Over the weekend, Late Night host Stephen Colbert suggested he would “love” to again headline the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April. “I’d love to do it. I mean, when else are you going to stand next to the President and make jokes? But no one will ever ask again.”
Past hosts include Larry Wilmore, Rich Little, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel. Jay Leno currently holds the record for emceeing the event four times: 1987, 2000, 2004 and 2010.
The challenge for this year’s host will be balancing his or her role as entertainment with a presidential administration constantly criticizing the media. Dave Berg, producer of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” summed it up:
“In the past, the big challenge for comedians was, ‘How could I be funnier than President Obama? In most years, his comedy trumped the comedians. This year goes way beyond that. On the one hand, you could be accused of sitting there and skewering Trump and he is captive [at the dinner]. On the other hand, you could be accused of being too soft.”
Director Patrick Gavin, who produced the 2015 documentary Nerd Prom: Inside Washington’s Wildest Week, said this should be a tough decision for any comedian. “If they’re too tough on Trump, they run the risk of violating the ‘singe, but not burn’ principle that guides the dinner… And if they’re too soft… they will suffer the wrath of half of the country that view taking it to Trump as nothing short of a civic requirement.”
Jeff Mason of Reuters, in his role as the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, oversees choosing the entertainer. He said recently he has no timeframe currently on when someone will be announced.
President Trump has not yet accepted an invitation to attend the Dinner. The last president to miss was Ronald Reagan in 1981 as he recovered from an assassination attempt.