President Donald Trump was a no-show at the first White House Correspondents’ Association dinner of his presidency. But that didn’t keep “Daily Show” comedian Hasan Minhaj from addressing “the elephant not in the room.”
Trump was a target for Minhaj when he performed at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner last year, and Saturday night’s routine wasn’t much different.
Jeff Mason, president of the White House correspondents group, said Minhaj wasn’t chosen to “roast the President in absentia,” but that’s exactly what the 31-year-old comedian did.
“I was looking for somebody who is funny and who is entertaining — because I want the dinner to be entertaining — but who can also speak to the message that the whole dinner is going to speak to … the importance of a free press,” Mason said earlier this month on MSNBC.
Here are 10 of Minhaj’s most memorable lines from the dinner:
On being a minority in America:
“That’s why you gotta be on your ‘A’ game,” Minhaj told the press. “You gotta be twice as good. You can’t make any mistakes, because when one of you messes up he blames your entire group. … And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.”
On the First Amendment:
“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”
“Don, every time I watch your show, I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show. ‘CNN Tonight’ should just be called ‘Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!’ with Don Lemon.”
On Vladimir Putin:
“We have to address the elephant not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. But that’s because he’s in Moscow.”
On Trump’s frequent golfing outings:
“Every time Trump goes golfing, the headline should read, ‘Trump golfing. Apocalypse delayed. Take the W.’ “
On Kellyanne Conway and ‘alternative facts’:
“Even if you guys groan, I’ve already hired Kellyanne Conway. She’s gonna go on TV Monday and tell everyone I ‘killed.’ It really doesn’t matter.”
On the Trump administration:
“The news coming out of the White House is so stressful, I’ve been watching ‘House of Cards’ just to relax.”
On Frederick Douglass:
“Frederick Douglass isn’t here, and that’s because. He’s dead. Someone please tell the President!”
“Historically, the president usually performs at the correspondents’ dinner, but I think I speak for all of us when I say he’s done far too much bombing this month.”
On headlining the WHCA dinner:
“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”