Laughing off comedy as comedy

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Laughing off comedy as comedy

The author is the head of the global cooperation team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“Ever since you’ve come into office, things are really looking up. You know, gas is up, rent is up, food is up, everything,” said Trevor Noah at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30. The annual event returned after three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The famous comedian joked about the continued price increase in the Biden administration. Two-thousand-six-hundred attendees, including President Biden, laughed at his jokes.

While he made jokes about Biden’s blunders and his age — as Biden turns 80 in November — the president seemed to enjoy the set without frowning even once. How about his predecessor Donald Trump? President Trump boycotted the event and did not attend any of them, calling it “so boring” and “so negative.”

The historic event of the U.S. media has continued since the White House Correspondents, formed in 1914, invited President Calvin Coolidge in 1924. On the last Saturday of April each year, White House correspondents who are usually critical of the commanders in chief spend time with them and celebrate one another’s hard work. Aside from a few years, the tradition of a comedian “roasting” the president, politicians and journalists has been kept.

Some attendees have left the dinner because some jokes were too cruel. There is even a rumor that Trump decided to run for president when he was invited as a television personality in 2011 and felt insulted by some jokes. But no comedian has been oppressed or had the career ruined because of jokes made at the dinner.

After making some painful jokes, Noah asked Biden if he would end up in jail. It was a joke, too, but not all Americans are tolerant to jokes, as actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife during the live broadcasting of the Academy Awards ceremony in March.

Nevertheless, I want to see Korean politicians and the president have the tolerance to laugh off comedy as comedy, not as documentary. The 20th president of Korea was inaugurated on Tuesday. Rather than confrontation and antagonism, I hope a mature and relaxed political environment can be established in this country too.

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