At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, the annual event replaced its usual comedian speaker with a historian instead, breaking with tradition in favor of a less-controversial speech. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump skipped the celebration once again, marking the third year in a row in which the president, none too keen on jokes at his own expense, has refused to attend.
But while the official dinner passed with little laughter, Samantha Bee took the reins on a much livelier parallel event: the second ever Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The Full Frontal affair was launched in 2017 as an alternative to the main event, and this year’s installment, which aired at the same time as the official historian-led dinner, proved just how crucial Bee’s efforts to support journalists and free speech are turning out to be.
“Tonight, I really wanna focus on what a fucking coward he is,” Bee said at the beginning of her roast of the president. “Imagine being the most powerful man in the world, and you can’t listen to a comedian razz you for five minutes?” Bee went on to poke fun at Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a clear defense of the criticism Michelle Wolf faced last year for what some saw as a spiteful remark about Sanders’ looks. (In reality, it was about her dishonesty.) And the roast wouldn’t have been complete without Bee mentioning the highly redacted Mueller report, which she said had “so much black on it, Trump demanded to see its birth certificate.”