The nation’s capital is abuzz this weekend, as some of the biggest names in politics, media, and entertainment gathered for the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
The annual event—hosted Hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA)—returned to D.C. Saturday night after a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic. Launched in 1921, the black-tie dinner aims to celebrate reporters who cover the White House, as well as to raise funds for journalism programs and scholarships. However, it has become mostly known for its roasting element, as it traditionally features comics who crack jokes at the expense of attendees, including the President of the United States.
This year’s dinner is taking place at the Washington Hilton, with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah serving as host. Joe Biden is in attendance alongside first lady Jill Biden—marking his first appearance at the event since taking office in 2021. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Biden will deliver a speech during the event, but will take extra precautions amid concerns over COVID-19.
“He’s not attending the dinner portion. He’s coming for the program,” Psaki told reporters earlier this week. “He will likely wear a mask when he’s not speaking. Obviously, he’ll speak. And so he’ll be there for about an hour or 90 minutes, I guess, depending on how long Trevor Noah speaks and others speak in the program. But we took that additional step as well.”
Other notable attendees include Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, who made their red carpet debut at the dinner. Fat Joe, Kyla Pratt, Desus, Evan Mock, Chris Tucker, Drew Barrymore, Ziwe Fumudoh, Billy Eichner, and Martha Stewart were also among the 2,500-plus guests.
The Late Late Show host James Corden opened the event with a pre-taped skit filmed in the White House Briefing Room, the Oval Office, and the Navy Mess. Producer Bob Bain told Variety the dinner will also include a pre-taped Funny Or Die sketch starring Eichner.
“It is the nerd prom,” Bain said. “But what you’ve heard after the fact a lot of the time is, ‘This was the most boring dinner I’ve ever been to.’ We’re trying to eliminate that comment. What I have managed to do is sort of reformat the show so that it feels more like a variety presentation and moves a lot faster. Our entire show is only scheduled to go for an hour.”
Biden began his speech with some self-deprecating humor, telling the crowd: “I’m really excited to be with you tonight, the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have.”
POTUS went on to crack a few jokes about his age, as well as take a few shots at his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“This is the first time a president attended this dinner in since six years,” he said. “It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID. Just imagine if my predecessor came to this dinner, this year—now that would have been a real coup if that occurred.”
He also took some time to address the ongoing concerns about COVID.
“I know there are questions about whether we should gather here tonight because of COVID. Well, we’re here to show the country we’re getting through this pandemic,” he said, before taking aim at Fox News. “Plus, everyone had to prove they’re fully vaccinated and boosted. So if you’re at home watching this and are wondering how to [get vaccinated], just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They’re all here, vaccinated and boosted. All of ’em.”
Noah took the mic after Biden, and immediately touched on the COVID concerns.
“It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished super-spreader event,” he joked. “No, for real people, what are we doing here? … I mean I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you? What are you doing here? You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large in-door gatherings, and the second anyone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan.”
The comedian also encouraged the crowd to enjoy themselves during his bit, insisting he was not there to “tear anyone down,” just “gently” roast them.
“I’m not doing this just for the attention. I’m a comedian, not Kyrsten Sinema,” he said, before going in on on the Arizona senator. “By the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Who ever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual, but closeted Republican? That’s progress.”
Noah went on to praise Biden for actually showing up to the dinner, alluding to Trump’s refusal to attend the event in 2019.
“I’ll be honest. If you didn’t come, I totally would’ve understood,” he told POTUS. “These people have been so hard on you, which I don’t get. I really don’t. I think ever since you’ve come into office, things are really looking up. Gas is up, rent is up, food is up! Everything!”
You can watch a replay of the dinner via PBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel above.