WASHINGTON — “Saturday Night Live” comedian Cecily Strong delivered a series of one-liners Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner that jumped from candidate to candidate and from one news agency to the next.
Strong’s rapid fire delivery touched on everything from the 2016 presidential election to the controversial Indiana religious freedom law. Here are her top 10:
1. Policing and the President
It’s not easy to tie in President Barack Obama’s rapid aging in the White House and the roiling controversy surrounding race and policing.
But Strong pulled it off, joking to Obama: “Your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police.”
That came after she pointed out that while Obama’s approval rating was at 48% after six years in office, his gray hair had taken over “85%” of his head.
2. Good ol’ C-SPAN
It’s not the White House Correspondent’s Dinner without a good joke at C-SPAN’s expense.
“To some viewers watching at home on C-SPAN, ‘Hello.’ But to most viewers watching at home on C-SPAN, ‘Meow,'” Strong joked of the political broadcaster known for low viewership.
3. The J.V. team
In a reference to Obama’s early assertion that ISIS was equivalent to a J.V. squad — or perhaps to his policy fighting the terrorist group — Strong recalled that “Saturday Night Live” was criticized for joking about ISIS.
“If anyone is guilty of taking ISIS too lightly it’s them,” Strong said, nodding her head toward Obama.
4. Fox and the watching dead
It’s no secret many Fox News viewers are on the later end of the age spectrum, but Strong gave a new explanation for ratings dips the network may have experienced.
“Fox News has been losing a lot of viewers lately, and may they rest in peace,” Strong joked.
Strong was equal opportunity, though, in picking on media outlets.
She joked about CNN’s lineup of non-news primetime shows (“Whenever a big news story breaks, I can turn to CNN and watch Anthony Bourdain eat a cricket.”).
Of Buzzfeed, she said she could conjure up a listicle of “17 reasons why they shouldn’t be” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
5. Religious freedom and pizza
Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law, and the political saga involving a pizzeria that said it would not cater a gay wedding made it into both Obama’s and Strong’s jokes.
“We tried to get Memories Pizza to cater this event but they heard a rumor Barney Frank was going to be here,” Strong said of the openly gay former congressman. “So thanks a lot, Barney. We could have had that world famous Indiana pizza.”
6. Clinton scandals
Strong reached all the way back to 2006 to knock Hillary Clinton over deleting a trove of emails housed on her personal server, with a joke that referenced the time model Naomi Campbell threw her phone at a maid.
“Now Naomi, you’re lucky Hillary Clinton is not here. Because if you threw your BlackBerry at her, she would just delete everything right off of it,” Strong joked.
And of Clinton’s excuse that she only used a personal email account as Secretary of State, Strong saw a more alluring reason:
“Hillary Clinton said that she used her private email because she didn’t want to use more than two devices. Now if that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also one of the rules of the sex contract of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,'” Strong suggested.
Strong also knocked Clinton on recent exposes tying foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation to policy decisions when she was Secretary of State:
“Our relationship [with Israel] will be better in the next administration, just as soon as Israel makes a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation,” Strong said.
Strong made it clear though that she’s all in for Hillary 2016 with a brief skit wondering who’s better than a host of Republican candidates, whispering “Hillary” after each name.
But who’s “better on the economy than Hillary? (Bill.)”
She joked that former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s potential run against Clinton in the primary was like “watching a dog look for its dead owner.”
And she delivered a burn to GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who better “get comfortable on camera before he has to go on T.V. to endorse Jeb (Bush).”
And Sen. Ted Cruz’s run is just an example of Republicans trying to find “the exact opposite of a black president,” Strong said.
“How about a Canadian Latino who’ll never be president?” Strong said, pointing out that Cruz was born in Canada.
Carly Fiorina? “Seems like a lot of work just to be a Fox News pundit.”
And Sen. Rand Paul? Well, he’s just taking over the family business of not getting elected President, Strong joked.
“That’s Rand as in, he didn’t get elected, but at least he Rand,” Strong joked.
8. Agency scandals
Strong knocked the Secret Service early on, joking that Obama said “finally, some decent security” when he saw the bellhops at the Washington Hilton, where the event was held.
But Strong wasn’t done with the Secret Service until she could use the scandal-ridden agency as a prop as she came back on the topic of race and policing.
“Let’s give it up for the Secret Service. I don’t want to be too hard on those guys. You know, because they’re the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”
The DEA — which was scandalized after agents hired prostitutes and had sex parties — also got skewered by Strong.
“President Obama came out in support for putting women on money — as opposed to DEA agents who prefer to put money on women.”
9. (Not so) Schock-ing jokes
Strong also dedicated a chunk of her time at the podium knocking disgraced former congressman Aaron Schock, who resigned after a string of potential ethics violations — some of which were discovered due to his prolific Instagram account.
She poked fun at Schock’s exotic getaways with a series of Schock photos into which Schock was Photoshopped in — from surfing to skydiving.
The jokes struck a cord with the Washington audience, but largely fell flat as they ran too long.
10. She & Obama go way back.
Finally, Strong, who, like Obama, calls the Chicago-area home, remembered the old days with Obama on a neighborhood basketball court.
“I’d lace up a pair of Jordans, he’d slip on a pair of my mom’s jeans and we would just miss three-pointers until sundown, when, of course, we’d have to stop and pray to Mecca.”