Standing just a few feet away from the first POTUS to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner since 2016, Daily Show host Trevor Noah mixed the political with the pop culture to take an equal opportunity dig at everyone tonight — including the people who pay him the big bucks.
“I actually get why CBS hired Mick Mulvaney,” Comedy Central-based Noah noted of the controversial contract handed out to one of the Celebrity Apprentice host’s former chief of staff. “He’s more than just a guy who assured everyone that Donald Trump would concede gracefully, he can also get you access to other people who assured you that Donald Trump would concede, it’s very important,” he added.
“So shout out to CBS, my corporate cousin, Noah then went on to say at the so-called Nerd Prom with various CBS and Showtime brass in the Washington Hilton ballroom audience in front of him and a constantly laughing President Joe Biden. “You can actually find us on Paramount+ right between SpongeBob SquarePants and a bunch of movies even Delta’s in-flight entertainment system turned down,” the comedian said to hearty laughter from the crowd.
Making the expected swipes at the assembled politicians, especially Florida’s Governor and 2024 hopeful Ron DeSantis, the short shelf life of CNN+, the resignation of Jeff Zucker, fired Chris Cuomo’s grab for big bucks, and more, NYC-set Noah wasted little time dragging up the biggest entertainment story of the year so far out of LA.
“It is risky making jokes these days,” the Daily Show frontman told the packed and maskless crowd of around 2,500 of the media, Hollywood and DC’s power players, plus President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who was seated on the dais next to CBS Entertainment Group boss George Cheeks. “I mean, we all saw what happened at the Oscars,” he said of Will Smith’s widely condemned and globally televised slap of Chris Rock on March 27.
Then Noah leaned into what was arguably his best quip of the night.
“I’ve actually been a little worried about tonight. What if I make a really mean joke about Kellyanne Conway, and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?
For the most part, over his long(ish) routine, Noah tried to kill the crowd with with his stock in trade kindness and a smile. Everyone got stung, but no one really got burned …well, unless you work for Fox News Channel – which is always a crowd pleaser to almost everyone at these things over the last dozen years or so.
A hit with at least one target market, Biden himself, Noah initially praised “the kings of cable, Fox News.” Citing the outlet, which POTUS wrapped repeatedly in his own earlier WHCD remarks, Noah compared the quality of fact-based news on FNC to a Waffle House. “It’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but as soon as the sun goes down there is a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in,” the South African-born comic jabbed.
Like with Biden, and before him Barack Obama at various WHCDs, Noah had FNC in his sights almost from the top of his routine. Taking the whole power elite to task for actually daring to even hold the WHCD in person after around 80 attendees of the “super spreader” Gridiron Dinner earlier this month tested positive for Covid, Noah named names. “I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you, what are you doing?” he bellowed. “You spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large indoor gatherings,” Noah continued. “Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you turn into Joe Rogan.”
Noah made a distinct point of noting that White House Science Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci “thought it was too dangerous” to come to the dinner, the MC turned the spotlight to the date of the biggest star in the place – “Pete Davidson thinks it’s OK.”
Slamming FNC’s Covid coverage for moving viewers “into the ICU,” Noah did praise Hannity for being “the long running host in cable news history.” Of course, those nice words didn’t wash the stink off FNC from the tux-wearing host, nor get Hannity off the hook. “Fun fact: Sean Hannity and Ainsley Earhardt are actually dating now,” he said of the FNC colleagues. “I actually think it’s beautiful to see an office romance at Fox that won’t end in a $20 million dollar settlement,” Noah chided by speaking of the long scandal that still defines FNC in the eyes and hearts of many.
“I’m sure where ever Roger Ailes is right now, he’s looking up and smiling,” the comedian said to stoney faces at the Fox News tables and a Guaranteed pillorying on Monday on the outlet.
With not much to lose Fox-wise at that point, Noah doubled down in reference to FNC firestarter and WHCD attendee Laura Ingraham. “Wow, what can you say about her that hasn’t already been said by the Anti-Defamation League?” he proclaimed before roughing Tucker Carlson up as bit.
Perhaps hoping to escape a complete partisan backlash, Noah ended his remarks with some thoughts on the beauty and benefits of press freedom in America especially during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He tossed in a not-so-gentle dig at the painful exit from Afghanistan lsat year by the President sitting close-by. “Please be careful leaving tonight, we all know this administration doesn’t handle evacuations well,” Noah said to a standing ovation seconds before shaking hands with Biden