Wanda Sykes Tapped to Mock Obama at White House Correspondents Dinner, But Will She Go Easy?

Associated Press reports the White House Correspondents Association has announced the high-profile comedian to host its annual dinner: black lesbian comic Wanda Sykes, turning over a new leaf after the usual pattern of pale male performers. AP’s White House reporter explained: "Jennifer Loven of The Associated Press is president of the association and chose Sykes because of her fresh style and engaging stage presence."

It should be a real test of whether anyone can make fun of Obama. Sykes is hardly known as an Obama critic. Newsweek’s commemorative inaugural edition included a brief essay by Sykes rejoicing in Obama’s victory:

Now when we say "United States of America," it rings true. We believe it. Now we all have a seat at the dinner table instead of standing behind with mouths watering watching others eat.

However, as a lesbian, I’m coming up a little short, my plate is light. I am being denied full access to the benefits of being an American. In California, the passage of Proposition 8, which took away the right to marry for same-sex couples, was devastating. Just my luck – in the same night we elect the first African-American president, I get knocked down to second-class citizen status.

That’s how it feels when you’re discriminated against: second-class, second-rate, not good enough, disrespected. "You’re not the Biggest Loser."

Sykes concluded in that Newsweek piece that she was optimistic Obama would come around on pushing for same-sex unions:

Obama has said on several occasions he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman,. I have hope that we will see that his beliefs are just that, his beliefs, which are contrary to what the Declaration of Independence says, "that all men are created equal."

He’s a very smart guy. I’m sure he will eventually get that his beliefs should not infringe on my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The same way he feel in love with a beautiful woman and had the right to marry her, I should be able to do the same.

AP’s article insists that Sykes will mock Obama, at least on lame standard-issue jokes like he speaks too long:

She said it's her job to "poke fun and ridicule," and even a popular figure like Obama isn't off limits. She already has some ideas about what she could mine for laughs. For example, she noted, Obama can be "a little long-winded. So we can get him on that."

...Sykes expects fumbles in the Obama administration between now and the correspondents' dinner.

"I'm not rooting against him at all, because, especially in this economy and everything, we need him to succeed," she says. "But there's gonna be some incidents and missteps, like we saw with the whole tax thing."

If the WHCA was mocked in liberal circles for picking a right-leaning comedian like Rich Little to roast President Bush, certainly picking this Obama fan to roast President Obama ought to be at least as questionable to those who would like an appearance of independence, not favoritism.

As for her approach to Republicans, there's always her appearance last year with Jay Leno about the "evil" GOP convention:

SYKES: Well, you know, I watched the convention. you know, watching the Democratic Convention, it felt like America. You know, it looked like America. It was hopeful and it was positive and, you know, everybody holding hands. And then I watched the Republican Convention. It was like watching a meeting in Dr. Evil's lair.

LENO: Wow.

SYKES: It was like all of the evil people got together, and they were having an evil board meeting.

LENO: Really?

SYKES: And each of them, you know, at the board meeting all got up, and each one would tell their plan of how they're gonna, what they're going to do with the evil. and it was just so tense and scary. 'Cause you know those Dr. Evil board meetings, somebody gets it.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis