Inside Samantha Bee's 'Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner': Will Ferrell's Roast, Alternate Timelines, Fox News In Memoriam

Will Ferrell made a surprise appearance as George W. Bush, and Steve Buscemi, Allison Janney, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Kumail Nanjiani, Billy Eichner, Patton Oswalt and Retta were among those appearing in taped sketches.
Getty Images

Samantha Bee took over the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday afternoon for the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’s Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner, a spoof on the official event being held later that night.

“[Trump] ran away from the Vietnam War, he ran away from two different Republican debates and now he’s run away from the Correspondents' Dinner. I guess we know why he wears those lumpy, ill-fitting old-man pants: it’s because he’s constantly shitting himself,” said the late-night host to loud applause. “A giant pussy can get elected president, as long as he doesn’t have one.”

The broadcast kicked off with a taped sketch starring Allison Janney reprising her West Wing role as press secretary, answering questions about the broadcast to those producing left-skewing news. For example, when one (white male) reporter asks, “Doesn’t having a female host for this dinner demonstrate a clear anti-white male bias?” Janney bluntly responds, “Sam isn’t bias against white men, she just can’t tell you all apart and thinks you all look alike.”

“You people are monsters! Yes, we have freedom of speech and of the press and that is a beautiful thing … but you are part of the reason no one trusts the real press. These journalists work day and night to fight the truth,” Janney then explains. “We have to let you exist but we don’t have to listen to you.”

After Peaches’ live performance of the Full Frontal theme song “Boys Wanna Be Her,” Bee hit the stage and received a standing ovation and deafening applause. She joked that the taping was held in the DAR Constitution Hall, and then appeared less enthused while showing photos of current first daughter Ivanka Trump.

“We’re here to celebrate the free press — there are hundreds of journalists from the ‘failing’ New York Times to the failing ‘pile of garbage’ Buzzfeed, plus the failing ‘What is ProPublica? It sounds Mexican’,” said Bee, who then reassured attendees, “I will go to Mexico and get them to pay for all your drinks.”

Bee then applauded the Committee to Protect Journalists seated at the tables closest to the stage — “These are the people you call if you leave the hall tonight and you find your car has been keyed by Sean Spicer” — and teased that the event will feature a special guest. “All your cable news producers, you’ll want to turn your cameras that way and just stare at the podium,” she joked. “Maybe talk to each other about what you think might happen there later!”

“As much as I might love poking fun at the media and as much as you kind of deserve it sometimes, your job has never been harder,” she said. “You basically get paid to stand in a cage while a geriatric orangutan screams at you. … You expose injustice against the weak and you continue to fact-check the president as if he might someday get embarrassed! Tonight is for you.”

She went on to salute all the various mediums of journalism today: local news outlets (“We hope we’ve made you proud by taking your meticulous work and adding our dick jokes,” said correspondent Allana Harkin), TV stations’ investigative reports (which are delightfully melodramatic pieces,” said Harkin), radio shows and podcasts and Teen Vogue. “Now can someone please publish Teen Maxim so boys don’t have to spend all their time on 4chan becoming assholes?” asked correspondent Ashley Nicole Black. A special thanks was made to copy editors, “who make it so much easier to spot fake news,” said Bee.

The special’s commercial breaks were led with taped sketches of Bee roasting a handful of previous presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton, complete with period-appropriate garb. “This story has more wrinkles than the president’s nutsack,” she said of Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair, while Richard Nixon “achieved John F. Kennedy’s two goals: landing a man on the moon and getting f—ed by a deep throat.” The final sketch of this series had Bee roasting Mike Pence, who became president after Trump died after “getting his head stuck in a jar of honey.” She was shown wearing a chastity belt and a long-sleeved turtleneck: “I attempted to cover my pillows but the slut shines through.”

The event also featured a spoof on an educational film exploring “the discovery of alternative facts” that features Steve Buscemi as a scientist, and a pre-taped star-studded Trump roast featuring Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Kumail Nanjiani, Billy Eichner, Patton Oswalt, Bridget Everett, Retta, Robin Thede, Paula Pell and Jordan Carlos. Said Janelle James in the reel: “The White House is a building, not a hiring policy.”

One heavily applauded segment skewered Jeff Zucker and CNN. “Zucker’s greatest success besides The Apprentice — which, by the way, thanks for that — is filling airtime between car crashes with a reality show loosely based on the news where loyal-partisan hacks make us measurably dumber by spewing mendacious nonsense while a hologram of Anderson Cooper stand by,” said Bee, pleading for the network to “free” its journalists. “Anderson is a smart reporter! Give him his black T-shirt back and put him in front of a natural disaster!” She added, “CNN gives you news like your shitty boyfriend gives you orgasms: in the end, you wind up lying in the wet spot and he’s snoring.”

Another was an In Memoriam-style segment on Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, “who were taken from us far too late.” After noting that the two Fox News figures plagued by sexual assault accusations were punished with “65 million dollars and age-appropriate retirement — oh, justice,” she went on roast Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the network. “I don’t think there was a virgin birth but if I don’t say Merry Christmas, your network will declare a fatwa on me,” she said, adding that each Trump call into Fox and Friends is “a long-distance circle jerk” and that Trump has tweeted more often about that program than he has about his daughter Tiffany Trump.

A surprise appearance by Will Ferrell, reviving his Saturday Night Live impression of George W. Bush, received a standing ovation toward the end of the special. “For the longest time I was considered the worst president of all time — that has changed,” Ferrell said as Bush to loud applause. “I needed eight years, a catastrophic flood, a war built on a lie and an economic disaster. The new guy only needed 100 days.

“I come in second, and I’m fine by that,” he added. “No one remembers second place — I don’t even remember who played the New England patriots at last year’s Super Bowl.”

He then addressed the press in the room. “You guys would always sneak up on me with ‘gotcha’ questions. Like, why are we going to war? Gotcha! Why did you not respond to Hurricane Katrina? Gotcha! What is your middle name? Gotcha! I just wish someone would’ve told me all you gotta say is ‘fake news’ over and over again.” He also added that the late political journalist Helen Thomas actually died in 1954 and was being rolled into the White House press as a corpse ever since, but “Helen Thomas asked better questions as a dead woman than any man at Fox News,” where “they’re firing anchors over there faster than you can say, ‘Hey, hot chocolate.’”

Ferrell continued as Bush, “I never liked the press, but I took my lumps like every other president. The new guy has thin skin. He’s what you’d call a snowflake. … He can’t handle the heat. He’s a weak man. He can’t even sit in the White House, he runs down to the Mar-a-Lago,” which “sounds like a name from a Tom Clancy novel: The Hunt for Mar-a-Lago.” He then narrated a scene from the hypothetical book in which Trump discusses launching missiles as he “speared a sumptuous and beautiful slice of chocolate cake. … That’s not a Tom Clancy novel, that really happened!”

Ferrell then saluted journalists for remaining steadfast in their industry. “It’s like being on the Titanic. … The iceberg is coming, and you guys are hanging on to you journalistic integrity, playing your violin as the ship goes down. You should do what they’re doing over at Fox and Friends: dressing up as women and children and stealing the lifeboats.” As for how to become one today, “you could also post racist angry tweets and hope Breitbart hires you.”

Ferrell also poked fun at Bush’s post-presidential career as a painter by debuting an unfinished piece of Trump, kicking off his Portraits of Not Courage collection. “As you can see, I exhausted my palette of yellows and oranges. … It’s a strange hue,” he said, adding that he also started painting Trump’s cabinet but “I still could not get my hands on enough white paint.”

Before leaving the stage, Ferrell skewered Trump’s style. “Here’s a fashion update for you, Trump: the tie stops at the belt. A big long tie that goes past your mid-thigh does not mean what you think it means; it means I don’t know anything about fashion and I should not design my own ties.” And his final three words of advice: “Eat a salad.”

Bee closed the special with a Man In the High Castle-inspired moment in which George Takei handed her a film reel. Upon watching it, she saw the alternative historical timeline in which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the election, “the Patriots lost the Super Bowl, Lemonade won album of the year and every print of La La Land spontaneously combusted.”

Bee then appeared onstage as the host of such timeline’s White House Correspondents Dinner. “It’s been 100 days since president Clinton’s inauguration and the start of her impeachment proceedings — damn, Paul Ryan, let a bitch take her hand off the Bible!” she said. “For a week after President Clinton won, we all heard a loud buzzing noise; either the sound of the whizzing bullet we just dodged or Bill O’Reilly’s vibrator.”

“[Clinton] is under so many investigations, I’m starting to think that FBI really does stand for Female Body Inspector,” she continued, adding that the Republicans are so hostile toward her that “she’s the first president who had to walk out to the lectern with her keys between her knuckles.” Additionally, Clinton’s appointment of a 51-percent female cabinet triggered “the first mass protest you can see from space, the Men’s March,” complete with blue hats.

Of Clinton’s first hundred days in office, Bee said, “It’s all very complicated and dull and I’m bored shitless. I almost feel like I’d rather have an idiot like Trump in charge just for the excitement, but probably not.” She added in reference to Ivanka Trump’s White House position, “[Clinton] raised eyebrows when she put her son-in-law in charge of brokering peace in the Middle East — I’m just kidding! How stupid would that be?”

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton inherited Michelle Obama’s White House garden “because if there’s one thing we know about Bill, it’s that he loves hoeing around and planting seeds.”

Altogether, Bee addressed Clinton directly. “Because of you, I can tell my daughters they can do anything, and that sexism won’t hold them back. The world will not magnify their faults and ignore their virtues because of their gender. That time has truly passed. No hard feelings, men. If there’s one message that echoes from this dinner, let it be that men’s rights are human rights, and human rights are men’s rights.”