President Trump is right about one thing, according to Crofton, Md.-based comedian Tim Kardashian: The White House correspondents’ dinner is a real snoozefest. Kardashian tried to watch it on C-SPAN last year and fell asleep minutes in.
“The only good part is the comedian’s speech, and they are taking that away this year,” he says.
When Kardashian heard that the White House Correspondents’ Association had tapped historian Ron Chernow instead of an entertainer to deliver the keynote address at this year’s dinner on Saturday, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Kardashian drafted a dozen fellow comedians to put on their own event, the Unofficial Correspondents’ Dinner, at The Comedy Loft of DC on Sunday.
You don’t have to be member of the political elite to go to Kardashian’s show — anyone with a $20 ticket gets a seat at a table. And while The Donald is skipping the real correspondents’ dinner, he will be at the unofficial one … sorta. Comedian Brock Snyder will be channeling the commander in chief. The rest of the impressive guest list includes Barack Obama (played by Haywood Turnipseed Jr.), Melania Trump (Elena Torres), Bernie Sanders (Chris Lawrence) and Kim Jong Un (Lisan Wood). As for Kardashian, he’ll be hosting the evening in the guise of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “because he has a beard, and so do I,” he says.
The event won’t hew to the real dinner’s format, because Kardashian has no idea what actually happens at the dinner. “It was too boring to watch, and we want to do something entertaining,” he says. The unofficial dinner will take the form of a roast with the comedians, in character, sitting together onstage and taking turns making fun of Trump and one another.
We talked to some of the participants to find out how they’re preparing for their roles.
Brock Snyder as Donald Trump
“I got married in October, so I’ve been working on my Trump physique for months now, pounding the Big Macs,” Snyder says. A high-energy host, Snyder has found it easy to channel the president’s bloviating speech and penchant for non sequiturs. “He just speaks whatever comes into his head,” Snyder says. “He’s the loudest, most obnoxious voice in the room, and if you know me, that’s not too much of a stretch.” While he’s working hard on his impression, Snyder hopes it’s not too big of a hit. “God forbid people start saying, ‘Please do this at my birthday party,’ and now I’m playing Trump everywhere. I will jump off a bridge if that happens.”
Lisan Wood as Kim Jong Un
Wood, who is Korean American, doesn’t look like the North Korean leader, and she’s not really going to try. “I’m not necessarily going to be doing an impression. My version of Kim Jong Un is going to really be about how people view Asians in society,” she says. By phoning in her Kim, Wood will play on the tendencies among white people “to think Asians look alike” and to “feminize Asian men,” she says. As far as her material goes, Wood’s Kim is going to be broadly supportive of Trump and save his sharpest barbs for Hillary Clinton (who will be played by Rose Vineshank). “He’s mad because Hillary Clinton copied his look,” Wood says.
Elena Torres as Melania Trump
A telenovela actress and comedian, Torres has been obsessed with the first lady since the 2016 election. “I was very drawn to her because she’s probably angrier than we all about Trump winning,” she says. With a little help from Etsy, Torres has put together a convincing replica of the outfit Melania Trump wore to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. “She got so much s--- for wearing heels to help hurricane victims. But if you look closely, those were patent leather heels. Patent leather is water-resistant. That is her hurricane-victim-helping gear.”
Haywood Turnipseed Jr. as Barack Obama
Turnipseed came up with a version of Obama that would work with the comedian’s trademark dreadlocks and beard. “He’s full-on back to Hawaii and we haven’t seen him for a while,” Turnipseed says. “It’s Clone Barack we’ve been seeing, in the mom jeans walking around. The real Barack is chilling in some socks and sandals and shorts, kicking it on the beach,” he says. Turnipseed’s Obama is also a big fan of marijuana legalization and may roll some (simulated) blunts onstage. “You’re going to roll back Obamacare? Well, I’m going to roll back some weed,” he says. “Obama cares for himself now.”
The Comedy Loft of DC, Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW; Sun., 7:30 p.m., $20.