One of the things I have come to appreciate about US presidents is their sense of humor and their ability to make satire of their own country, administration and themselves. I chanced upon a dinner speech by Obama during WHCA dinner and have since tried to locate these videos of other Presidents and sometimes non-Presidents too.

White House standup routines avoid the usual motifs on racism, sex; are not gross and places a certain element of expectation on part of the audience to be able to understand it.

Not only do they make fun of their opponents and themselves, but also invite the opponents to the very event where they are being made fun of. Obama, for example, invites McCain to the dinner and roasts him. McCain in turn roasts Obama and the democrats.

They don’t do mudslinging during these speeches, though the motifs have a subtle political flavor. For example, Obama says “I came prepared for a much longer routine, but I am going to have to shorten it, since the secret services have to return home for their newly implemented curfew”. He says about Rahm Emmanuel, “He lost his middle finger to an accident [which is true], thus rendering him mute”.

There is wit, intelligence, timing, satire in what they do and it is hard not to love that.

Bush once did the extreme by asking Craig Ferguson to play Bush (even wear Bush facemasks) and both the Bush’s were talking on the same podium.

That these scripts are created by comedy professionals, reviewed by the White House officials over and over for appropriateness, and the President in most cases was just reading it — was hardly surprising and I even find it worthless mentioning, because that takes away the magic in what they do.

Here are some of the speeches I found most hilarious.

Obama 2012 2011 2010 2009
Bush 2008 2007 2006