“Sorry that we ejaculated confetti on your table.”
… Is not exactly the kind of thing you would expect to hear at an event where Katie Couric, Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver and Bradley Whitford all made appearances. Then again, they weren’t appearing at just any event.
For the second year, Full Frontal‘s Samantha Bee hosted her “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” essentially a tongue-in-cheek protest meant to represent everything the actual White House Correspondents’ Dinner no longer is in the age of President Donald Trump.
For example, this year’s WHCD will not feature a comedian riffing on both the president and his administration and the journalists gathered in the room. For the third year in a row, President Trump himself will not attend the WHCD, and this year he has forbidden his staff from going as well.
To all of that, Bee said, well …. some things we cannot print without dashes.
“I really believe that the current president should have to face someone once a year who calls him on his s—,” she said at her dinner. “So Donald, I am going to roast you as if you were here tonight.”
She had some choice words for the White House Correspondents’ Association, which has been open about wanting to re-work their event — in their view, to re-focus it on celebrating journalism, though it comes after Trump’s stinging criticism.
“No one should ever do what the president tweets at them!” Bee said at the show.
“But take heart,” she continued. “If Trump really wanted to ruin journalism, he would put his name on it.”
The Daily Show alum and TBS host taped the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” on Friday night at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall and it will air Saturday night, the same time as the WHCD.
Like that event, Bee asked her attendees to come decked in their black-tie best and served her dinner guests a multi-course meal with punning cocktails such as the “Wolf Spritzer.”
All of that was atmospherics: The show itself was a bomb lobbed at Trump, media ridiculata and — yes — even a robot version of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. (Sanders and other Trump officials attended last year’s WHCD but the president cried foul at the customary mocking of comedian Michelle Wolf.)
RELATED VIDEO: Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah Discuss President Trump’s First 100 Days in Office
At Bee’s show, “Hucka-bot” Sanders served as humor advisor, complete with her own off-camera wardrobe changes.
“What the f— does Sarah Huckabee Sanders do all day?!” Bee wondered during a segment mourning the end of regular White House press briefing.
Bee’s field of targets kept expanding throughout the night, channeling the spirit of a bygone correspondents’ dinner unafraid to take bites out of itself.
Following a hip-hop twist on her show’s theme song — performed live by Sweetie — Bee monologued about Jared Kushner’s hollow bird bones and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ fixation on Civil War generals; sang about the erotic power of a good piece of investigative journalism (“I wanna be a notch on the Washington Post“); sang again about the mealy-mouthed habit the mainstream media has of describing racist behavior in euphemistic terms (a riff on My Fair Lady‘s “The Rain in Spain”); shouted-out her dad in the crowd; excoriated Sanders some more (“Her looks are the best thing about her … but on the inside it’s as hideous as a pinworm in an anus,” a reference to a controversial WHCD joke last year about Sanders’ eye-liner); and addressed President Trump directly, in case he happened to be watching.
Between all that, there were the segments from Bee’s team of correspondents and other special guests.
They handed out some journalism awards, such as “The Loneliest Boy at Fox News” to Shep Smith and “The Bad Bitch Award” to the New Yorker writer Jane Mayer.
Taran Killam did an intentionally cringe-worthy set as a conservative comedian after a taped bit about the journalistic obsession with “both sides.”
Bee herself went exploring the concept of “deep fakes” — essentially faked, face-swapped video that is seamless to the eye — in another taped bit, after which she joked with the audience, “Everybody okay? Technology is terrible.”
And then there were the stars.
Whitford, introduced as “Emmy award-winning daddy Bradley Whitford,” appeared on stage to announce some of the mock journalism honors.
Couric and other media stars appeared in a taped bit spoofing the Alien films that opened the show, starring Weaver as her iconic Ellen Ripley and Bee as a TV host driven crazy in the Trump era, who had to be convinced to leave space to host her show.
Last was De Niro himself, who took the stage to massive applause from the audience in the room. De Niro, not shy about criticizing the president, lambasted him from the stage and hailed the work of the gathered journalists (despite some teleprompter stumbles).
He looked forward to the 2020 election, when liberals would have “the exquisite release” of voting the president out of office — “and you won’t have to fake it.”
To end the night, Bee gathered her full cast for the evening on stage, wrangling them into view of the camera.
“I’m very bad at coordinating this,” she cracked, adding herself to the list of the night’s objects of ridicule. “But we can do it together.”