The president's jokes ranged from mundane pokes at the political press to a self-mocking admission of his own canine-unfriendly culinary tastes as a child. He also made borderline below-the-belt jabs at Romney that straddled the line between good humored goofing and cathartic, sarcastic politicking at the lone venue that generally allows a sitting president to be a smart aleck toward his opponent.
The president's 16-minute bit included a spoof of a Romney campaign ad, featuring the presumptive Republican nominee at Air Force One's door, with a dog cage atop the plane (an allusion to the oft-pilloried anecdote about the Romney clan's drive up to Canada with their dog, Seamus, strapped to the roof).
Obama noted the cavernous Hilton Hotel ballroom hosting the event, or what Mitt Romney would call a fixer-upper.
The night was also full of political in-jokes, with Obama pointing to Romney as a fellow Harvard alum -- the former Massachusetts governor has two degrees from the Ivy League institution. What a snob, Obama dryly said, referencing an earlier criticism by former-Republican presidential nominee contender Rick Santorum, who reportedly gave the joke a thumbs up.
The annual black-tie dinner has slowly morphed from a low-key mingling of the political establishment and the journalists that dissect them into a bizarre mash-up of Capitol Hill's and Hollywood's key players. George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Charlize Theron, Kim Kardashian and Uggie, the dog from the Oscar-winning best film The Artist, were all in attendance alongside Newt Gingrich, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, among others.
The glad-handing has earned the dinner a pseudonym among journalists, the prom of Washington D.C. Obama lambasted the title by joking that the event's nickname was created by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom.
Obama also took aim at Sarah Palin, using Dave Chapelle-esque dark humor. Referencing the former Alaska governor's famous line from the 2008 Republican convention, Obama asked, What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? The punchline: A pit bull is delicious. First Lady Michelle Obama looked stunned at what her husband had just blurted, which prompted a seemingly nervous chuckle from the President before suggesting the dish is best served with a little bit of soy sauce.
The president also joked about the ongoing Secret Service scandal. The best of Obama's foray into stand-up comedy, along with a full video of his comedic turn, is below.
On the absurdity of the whole event:
Seriously guys, what am I doing here? I'm President of the United States, and I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel? I have the nuclear codes. Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian.
On what has changed since he took office:
Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won't stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.
On the Huffington Post's Pulitzer Prize:
There's no one out there linking to the kinds of hard-hitting journalism that HuffPo is linking to every single day. And you don't them pay them, which is a great business model.
On his similarities with Romney:
We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show to an alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree.
On the recent Secret Service prostitution scandal:
I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for the curfew.