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White House correspondents' dinner: Conan O'Brien too safe for 'nerd prom'? (+video)

The White House correspondents' dinner is about the hippest thing going, by D.C. standards. The host is always a big deal. So what does Conan O'Brien bring to the table?

By Staff writer / February 20, 2013

Comedian Conan O'Brien will host the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on April 27.

Michael Dwyer/AP/File

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WASHINGTON

Orange-haired late-night funnyman Conan O’Brian will perform at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Politico reported the news this morning and WHCA officials confirmed it later in the day. It will be the second appearance for Conan at the famous-for-Washington “Nerd Prom,” the capital’s annual gathering of celebrities, politicians, lobbyists, corporate executives, and a few working reporters.

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Conan has done this once before, in 1995. Back then he made fun of Bill Clinton’s failed health-care reform effort, Judge Ito (remember the O.J. trial?), and Nick Nolte’s portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in a movie about same. But it was all fairly tame, despite Mr. O’Brien’s mid-'90s rep as the cutting-edge guy of late night.

That’s perhaps why he’s doing a return gig: The WHCA is all about safe at its dinner these days. It doesn’t want a rerun of the 2006 Stephen Colbert debacle. Mr. Colbert skewered President George W. Bush without mercy, and then moved on to savage the press and Washington in general. The C-SPAN audience might have loved it, but it didn’t play well in the room.

O’Brien is already making the sort of policy-based jokes Washingtonians like. On his Twitter feed Wednesday he said, “I’m honored to host the WH Correspondents dinner. Get ready for 2minutes of jokes, then 40 minutes on public employee pension reform.”

(Here’s what Washington is like: There will be people in the audience who will be disappointed when the pension-reform discussion doesn’t show up.)

Then there was his tweet from Feb. 18, in which he said that “in honor of Presidents’ Day, I won’t be getting along with Congress.”

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