Right now, Washington is busily gearing up for tomorrow night's White House Correspondents Dinner. And no one is busier that the political comedy writers whose job it is to make the politicians seem funny. I've always had a soft spot/fascination with these guys (and they're all guys) and even wrote about some of them in this Atlantic article a few years ago. What sparked that piece was my amazement that anyone could make John Kerry funny--because let's be honest, that guy is to funny what matter is to antimatter. But sure enough, they pulled it off.
The piece was an excuse to dive into a particularly fun Washington subculture, and one of the things I learned was how comedic speeches like the one Obama will deliver tomorrow night come together. It's a pretty elaborate process. Unlike most presidential speeches, this one draws on the (uncredited) work of a lot of people outside the administration, from late-night television writers to particularly funny political operatives--sort of a political-comedy pro-am that offers psychic rewards, but little else. Politicians are like the Huffington Post--they don't pay comedy writers anything, and instead rely on "the sheer joy of writing for President/Senator/Secretary X" in order to make the sale.