Cecily Strong, the 31-year-old Saturday Night Live actress, served as host of last night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and came ready for bare as she served up sharp, pointed zingers toward both sides of the aisle. No one was safe as the Strong took aim at everyone from Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Republican candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, the Secret Service, and even President Barack Obama himself.
Strong didn’t hold back, with one particular joke aimed at the Secret Service while also commenting on the recent rash of seemingly racially charged police officer involved shootings that are making headlines on sites as TMZ.
“I don’t want to be too hard on the Secret Service, because they’re the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”
The news outlet took particular note of Strong’s joke, noting that the Correspondents’ Dinner took place just 30 miles away from Baltimore, where rioting in response to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody became so violent that fans of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team were advised to remain inside the ballpark while authorities attempted to quell the tension.
A poll conducted by CNN, also a target of Strong’s performance, revealed that viewers by and large found President Obama funnier than Strong, according to Hal Boedecker of the Orlando Sentinel. However, it should be noted that President Obama was aided during his speech by the appearance of comedian Keegan-Michael Key of Key & Peele fame, who brought character of Luther, President Obama’s anger translator, to the proceedings.
By all accounts, Strong, not a traditional stand-up comic, succeeded in raising her profile and comedy stock with tightly written, wryly delivered jokes that, while often stiff, never crossed the line to being overly harsh, just as Strong had promised earlier in the week. Strong joined a short but impressive list of comedians to have hosted the event, including fellow SNL alumni Darrell Hammond, current Senator Al Franken, Conan O’Brien, and Strong mentee Seth Meyers.
Strong, like President Obama, an Illinois native, performed with the famed Second City improv troupe before landing at SNL. After being promoted to the famed “Weekend Update” faux news desk, Strong stepped away from the venerable segment in order to better showcase her versatility, which includes spot-on impersonations as well as characters, including her popular “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.”