John Hodgman at the Radio and Television Correspondent’s Dinner, with Barack Obama.
Here’s Obama’s joke-filled speech.
UPDATE: The untravel blog has a good posting about Hodgman’s speech. Here’s some of it:
on one level, it’s just a bunch of silly, obscure jokes. On another level, the jokes mock their own obscurity. For example, there’s the moment where Hodgman refers to Obama as the “Kwisatz Haderach”. The joke gets two laughs: one from people who know what the hell a Kwisatz Haderach is, another when Hodgman mocks the people who were geeky enough to know what that is. (For the record, I laughed both times.) That sort of layered humor would be clever enough on its own.
But then there’s the third layer, where Hodgman’s ‘are you nerdy enough?’ questions are couched in the same language as the ‘are you liberal enough?’ questions about Obama (habeus corpus, transparency, torture, etc.). At that level, Hodgman seemed to be perfectly serious. He gets a ‘speaking truth to power’ moment, but frames it ironically. The irony isn’t directed at Obama but at liberal expectations about Obama. (Think of the contrast with Steven Colbert’s ‘truth to power’ approach when giving the same speech, where Bush himself was the target of the jokes.) It’s one of the most complicated political speeches (in terms of its layers of meaning) that I’m aware of.