Transcript Of Larry Wilmore's White House Correspondents' Dinner Speech Is Powerful & Hits Home
Once again President Barack Obama proved a tough act to follow. But if anyone was up for the job of trying, it's the controversial host of The Nightly Show. Comedian Larry Wilmore hosted Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday, holding nothing back when it came to roasting the president, the press, and the politicos. For Wilmore, it seemed no topic or target was off limits. Race, North Carolina's bathroom bill, and the possibility that Ted Cruz is indeed the Zodiac Killer all proved fair game. But the comedian's humor wasn't always well received by the audience, who met more than a few of Wilmore's jokes with groans or silence. Wilmore, however, seemed largely undeterred, powering through to drive home the historical implications of Obama's presidency.
Here's the full transcript of Wilmore's speech from Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner:
Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you, thanks for keeping that applause going all the way, too, I appreciate that.
Well, welcome to "Negro Night" here at the Washington Hilton, or as Fox News will report, "Two thugs disrupt elegant dinner in D.C." That's how they do us, right?
Nice to be here, though, at the White House correspondents' dinner, or as you know they're gonna call it next year, "Donald Trump presents a luxurious evening paid for by Mexico." I'm very scared of that.
But thank you so much. It's an absolute honor to be here tonight. I want to thank the president, the first lady, Carol Lee, and the White House Correspondents' Association for hiring me, and Mitch McConnell for not blocking my nomination.
Seriously, you gotta give Mitch McConnell credit. At this point, he could block LeBron James. He's unbelievable.
But to say a little bit about me, so, I am a black man who replaced a white man who pretended to be a TV newscaster. So, yeah, in that way Lester Holt and I have a lot in common.
I know it's not too soon.
And I have to admit it's not easy to follow the president, man. You got some jokes. Mr. President. The president's funny. Stay in your lane, man. You don't seem me going around president-ing all the time, right? I don't go around passing health care, and signing executive orders, pardoning turkeys ... not closing Guantanamo. Oh wait, maybe I did do that.
But I have to say, it's great, it looks like you're really enjoying your last year of the presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool. That was cool, yeah. You know it kinda makes sense, too, because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? What? Am I wrong?
Speaking of drones, how is Wolf Blitzer still on television? Ask a follow-up question. Hey, Wolf, I'm ready to project tonight's winner: Anyone that isn't watching "The Situation Room."
Alright, fine, I like Wolf, but...
Vice President Joe Biden is here, nice to see you, vice president. That's great. I heard Joe's retiring, moving back to Delaware, which is good. He won't have to answer any more difficult questions like, "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?"
But I have to say, about the first lady, it's so nice to have dinner with you. She is the epitome of grace, class and poise, isn't she? She really is. Not to be confused with future first gentleman Bill Clinton, whose three favorite strippers are named Grace, Class and Poise. Don't make that mistake. Don't make that mistake.
It's the late show, Mr. President, I can do these jokes.
And let me just say, Mr. President, the office has taken its toll on you. You look terrible, Mr. President. No, you do man! I mean look at you! Your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally.
President's hair is so white it keeps saying "all lives matter." Alright, fine. Fine, I get it. I get it.
No, but man, you came in here looking like Denzel. Now you going out looking like Grady from "Sanford and Son." I know it's a dated reference but you're dated, Mr. President.
All I'm saying is that in less than eight years, Mr. President, you've busted two time-honored stereotypes. Black does crack, and apparently once you go black, it looks like we are going back. Thanks, Ben Carson.
I gotta be careful picking on you, though, Mr. President. Couple years ago during this dinner, you were like killing Osama bin Laden. Remember that?
Who you killing tonight? Can't be print journalism; that industry's been dead for awhile now, right?
Sorry. I'm just kidding. Shout out to the print media. No, really, you have to shout, they're like all over 70 now. The follow-up was nice, wasn't it? Yeah.
Oh, by the way, you guys, Black Lives Matter is here tonight. I'm just kidding. Relax, white people, they're not here. It's just a joke. Just relax, just relax.
But I'm impressed with the people in this room. There are so many rich, powerful people in this room. You know, it's nice to finally match the names to the faces in the Panama Papers. It's very nice.
Will Smith is here from the upcoming movie "Suicide Squad." By the way, not to be confused with the new Jeb Bush documentary, "Suicide Watch."
Groans are good. Groans are good.
Anthony Anderson is here from the hit show "Black-ish." "Black-ish." Which was also my nickname in high school, unfortunately. That's what they called you in Kenya, too, didn't they, Mr. President?
C-SPAN, of course, is carrying tonight's dinner live, which is ironic because most of their viewers aren't.
It's true, guys. C-SPAN is the number one network among people who died watching TV and no one's found them yet.
No, but it is good to be on C-SPAN. Glad I'm not on your rival network, "No input, HDMI1." That was for me, that was for me.
CNN is here tonight. I've been watching CNN a long time. Yep. Used to watch it back when it was a news network. I did. What, is it all CNN here tonight?
I don't know about you guys, but I can't get enough of that CNN countdown clock. Now we can see exactly when they hit zero in the ratings.
And not to throw any shade, but Fox News is the highest-rated cable news channel among viewers who have no idea what "shade" means.
Fox News actually tried to convince America that Beyoncé was anti-cop after her Black Panther-inspired performance at the Super Bowl. Anti-cop? Come on. At the most, she's anti-pants. Right?
I think Fox News secretly likes Beyoncé, though. They just renamed "The Kelly File," "Becky with the good hair."
"Lemonade," Mr. Vice President? "Lemonade," yeah? No? Oh, okay.
MSNBC — MSNBC here tonight? No? Which actually now stands for "Missing a Significant Number of Black Correspondents." Am I wrong? They like fired Melissa Harris-Perry, they canceled Joy Reid, they booted Touré. I heard they put Chris Hayes on probation because they thought he was related to Isaac Hayes. That's wrong.
MSNBC got rid of so many black people I thought Boko Haram was running that network. What was going on...?
You know, I should say some of America's finest black journalists are here tonight. Don Lemon's here, too. Hey, Don, how's it going? Alleged journalist Don Lemon, everybody.
Al Sharpton, I think, was here tonight. You know, I'm surprised Al is a Hillary supporter. You don't put a relaxer in your hair for 40 years and not feel the burn. That just doesn't happen. It's impossible.
By the way, if you're sitting next to Al Sharpton, feel free to feel the perm. It's okay, we've cleared it, it's alright.
Lots of big news this year, the Treasury promised to put Harriet Tubman's face on the $10 bill, but now we have to wait until 2030 for the $20 bill. Yeah. Man, women haven't been this deceived by a bill since Cosby. [groans] Oh, like I did it.
Ben Carson was also against Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the 20-dollar bill. He praised Jackson, saying he was a tremendous president. From the grave, Andrew Jackson replied, "What did that j—aboo say?"
That's what he said, that's what he said. I'm just the reporter, you guys. I'm the reporter, Mr. President.
"Did Larry Wilmore say 'j—aboo' on Obama's last...?" I did. I honestly did.
But 2016 has been a beast though, man. We lost David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Prince — or as Hillary Clinton likes calls him, "my favorite singer, my favorite singer, my favorite singer."
Biggest thing this year though has been the presidential election. Lincoln Chafee ran an admirable campaign. Now he's back to doing what he does best, manning the pottery booth at the craft fair.
Chris Christie was supposed to be here tonight. I don't know if he made it. He RSPVed for three: him, his wife and Donald Trump's dry cleaning.
I shouldn't make fun — Chris lost a lot of weight recently, didn't he? He said he just eliminated everything from his routine that wasn't necessary, like his self-pride and dignity.
You guys are tough, man.
Senator Bernie Sanders is here tonight. Senator! Which I'm surprised, you never come to these things. He usually goes to the White House correspondents' early-bird dinner. It's nice of you to come to this one this time, Senator, I appreciate it.
Senator recently had a hernia operation. His doctors say it's his own fault for trying to lift the hopes of the disenfranchised. You gotta stretch before you do that, Senator.
I am confused with Bernie's stance on guns. He seems to be anti-gun everywhere except Vermont. Bernie doesn't care who gets a gun in Vermont. (*whispers*) There are no black people in Vermont.
I have to give you credit though, Bernie, you are trying hard to get the black vote. I think it's great. Bernie's been hanging around with rapper Killer Mike. Or as Hillary Clinton calls him, Super Predator Mike.
Bernie Sanders gets knocked for his age, man, which is kind of unfair. It is, isn't it? Although I will say that Bernie's so old his first campaign slogan was "fire." Remember that? Remember that? That was cool. Free stuff, right. Yeah.
Bernie's so old when God said, "Let there be light," Bernie said, "Conserve energy, let's sit in the dark. It's okay."
But, man, you have to admit, it is a really tough race between Senator Sanders and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton was flustered when a Black Lives Matter protester challenged her. Man, I haven't seen a white lady that upset over being blindsided by a black person since Kelly Ripa. Right? Exactly.
Hillary's had some awkward interactions with Black Lives Matter. She has, man. You know it's bad when her immediate response is, "Can't we talk about Benghazi? Please?"
And Bernie got in trouble, remember, Bernie, you got in trouble for saying Hillary was unqualified? Hillary, she is extremely qualified. In fact, when you factor in all of her policy flip-flops, she is at least several of the most qualified candidates ever to run for president. You know I'm not wrong.
Donald Trump said that if Hillary Clinton were a man, he didn't think she'd get five percent of the vote. Okay, alright, alright. First of all, if Hillary Clinton were suddenly a man, her biggest problem would be finding a bathroom she'd be allowed to use in North Carolina. Alright? That'd be her biggest problem.
Donald Trump, now Donald Trump says he's going to try and be more presidential. It's true, he's serious about it, too. So he says that now, when he boasts about his genitalia during a debate, he's only going to refer to it as his President Johnson. That's it. LBJ? Oh, very good.
And I can't understand why everyone treats Donald Trump with kid gloves. And then I realized they're the only gloves that'll fit his stupid, little baby hands. Oh, man.
But actually, frankly, Donald Trump, his campaign is inspiring... mass violence. And whenever I turn to the TV, I see Trump's family campaigning for him, gushing all over him. Or as it's also known as, "Morning Joe."
Have you seen "Morning Joe"? C'mon, guys, seriously. No, you know it's true. Guys, "Morning Joe" has their head so far up Trump's ass they bumped into Chris Christie. You know that's true. You know I'm not lying. You know that's true.
You know what it is with Donald Trump? Donald Trump looks like the rich dad in every episode of Law & Order where the frat kid accidentally strangles a hooker. Right? Doesn't he? Or as they say here at the Washington Hilton, Tuesdays.
But guys I am not surprised Donald Trump is happening to America because I watch movies, I do. And every time there's a black president, something always comes to destroy the earth. Always. It's true.
Ted Cruz is about to stay in the race. Man. Everybody hates Ted Cruz. Even O.J. Simpson said, "That guy's just hard to like."
This is true, this is true: You know, there's a joke going around the Internet that Ted Cruz is actually the Zodiac Killer. Right? I'm not making that up. Come on, that's absurd — some people actually liked the Zodiac Killer.
Recently, Ted Cruz got a string of wins and endorsements, and then everybody remembered who Ted Cruz is: the Zodiac Killer.
Ted Cruz got zero delegates in New York, which is actually five more than I thought he would get for the Zodiac Killer.
John Boehner came out of retirement and described Ted Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh." Lucifer! I mean, that is not fair, man. Lucifer is horrible, but he's not the Zodiac Killer.
Recently, Heidi Cruz revealed that after they got married, Ted bought them like 100 cans of soup. Not making yourself look less like the Zodiac Killer, Ted Cruz. Not doing it.
I don't even think Ted Cruz wants to be president. I think he's just criss-crossing the country, Zodiac-killing. That's my theory on it.
Alright, that's enough.
Ted Cruz actually announced Carly Fiorina as his VP pick, and he's not even the nominee yet. You've seen this, right? Who does that? Except the Zodiac Killer.
No, but see here, think how strange it is, you guys, think how strange it is: Ted Cruz picked a vice president. That doesn't make sense, because serial killers always work alone. And I don't know if you've thought about this, but if Carly Fiorina were vice president, she would only be a heartbeat away from being Zodiac-killed. It's very important information, people should know.
But right now, it's all about you, Mr. President. You've got seven months left and we should enjoy every moment of it. That's right, soak it in, people. I don't know when we're getting a black president again. I mean they're not even gonna let Morgan Freeman be president in movies anymore for awhile.
The president and first lady will return to private life. That's gonna be different for you guys. Nobody to wash your dishes or change the bed linens, sweep the floors — you're gonna miss Joe Biden.
Oh, I just got a note from the president saying that if you want another drink, you should order it now because the bar will be closing down. Of course, he said the same thing about Guantanamo, so you have at least another eight years. He made that joke!
But just think, Mr. President, in less than a year, you'll be playing golf every day, you know, so things won't be that different. It'll be great.
And this is your last year in office, right, so now your legacy begins. So I wanna talk about what you're leaving behind, and I don't mean the black Jesus in the Lincoln bedroom.
No, I'm just saying, make sure you take all of your culturally specific items with you so you can get your security deposit back, Mr. President.
Quick impression of the next president moving in: "What's cocoa butter? I've never heard of such a thing."
But I have to say, when it's all said and done, Mr. President, after eight years in the White House, we are really going to miss Michelle. We really are.
Thank you for being a good sport, Mr. President, but all jokes aside, let me just say how much it means for me to be here tonight. I've always joked that I voted for the president because he's black. And people say, "Well, do you agree with his policies?" And I always said, "I agree with the policy that he's black." I said, "As long as he keeps being black, I'm good." They'd say, "What about Iraq?" "Is he still black?"
But behind that joke is a humble appreciation for the historical implications for what your presidency means.
When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn't accept a black quarterback. Now think about that. A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team — and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.
Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I'm going to keep it 100: Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—. You did it.
Thank you very much, good night!