Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
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Whether you liked Barack Obama or not, you can probably agree that at least he was a president who could open his mouth without the majority of our nation cringing in fear. Part of Obama’s appeal was his sense of humor, which, unlike our current president’s, didn’t revel in the grabbing of pussies or the murder of anthropomorphized media outlets. Granted, it’s not like Obama wrote his own jokes; instead, that was done by people like Crooked Media’s Jon Lovett and David Litt, the latter of whom recently released a new memoir, Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.

Vulture just shared an excerpt from that book detailing Litt’s efforts in writing gut-busters for Obama, namely those for the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and it contains plenty of amusing, behind-the-scenes insights. For example, in the midst of Litt’s experience culling humor from hot mic faux pas and revelations of dog eating, he watched Obama come this close to telling a dick joke.

Jon Lovett returned from Los Angeles for the dinner that year, and on the morning of April 29, he, Favs, and I did one final run-through in the Oval. By now the script was nearly final. In fact, we had only one new line to run by President Obama. During a recent speech, Vice President Biden had remarked that POTUS had a “big stick.” He was referring to foreign policy, but his hand gesture was, to put it mildly, undiplomatic. Jeff Nussbaum pounced.

“Let’s just put it this way,” read his joke. “Dreams aren’t the only thing I got from my father.”

POTUS laughed so loudly that I secretly hoped he would add the line to the script. But this was an election year; a presidential dick joke was a bridge too far.


One thing’s for sure: Diamond Joe would’ve loved it.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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