Rich Little Died For Our Sins
President Bush made a difficult decision.
"I was looking forward to doing a little poking myself, but in light of this tragedy at Virginia Tech I decided not to be funny."
And so, honorably, did Rich Little.
Mr. Little, the scheduled entertainment for the White House Correspondents' Dinner, made a last-minute decision to forgo being even vaguely funny. So, wisely and tragically, he died. Here, preserved for all eternity in digital amber, is the deer tracks joke. Look upon it and weep for humanity. And be thankful we're not making you listen to the song ("Having fun with Washington", which became an existential Beckettian joke after about the second repetition -- you can watch that shit on C-Span if you don't believe us when we say it was intentionally tragic performance art).
"Did you people get this?" He's not asking for laughter -- he's asking if there's any point in going on. Forced, like Endgame's Clov, to perform to a room terrifyingly free from the attention of any kind of God, all Little can offer is a bitterly ironic cry of despair.
Some time on Friday night, we heard Steve Scully, head of the White House Correspondent's Association, selector of the entertainment each year, say this to a drunk journalist: "Even if he's not funny, howl with laughter." The assembled crowd, thankfully, did not take that advice, and instead looked on in appropriately grave silence, as a sacrificial impersonator committed televised comedic seppuku.
Shortly after Rich Little's performance, an unnamed administration official (or something, we're drunk again) asked the Weekly Standard's Matt Labash who he was. "I'm Rich Little's writer," Labash answered.
It was an uncharacteristically frank answer for Washington. But it is not business as usual in our nation's capital any longer.
Below, because even we are not cold enough to leave you with such despair, the only intentionally funny routine of the night.