“They rioted because they didn’t want to work until 64,” Roy Wood Jr. said tonight at tonight at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner of recent uprisings over pension reform in France. “Meanwhile in America we have an 80-year-old man begging us for four more years of work,” the Daily Show correspondent added with President Joe Biden sitting just a few away
“Let me finish the job,” Wood Jr. went on to say of POTUS’ recently announced reelection campaign. “That’s not a campaign slogan, that’s a plea.”
Following Biden at the podium of the Washington Hilton in front of the Beltway and Hollywood elite for the second in-person WHCD of the current administration, Roy Wood Jr. may not have the name recognition of his old boss and last year’s headliner Trevor Noah, but the Alabama-raised comic was on fire on Saturday. In a routine that went from mockery of the powerful to a meditation on racism, sexism (especially against VP Kamala Harris), bruised American democracy and the need for an honest free press, Wood brought the house down and left a strong POTUS performance as a fond memory.
“Tonight, we are all unified under one thing, and that’s scandal,” Wood Jr. said early in his remarks. “Scandals have been devouring careers this year,” he noted of the pink slipping of Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon by Fox News and CNN and the $787.5 million settlement the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet made on day 1 of what looked to be a scathing defamation trial from Dominion Voting Systems over false 2020 election claims.
“The untouchable Tucker Carlson is out of a job,” Wood Jr. said with perfect pitch from the presidential sealed podium. “Some people celebrate it,” he declared to an audience that mainly were clearly glad to see the one-time ratings kingpin knocked off his perch. “To Tucker’s staff, I want you to know that I know what you’re feeling. I work at The Daily Show so I too have been blindsided by the sudden departure of the host of a fake-news-program,” he added with a comparison to Noah leaving the Comedy Central series in recent months. Tucker got caught up. Got caught up like that dude from Vanderpump Rules,” he said with members of the limbo low Bravo reality show in the crowd.
“Speaking of assholes, Don Lemon is out of a job,” Wood Jr went on to say, touching on material previously explored in a softer manner by Biden. “Don Lemon. My dog, Don Lemon. Don Lemon released a statement saying he got fired from CNN, then CNN released a statement saying that they offered Don a meeting. They had to part ways, because Don Lemon can’t even accurately report a story about Don Lemon.”
Of course, with the First and Second Families seated at the WHCD top table right next to him, Wood Jr was honor bound to take sharp swipes at Biden and Vice-President Harris. Part of the glory of his routine tonight was how the one time journalism student flipped the script repeatedly and deftly.
“Say what you want with our president, when he wakes up from that nap, work gets done,” Wood Jr noted of Biden, who is constantly criticized for his age and gaffs. “He might doze off but then it’s infrastructure bill. Student loan forgiveness. Bring Brittney Griner home.”
Ripping into the scandals of Donald Trump’s presidency and post-presidency, Wood Jr. looked at the current administration’s own soft underbelly, sort of.
“I think the most insulting scandal of the Biden administration was placed at the feet of our Madam Vice President,” Wood Jr stated returning to his main theme. “The scandal of: what does Kamala do?” he continued. “Which is a disrespectful question. That’s a disrespectful question, because nobody ever asked that question of the vice president until a woman got the job,” Wood Jr, said. “I don’t know what Mike Pence did. The only thing I know about Mike Pence is that he’s really good at playing hide-and-seek at the Capitol.”
“At the end of the day, as a vice president, the only thing you got to do is just be better than Dick Cheney,” Wood Jr deadpanned in reference to the Veep who was proud of his Darth Vader nickname. “If a VP’s job is really just waiting to step in to save the country in case of emergency, then the job of vice president is the perfect job for a black woman, shouldn’t be but it is,” the WHCD headliner exclaimed as the crowd waited to see where he was going to take all this. “And whatever you do accomplish whatever you do accomplish all they gonna do is just give a man credit for anything you do …they just gonna give a man credit for what you do. And by the way, Mr. President great job of being the first woman vice president …I don’t even know how you did that, wonderful job.
Unlike Biden and Harris, scandal plagued Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was not at the WHCD tonight, but he was on the thoughtful Wood Jr’s target list – in funny and not so funny
“Anti-CRT policies are an attack on Black history and an attempt to erase the contributions of Black people,” Wood Jr said of GOP and other’s lambasting of critical race theory as a concept and a curriculum. “A lot of Black people wouldn’t mind some of that erasure… as long as that Black person is Clarence Thomas,” Wood Jr hit with the punchline at the conservative and controversial justice, “We can all see Clarence Thomas… but he belongs to billionaire Harlan Crow — and that’s what an NFT is,” Wood Jr went on to say, bringing the undeclared luxury trip, real estate deals and more Justice Thomas and his family have been the beneficiaries of from a man who had had business in front of the SCOTUS.
Taking his debut moment in the Beltway WHCD spotlight and with his mother in the ballroom, Wood Saturday also made a point of turning the light on the work that his parents did in their comminutes and the world. The comedian also offered praise for the power of local journalism in a nation where many towns and cities are losing local reporting.
Daring to challenge the bigwigs in front of him and their business model, including Shari Redstone and several of his Paramount Global bosses, the veteran stand-up comic gave the media some advice in their best interest in today’s divided America. “All the essential, fair and nuanced reporting,” Wood Jr noted. “It’s all stuck behind a pay wall…say what you want about a conspiracy theory but at least it’s affordable.”
Not for the first nor last time tonight Roy Wood Jr got a rousing and well deserved response.