President Obama: Comedian or Avant-Garde Performance Artist? : Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! On Tuesday, President Obama made a real groaner of a joke in his State of the Union speech. A former presidential speechwriter tells us: it may have been performance art.
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President Obama: Comedian or Avant-Garde Performance Artist?

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From our "How To Do Everything" podcast:

How does a bad joke get into the State of the Union address? James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic and former chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, says there's only one way a joke like that gets in the speech:

The President must have wanted it to be there. [There are] an infinity of policy checks in the year before the State of the Union, but then the jokes have their own separate cadre of Hollywood experts. I can't imagine any Borscht Belt comedian or aspiring speechwriting talent who would try to push this joke on the President, unless President Obama either for high art reasons or low comedy reasons wanted to go with it.

Um, high art?

A year ago in his State of the Union speech, he had a similarly groan-out-loud joke about salmon. And so it's possible that he's doing a kind of performance art post-modern thing of, with a straight face, delivering one terrible joke per State of the Union address...I choose to think it was sort of a surrealist, absurdist moment, that he enjoyed the Simpsons-esque absurdity of it, as opposed to thinking it was funny.

Mr. Obama: The Andy Kaufman President.

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