Kenan Thompson to Host The White House Correspondents Dinner

Published on February 18, 2020

The White House Correspondents Dinner is coming up in April. For the last few years, President Donald Trump hasn’t attended the event. When he was a guest, he’d usually get mocked, but now that he’s President, he can no longer stand any jokes at his expense. Now, he just skips the event. Too bad for him, because this year, Kenan Thompson is hosting with comedian Hassan Minhaj providing entertainment as well. Considering Trump’s dislike of Saturday Night Live and good comedy, don’t expect him to make an appearance at this year’s dinner. Unless he’s reelected, he’ll be the first president never to attend one of the dinners. 

The Dinner

The dinner is meant to be a light-hearted affair about the relationship between politicians and the media… In the 80s, it blew up into something much bigger with movie and pop stars attending. It’s a night about as light as the Golden Globes, but every once in a while, it provides laughs, like when Stephen Colbert and Michelle Wolfe hosted. Without question, it boosted Wolfe’s career, too, who’s only continued to do great things since hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner. She killed it that night.

Kenan and Hassan

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he hasn’t hid his dislike of Saturday Night Live or their fairly softball gags about him. Needless to say, he’s probably not a fan of the show’s brilliant longest-running cast member, Kenan Thompson. As for Hasan Minhaj, the comedian is most famous for his stand up and Netflix series, Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj. Together, Thompson and Minhaj should get a lot of laughs together. 

When the two were announced to host by ABC, the chief White House correspondent and president of the WHCA, Jonathan Karl, issued the following statement: 

“Kenan and Hasan are two of the most engaged and engaging entertainers in America.  I’m thrilled they’ll help us celebrate the role of a free press in our democracy. We’re looking forward to a lively evening honoring the most important political journalism of the past year.”

A Time to Lighten Up

The White House Correspondents Dinner is a nice reminder that every once in a while, you just got to have a few drinks and laugh at yourself. Then again, politicians aren’t exactly famous for their wonderful senses of humor or amazing comedic timing. President Obama is kind of funny, for example, but he’s funny by a President’s standards. It is not the norm. Especially right now. 

A Defining Moment

Years ago, one night when Trump did attend the The White House Correspondents Dinner, he got grilled. Grilled by Seth Meyers and President Obama himself. Sadly, Trump had the last laugh? While Obama made fun of the former host of The Apprentice, he said Trump would never be President… Never. It was like a scene out of a supervillain’s origin story. Everyone laughed at Trump’s expensive, but boy, how wrong all their laughs and remarks were. It is, without question, one of the most memorable and defining moments of The White House Correspondents Dinner in history. 

A Brief History of the White House Correspondents Dinner

The White House Correspondents’ Foundation was started in 1914. It started after President Woodrow Wilson was planning press conferences that would leave out certain White House journalists. As a result, some journalists got together and formed the White House Correspondents’ Association, to look after the interests of reporters covering the White House. For years, they accomplished nothing, especially since that Wilson rumor never happened.

In 1920, the association had its first dinner, but not until 1924 did a President, Calvin Coolidge, attend. After that night, every President has attended the dinner at least once during their time in office. Trump hasn’t yet.

Almost 100 years ago, only 50 guests would attend, but now, it’s more like 3, 000. Back then, it wasn’t a dinner for celebrities to promote themselves either. It was a completely different atmosphere and image. Not even until 1983 did a comedian, Mark Russell, host the event, and since then, it’s been customary. The 80s was when White House Correspondents Dinner started to resemble what we see today with the celebs, the parties, and the jokes. 

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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