(Susan Walsh/AP)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has been under a lot of pressure, what with the revelations of U.S. intelligence-gathering programs turning into a massive scandal and scrutiny from the Hill about what he told Congress about them.

And it appears that Clapper is cracking — jokes, that is.

Addressing the audience at a black-tie banquet on Friday night honoring Michael Hayden, the former CIA and National Security Agency chief, Clapper managed to muster some humor about government snooping, according to Government Executive’s account of the event.

“Some of you expressed surprise that I showed up,” he told the crowd, according to GovExec. “So many e-mails to read!”


Then another funny line: greeting TSA chief John Pistole, whose agency just rolled back a plan to allow travelers to carry knives on planes, Clapper asked, “John, can I borrow your pocket knife?”

Quite a knee-slapper. Or at least a line that might elicit some chuckles, which counts for hilarious at those sorts of affairs.

We wonder what other material he’s working on. Perhaps a Jerry Seinfeld-esque musing: “What’s the deal with Prism?”