. It’s getting harder to even enjoy the satire and jokes. I’m not a journalist, but when (for lack of a better cliche) are the “tough questions” actually going to start? The pieces I’ve seen of reporters in the press room are stunning. There is so much restraint it seems, so much going at these guys like it’s any other administration. And the interviewers who do speak with #45, why are they not showing him clips of his lies and vitriol and asking him to his face why he said such and such, etc.?

    • Bree says:

      The super rich includes Obama, he’s getting 65 million for his upcoming books. Crickets on any outrage.

      • Alyce says:

        Why should there be outrage? He is no longer holds public office. He is free to spend and make money any (legal) way he wants.

      • Alp says:

        Literally like every other president. And crickets? Please, there are so many “alt-right” complaining about how it’s proof he’s selling out and is the face of corporate America. Bet they don’t see the irony in that. And surprising (only to those who think racism is made up) there wasn’t nearly as much noise (if any) made when previous presidents did that.

  2. Nancy says:

    I enjoyed the dinners. They were funny and gave the President and Press a chance to relax. But since humor and relaxation aren’t in trump’s dna, of course he wouldn’t come, first president to miss the event in 36 years when Reagan couldn’t come because he just got shot. Just gotta love trump and his indifference to history and tradition. Asshat.

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      …yes, and the first POTUS since NIXON to refuse to go.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, it’s his indifference that galls me most of all. Although in this case I think his insecurity was at the forefront, knowing he’d be roasted by some pretty smart people and knowing he doesn’t have the intellectual or verbal ability to even begin to keep up.

      • Christin says:

        The more I see of his behavior and that of his more ardent supporters, I think you’ve hit a common thread. It’s a combination of personal insecurity and ability to handle logical debating. The deflection and insulting others is a mask for it.

    • Becky says:

      Did George W attend all of them?

      • Bridget says:

        Yes. Including the infamous year it was hosted by Colbert.

      • Lightpurple says:

        Yes, he did. Fifteen Presidents have attended the dinners, going back to when they began in the 1920s. Harding, who was president when it started, did not attend but his staff did. Coolidge was the first to attend and every President since, until now, has attended at least once. At the request of Helen Thomas, Kennedy threatened to boycott because the dinner was “Male Only.” The ban on women was lifted, Thomas got her invite, and Kennedy attended. Nixon attended six times and his memo for why he wouldn’t attend the next one, written immediately after attending one, is hilarious and scathing. Carter adopted an “every other year” policy, agreeing with Nixon’s memo in a way. Reagan missed once because of he was hospitalized after being shot. Since that cancellation, the President, whoever it was, has attended every dinner – a streak of over 30 years. Until now.

  3. Alexandria says:

    Can’t watch the video yet. But if he’s making jokes criticising DT, yes he still gets points because that’s not what everyone else is saying. If everyone thinks DT is bad, he wouldn’t be Prez. These jokes and criticism need to continue.

    • BelleEpoch says:

      I thought Minhaj did great! He said up front he was forbidden to do any Trump-bashing, which made his job difficult. I thought people seemed delighted that Trump wasn’t there. He also had moments of great sincerity.

  4. Des says:

    It was pretty clear he was ready to say it to DT’s face and that he knows DT will be obsessively watching from his toilet throne and tweeting about it, so yes he does get points actually.

  5. Olenna says:

    IMO, Hasan killed it but most of the audience sat there looking like they’d eaten some bad fish and wished they’d gotten the prime rib instead. His CNN roast was perfection, though, and he is so darn cute it ain’t funny.

    • nemera34 says:

      He was so good. I enjoyed him very much. He told some hard truths to the Press that they needed to here. I hope they take note. And he the things he said about Trump were the truth. I loved his take on the Press being the Minority. And that they need to report from that stand point. He was so spot on so many points. And it was eye opening. The Press has a tough JOB to do. And we do need them to do it the best they can.

    • Janetdr says:

      He was very good, hard on the press as well as the current administration and extremely adorable!

    • Really? says:

      Credit should be given where credit is due. I thought he was better than Samantha Bee’s nWHCD monologues as well as Wilmore and Conan’s WHC speeches during Obama’s tenure. Had Trump actually been there, the WHC would’ve chosen someone less critical such as Fallon.

    • Pinetree13 says:

      Yeah what was up with that audience? He was amazing! I loved it!!

  6. Eric says:

    Samantha Bee cracked skulls last night with her show, not only skewering Emperor Zero but the media (especially talking head segments on CNN that include Jeffery Lord Voldemort, Kayleigh Excuse-maker, and the repugnant Jason Miller with his nasty Goatee).

    Samantha is a Hero!

    • KB says:

      Kayleigh McEnany is such a joke. She’s like a parody of a Republican. Is she just a plant to make conservatives look uninformed and unintelligent? I’ve literally stopped watching CNN because of her and that slow-talking southern guy with the glasses.

      Why can’t they find more Republicans like Ana Navarro? Surely there is more than one Republican with common sense and principles?

  7. SusanneToo says:

    This is what trump aspires to. To be like Duterte. He has invited him to the WH.
    And Duterte aspires to be Hitler.

    • Megan says:

      I find this invitation deeply disturbing. I assume Maduro is next on the invitation list.

    • Anna says:

      Wow. I dont know what to say anymore. The Dictators of the world unite. wtf are we going to do? I’m very afraid.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      It is sickening. Yes, refuse the WHCD honor/roast and dine with brutal dictator. It is no joke that Tr*mp intends to kill free press and enslave us all with propaganda. Biggest threat to democracy in our lifetime. I hope to god that the wheels of justice are in motion behind the scenes somewhere. Keep calling your representatives (despite the new automated calling feature that of course makes it harder to get through…)

    • Cannibell says:

      Thanks for posting this – I heard it this morning and was horrified. It’s one thing to work with Southeast Asian allies on Korea-related matters; it’s quite another to invite him to the White House. Especially when you’re openly dissing your neighbors……

  8. robyn says:

    I watched Hasan. He did a super job. He made fun of the media sharply as well as Trump. It took guts to face this room and he did it with finesse, toughness and humility. He hit hard about the freedom of the press, too, and pointed out that thanks to Trump the press is now very much like a “minority” being judged by its worst representative. He also made a great observation about trust vs truth. He said, “… we’re living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth.”

    • nemera34 says:

      There were moments in his monologue that actually made me teary. Just the REALNESS of what he said. He did kill it.

      If people haven’t seen it they need to. Humor/Comedy has such truth in it core. And it seems that this is how people are being reached with this Man in Office. Comedians are becoming the Truth Sayers.

      • Corrie Leitch says:

        I agree. I’m British but I watched the video this morning and I thought he did an excellent job in difficult circumstances. The balance between roasting President Golfs-a-Lot and making some serious points about press reaponsibility in what is a very challanging atmosphere for American journalists at the moment was well done. I didn’t get the impression he was nervous either

  9. Monsi says:

    I loved it! He was funny, made some pretty good points about the part that media played in the election of Evil Traffic Cone, its hypocresy, how is to be a minority, and a personal favorite when we mentioned the reaction of Latin American and Middle East people to the US Press telling us how is like that a “foreign power” meddles in your elections ha! (for example in 1972 in Chile the Cia paid the truckers Union so they would make strike so there wouldn’t be food available in the country….of course the worst would come later with the coup financed and backed by the US and the following dictatorship)

    I love Rachel Maddow but his jokes about her show were hilarious and accurate.

    And after the openly and unapologetic islamophobic rhetoric ths administration has had, I think is great that young Muslim man was the one that got this gig.

    • perplexed says:

      Yeah, I thought he was better than what the above post described. I was surprised when he said the leader couldn’t make it from Moscow. D’oh. I thought even the jokes about golfing were funny.

      In any other room, I think those jokes would have gotten a lot of laughs, but maybe people in this particular room were ordered to be as lukewarm possible. Or maybe the media is upset that the comedians are calling out Trump in ways they’re not doing. It was the vibe of the room I found a little weird, but I thought he was fine.

    • sanders says:

      I thought he was very funny. Why did the room seems so uncomfortable? If anyone should have felt uncomfortable, it’s Hassan. Yikes, brown muslim man in front of a predominantly all white and disapproving looking audience and he held his own. Totally see him in a different light and will watch is upcoming netflix special.

      I wonder if a white guy. like stewart, colbert or even a white woman like Bee, were making these pointed jokes about racism in the trump administration, if it would have had a better audience response. I know that in my own experience that poc talking to white people about racism can create a defensiveness that may not be there if it comes out of the mouth of a white person. I can count on my one hand the number of my white friends I can speak to openly speak about racism without it getting into a weird tribal defense of the white identity.

      He took a big risk making jokes about trump if he was told not to. He is from a minority group that is literally being murdered right now. Even brown hindus and sikhs are being attacked. In this really scary climate, he has put it out there that he is a Muslim. I admire him for this.
      All in all, I thought he was excellent and also don’t get why the post said it wasn’t funny.

  10. Snowflake says:

    Really good speech. Hilarious when he said our leader couldn’t make it from Moscow.

  11. Bridget says:

    He did fine, but everyone in that room probably wished they were at Samantha Bee’s event.

    • aquarius64 says:

      I plan to watch Samantha Bee on YouTube. I saw the Allison Janney part and that was funny, and to the point.

  12. aquarius64 says:

    I saw the dinner coverage because I certainly did not want to watch the pity party in PA. Minhaj was ok overall; he got off some hits on both the press and Trump and valued freedom of the press and free speech. But what bothered me was the guests were not laughing. It was either the jokes weren’t funny to them or those journalists didn’t want to be caught on camera laughing out of fear of being dragged on Twitter or being banned forever from the White House press room. When Minhaj joked that he was told not to crack on Trump in absentia (and the president of WHCA quickly denied it on live broadcast) it told me that Trump has them cowed to a degree. Now more than ever the media needs to push back on this deceitful administration – on every level.

  13. Brandi says:

    He did GREAT. Especially the end. Bravo. Well deserved standing ovation.

  14. Luca76 says:

    No opinion on the comedian but I actually think it’s good that this event got marginalized. The press shouldn’t be cozying up to the President whether the president is the awesome Obama or the deplorable Orange Man. I think it’s tragic we had to get to this place to realize so many things have to be done with more integrity.

  15. why? says:

    His speech was great. He also talked about how he was told not to talk about Trump and his administration, but decided that this would be doing a disservice since we are living in a time where Trump lies nonstop and is doing so much damage.

    The only part I didn’t like were his comments about Rachel Maddow. Rachel Maddow and her staff do their homework and it’s great that she is willing to call out all of Trump’s ties to Russia, especially when so many journalists and people are losing their lives for daring to stand up to Putin. Rachel doesn’t give us a false sense of who Trump is like Haylee Jackson(tried to push the nonsense that Trump was a new and changed man after seeing photos of those kids in Syria and said that it was only a handful of people who booed Ivanka), Kelly Odonnell(when the news about the courts blocking the Muslim ban was reported, she tried to say that Trump was calm when he heard the news), and Kristen Welker(tried to push the nonsense that Trump was a new and changed man after seeing photos of those kids in Syria), who are more concerned with keeping their spot in Spicer’s briefings or being able to travel with Trump. When everyone was jumping on the “Trump is presidential for dropping bombs”, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence, Maxine Waters, Joy Reid, Dan Rather, Malcolm Nance, were some of the few people who called the media out for being irresponsible. I noticed that many of the people in the audience were the same people who attend Spicer’s daily briefings, and it looked like they were afraid to laugh or even support his jokes for fear that they would lose their spot in Spicer’s briefings.

    I thought that Trump decided not to attend because celebrities and journalists were refusing to attend the WHCD if he was there. Trump desperately wants the approval of Hollywood and when he saw that celebrities weren’t going to be there, he decided not to go.

  16. Rapunzel says:

    Meanwhile, Trump’s bragging about his rally, calling Dems obstructionists (literally impossible), and saying Obamacare is dead (lie).

  17. Hazel says:

    I thought he did great! That’s all I’ve got.

  18. Rae says:

    I’ve just watched it and he was hilarious.

    I agree with the posters who noted the frigid room, there were definitely a few put out faces, but I was cackling like a mad women.

  19. Lyla says:

    I thought he was great.

    Did anyone catch drumpf’s fox interview where has said the rules of congress needs to be changed. So that they can’t act as a check on his power. Un-f-ing-believable.

  20. unmade_bed says:

    Watching the room’s reaction was pretty disheartening. A wealthy, young woman from my Trump-majority hometown is shown several times in the video shaking her head and looking disgusted. I’m pretty sure she is a low-level aide of some sort, so perhaps much of the jeering came from non-media sycophants.

    On an aside, I’m surprised that Celebitchy didn’t appreciate Hassan’s contribution, as it seems right down its ideological alley. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind this site’s complaint that he’s “saying what everyone else is saying.” I’m honestly curious as to how he could have done better?

  21. Bethie says:

    I’m not sure he should have held back against Trump just because he “wasn’t even in the room.” He was invited and didn’t go because he’s a chode.

  22. Persephone says:

    I recently watched Bassem Youssef’s doco Tickling Giants, I suspect many on the far right would love to do to political comedians what the Egyptian government did.

  23. MrsPanda says:

    I enjoyed it, especially the CNN segment! I think he had every right to mock Bigly, as it was Bigly’s choice to be a Bigly Baby and not attend. I see Kaiser’s point about ‘not much new’ material though. I think we have such good daily satire (The Daily Show, Seth Meyers, Steven Colbert, etc) that so much ground is already covered. We live in a time where Team Potus is so incredibly insane, therefore our satirists and comedians bring their A game on a daily basis. Our expectations are as high for comedians as they are low for POTUS. So I think this event was a huge challenge for a comedian and overall he did a nice job. The audience were appalling and the camera lingered too long on them which detracted from his performance.

  24. Cannibell says:

    All props to Hasan Minhaj. We saw his “Prom King” show recently. What I’ve seen so far of his Correspondent’s Dinner speech echoed that in expressing his deep love for and commitment to his country and its values, his concern about President Trumpelstiltskin and his faith in the power of all that’s gone before this moment in history to get us through it.

    • robyn says:

      As I said before, Hasan did a great job at the dinner. He showed a lot more love for the USA than the Trump voter/cultist/supporters who don’t care about the First Amendment or the fact that Russia interfered with democracy and the election.

  25. QQ says:

    I didn’t watch cause i forgot but MY.F*CKING.GOD. Is.THIS. MAN. BEAUTIFUL

  26. Mehmeh says:

    You keep using “banana republic”… I don’t think this word means what you think it means.