Romney and Obama try their hands at stand-up comedy

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama attended the annual Al Smith dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City on Thursday night.  The dinner, as ABC News explains, is a “swanky white tie fundraiser” which “raises money for Catholic charities in honor of former New York Gov. Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate.”

Referring to the white-tie dress code, Romney said it was a nice opportunity to “relax and wear what Ann and I wear around the house.”  Later, he speculated what Obama must think, spending time in a room full of tuxedos during the final days of his term: “So much to redistribute, so little time.”

He slipped in a barb at Obama’s bizarre Sesame Street obsession: “By the way, the President’s remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter ‘O’ and the number ’16 trillion.'”

He was modest about his comedy skills – “I was actually hoping the President would bring Joe Biden along this evening, because he’ll laugh at anything” – but he and Obama both did fine.  They both had some excellent zingers to deliver, which makes you wonder why all those professional comedians spent years telling us there’s no way to make fun of Obama.  (Of course, you already know why.)  Here’s Romney’s routine:

Obama had a great joke right off the bat: “Everyone please take your seats.  Otherwise, Clint Eastwood will yell at them.”   He cracked wise about the disproportionate political importance of other swing states, but said New Yorkers had an important decision to make, too: “Which one of us do you want holding up traffic for the next four years?”

He joked about how much the presidency has aged him.  “Some people say, ‘Barack, you’re not as young as you used to be.  Where’s that golden smile?  Where’s that pep in your step?’  And I say, ‘Settle down, Joe, I’m trying to run a Cabinet meeting here.”

He also had a little fun with the renowned fitness obsessions of his opponent’s running mate.  After observing that campaigning can be a grind, he said, “Sometimes it feels like this race has dragged on forever.  But Paul Ryan assured me that we’ve only been running for two hours and fifty-something minutes.”

Obama made fun of himself, too.  “Mitt is his middle name.  I wish I could use my middle name,” he sighed.  He said he had more energy in the second debate with Romney because he was “well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.”  The results of that debate taught him “there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.”