BREAKING: Rich Little Not Funny 23 Years Ago
In the spirit of Rich Little's ripped-from-the-headlines-of-a-Smithsonian-exhbit routine, here's how the Washington Post reported the last Little-hosted White House Correspondents' Dinner. It was 1984, the year "Jump" came out and a hot blond woman smashed the telescreen beaming Hillary Clinton's message to her army of morlocks.
Little's impersonations included a mock press conference with Reagan plus some walk-on parts by Jimmy Stewart, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon.Speaking of walls! It may only be an HTML table of .WAV files, but this page on Rich Little's official "web site" is a virtual wall of hilarity. At least 66 percent of the people he mimicks are dead. At least 40 percent of them sound mysteriously like Johnny Carson talking out the side of his mouth.
Slack-jawed and slouched, Little's Nixon edged up to the microphone to announce: "I'm back . . ." That line broke up everybody, including the president.
Here's a sampler of Little's Nixon dialogue, directed at Reagan:
"There are a couple of areas in which I feel superior. One is foreign affairs. I told him many times, I said, 'Ron, you don't know anything about foreign affairs. . . . if you're going to have an affair, have one in America.' "
"Two years ago the CIA came and said, 'Mr. Nixon, we're thinking of bugging Ronald Reagan's bedroom.' I said 'Go ahead and do it.' Well, they did it. You know they played the tapes back and everyone fell asleep." As the crowd laughed, Nancy Reagan offered a good-natured smile.
"Another place I was superior was China. I remember playing handball with Chairman Mao against the Great Wall of China. I said to Chairman Mao, 'What a great wall.' He wrote it down."
A Rich Collection of Voices [RichLittle.com]
- David Weigel