Sorry Fox News, President Obama Wasn’t the First President to Perform in a Comedy Bit

Fox News Channel and too many far-right screechers are crapping their cages today over President Obama’s hilarious appearance on Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns” web series. But they’re not alone. An ABC News White House correspondent asked Jay Carney if the sketch would “damage” Obama’s presidency.

Enough already. Do we really have perform this little dance every time? Do we really have to rewind history to the years and decades before January 20, 2009?

Here’s President George W. Bush on Deal or No Deal, April 2008:

Here’s that knee-slapping White House Correspondents bit in which President Bush searched the White House for WMD — after having deployed soldiers to die in Iraq:

Here’s presidential candidate Richard Nixon on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In, September, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War.

Here’s candidate John F. Kennedy on Jack Parr’s Tonight Show:


Nearly every presidential candidate has appeared on one late night television show or another. Bill Clinton famously played saxophone on Arsenio in 1992. George W. Bush read a Top Ten List on Letterman in 2000. Meanwhile, Presidents Reagan and Carter delivered taped messages on Bob Hope’s various TV comedy specials. President Eisenhower not only appeared on Ed Sullivan, but he also appeared in a bit with Abbott & Costello in 1955.

Again, this comes down to decades upon decades in which we’ve demanded that our presidents behave in a folksy, relatable way — irrespective of party. If we’re going to demand that everyone who occupies the Oval Office behave with unwavering super-seriousness (or else!) then this ought to apply for every president from this point forward. If not, don’t gnash your teeth pretending to shocked and outraged when a president appears on a comedy show.