News & Criticism

A Little Humor

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Very Little, as in Rich Little, your host for this year's White House Correspondents Association dinner.

Fresh off his 1976 television show, The Rich Little Show aired by the National Broadcasting Company until later in 1976, Little has recently hit the Indian casino circuit.

In 2003 Little released what was billed as "a patriot treat for every generation" in the form of a DVD called The Presidents. The 122 minute disc features Little doing nine presidents and various other Washington staples, like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. Throughout Little promises "a deep respect for the Oval Office while dramatically reflecting our country, our culture and ourselves."

Think this approach was attractive to the Beltway crowd who last year got hit right between the eyes by Stephen Colbert? E&P reports:

"My approach is to try to make it a comfortable venue that is enjoyable, funny and interesting," said Steve Scully, president of the White House Correspondents Association, who chose Little. "But you don't want to offend anyone." He cited the slogan for the Washington Gridiron Dinner, which says, "singe, don't burn."

Another scribey, Ron Hutcheson of McClatchy Newspapers, advises that, "We don't need to have a blogfest and a partisan slugfest after the dinner. We don't need that."

Ah, yes—actual news and national interest. No need of that. No need of the most serious and direct criticism of Beltway newsgathering in, oh, forever. And newspapers wonder why more and more people are deciding they do not need newspapers.

Have fun folks. Bringing Little in after Colbert is like having Pat Boone follow the MC5. Too little, too late—and too telling.

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  1. Rich Little
    Funny
    Does not compute.

  2. This makes sense, it’s kind of like what the NFL did with the Super Bowl after the whole NippleGate. Who’d they bring in the next year? Paul McCartney.

  3. “We don’t need to have a blogfest and a partisan slugfest after the dinner.”

    Well, Colbert’s uncharacteristically pathetic routine truly bit the big one, as did his predecessor’s, so maybe a bit of vanilla ice cream after the crab cakes will be a soothing and familiar finale.

  4. Hey, Rich Little’s “A Christmas Carol” special was funny!

  5. “Who’d they bring in the next year? Paul McCartney.”

    McCartney was actually a pretty good show.

    I saw Rich Little back in the early 80s. He was still doing Nixon (alot) and most of his various “impressions” sounded suspiciously similar.

  6. Hey, lighten up! The correspondents just want someone who will remind them of when they were middle-aged.

  7. Colbert’s uncharacteristically pathetic routine truly bit the big one

    Really? I thought it was pretty damn funny. Maybe it was just me and Scalia laughing.

  8. Brian, don’t you know that you can’t be cool if you like something that other people like? You get pretension points for hating something popular. It’s like saying ‘The problem with Borat wasn’t that it was offensive; it’s that it wasn’t funny at all.’ Or calling Braveheart ‘the worst movie ever made.’ Both of which I’ve seen, often.

    How can you have indy cred if you like something anyone else likes?

  9. For your information, I’m practicing my impression of Stephen Colbert.

    You’re on notice… truthiness… truthiness…

  10. isildur,

    Oh, good, then at least I can get back a little indie cred, since Braveheart and Gladiator are my least-favorite-movies ever. I am an indie god!

  11. Braveheart and Gladiator are my least-favorite-movies ever.

    You can’t hate those movies. I was hating those movies before you were born!

  12. What’s more offensive, Colbert making fun of the President, or the President joking about being completely wrong about one of the main rationales for the war? Too bad they can’t keep him off the bill.

  13. or the President joking about being completely wrong about one of the main rationales for the war?

    That was funny until I realized American soldiers were setting up the punchline.

  14. “Colbert’s uncharacteristically pathetic routine truly bit the big one.”

    Name someone who has done a more devastating routine at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, and I’ll eat every page of Swift on my bookshelves. The only one I can think of who’s fit to polish Colbert’s codpiece was Franken circa 1997/8? Maybe the satirical onslaught was just too much for you ed.

  15. “Colbert’s uncharacteristically pathetic routine truly bit the big one”

    You’re certainly entitled to the opinion that Colbert isn’t funny, but how exactly was his routine “uncharacteristically pathetic”? It was the same schtick he does night-in/night-out on his show. And it was damn funny, IMHO.

    He made fun of the POTUS, he made fun of the lapdogs in the press and he pissed off Laura Bush. What more do you want?

    On the other hand, I fully expect Rich Little to be characteristically pathetic. The only thing that sucks worse than clowns or magic is hacky impressions, and The Man of “A Thousand” Voices delivers in spades.

    Seriously, Rich Little? If they wanted to suck the funny out of the room, they could have just brought back Imus. I mean, was Jerry Lewis busy? Did Dom DeLuise not return their calls?

  16. My favorite scene from Braveheart is when our 40-something hero goes out on a muddy date and the lass’s father adresses him as “young Wallace”. My sides ached.

  17. “Braveheart and Gladiator are my least-favorite-movies ever.”

    How can you even tell them apart?

  18. Elliott,

    It was uncharacteristically pathetic because his routine usually delivers. On that particular night it fell flat. I was uncomfortable for him, and disappointed. But then, no one, ever, will dynamite the room quite like Imus did at Clinton’s bash.

  19. pinko | January 17, 2007, 3:31pm | #

    “Colbert’s uncharacteristically pathetic routine truly bit the big one.”

    Name someone who has done a more devastating routine at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner

    See above.

  20. I thought Rich Little was an outstanding entertainer back in the 70’s. Course I was a preteen at the time.

    Braveheart bit because it was the typical Hollywood revision of perfectly good history.

    What I liked about Colbert last year, was his searing attack on lapdog press. I think Jeff’s got it right. “We’re sorry, we didn’t know. Now that we understand that making fun of people can hurt their feelings, we won’t do it anymore”.

  21. I just really would love to hear Rich Little scream, “Kick out the jams, motherfucker!”

  22. Sigh. That’s back when Colbert was cool.

    He jumped the shark bit time when he wimped out of his heavily-promoted guitar challenge in the most unimaginative way possible. Couldn’t his writers have come up with something better?!

  23. Are you people nuts? I loved Braviator and Gladheart!

  24. Imus sucked. Calling someone a “scumbag” isn’t funny.

    Saying apparently complimentary things that, taken together, make it clear that the the subject is a scumbag – that’s funny. Imus was just a little kid saying swear words.

  25. Imus was just a little kid saying swear words.

    And…his victim was the Clintons. Don’t forget that, joe.

  26. “Braveheart and Gladiator are my least-favorite-movies ever.”

    How can you even tell them apart?

    Yeah, f’in aussies…they all look and sound alike…even when they are affecting Scots and Spaniards!

  27. That mumbling sound you just heard was everyone under 35 saying “who the fuck is Rich Little?”

  28. I’m just amazed to see a reference to the MC5. Rama Lama, Fa Fa Fa!

  29. “And…his victim was the Clintons. Don’t forget that, joe.”

    Given that he had such a rich vein of humor to mine, the fact that he sucked so badly is even more damning..

    I mean, Clintons = funny, I don’t care who you are. How can you not get a laugh out of that? Oh, right, you act like a jerk and forget to tell jokes.

  30. If Ron Paul becomes president, then I’d like to see Penn & Teller host the dinner. Actually, I’d like to see that no matter who occupies the White House.

  31. Rich Little has done some funny bits like the meeting of the former presidents to play poker.

    Ford to Nixon: Dick, it’s your turn to ante.
    Nixon: Oh, pardon me, Jerry.
    an exasperated Ford: I already did.

    OK, maybe you need the voices to make it funny.
    Still, if they truly want to suck the humor from this event, call in Mark Russell.

  32. i hear michael richards is available.

    i would love to see that!

  33. I thought Rich Little was an outstanding entertainer back in the 70’s.

    Well, they managed to bring back the rest of the Nixon gang to DC. Seems fitting to resurrect a comedian from that era.

  34. Except… the MC5 didn’t blow.

  35. I was hoping for “Puppetry of the Penis”.

    A longshot, I know, but they could have invited 42 onstage for a cameo.

    Either that, or maybe Rush Limbaugh could appear and do some of his impressions of the disabled.

    I think they punted when they chose Little, and only picked him because of the recent Ford/Nixon pardon nostalgia.

  36. Rich Little is that guy that looks just like Bill Frist, right?

  37. “…like having Pat Boone follow the MC5…”

    Kick out the jams, boys and girls!

  38. I hope Rich Little does a good Steven Colbert…

  39. Little’s First Family (Reagan era) album was actually pretty funny.

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