The prime minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, got the biggest laughs of the evening at the Nordic state dinner Friday, prompting President Obama to declare that they’d found the host of next year’s White House correspondents’ dinner.
“The first time you invited me into the Oval Office, Mr. President, you said that Denmark is punching above our weight. It made me proud,” Rasmussen said. “Now some six years later I understand that not only Denmark, but all the Nordic countries are punching above their weight? Nevertheless, I’m still proud.”
Rasmussen ran though a list of celebrities of Nordic descent, including Scarlett Johansson, Julia Roberts and Uma Thurman. “And the Norweigans? Well, they gave you Karl Rove.”
Rasmussen told Obama that when he gets frustrated he cooks to let off steam and advised the president to do the same. “I think you could be inspired by the new Nordic cuisine. It already involves such things moss, bark and ants,” he said, “But you could be helpful in our search for a recipe for lame duck.”
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, prime minister of Iceland, got his biggest laugh after noting that “the population of Iceland is 1,000 times smaller than that of the United States.”
“We do not hide behind our apparent lack of superpower status. What we lack in manpower, we make up in volcanoes.” But, he added, “We are still figuring out how to aim them.”
Obama took the opportunity to poke a little fun at our Nordic neighbors, at one point noting some peculiar television fare. “Another show involves a video camera being strapped to the front of a train so viewers can watch the rails, for seven hours,” he said. “That sounds like riveting entertainment.”
But, he promised, “we’re not going to do anything that crazy tonight.”
Nordic state dinner: A warm welcome for leaders from cold climes
Michelle Obama skips Nordic fashion in favor of her go-to designer Naeem Khan
Complete guest list for the Nordic state dinner
Is the Nordic state dinner the funniest ever?
White House set to toast Nordic leaders with aquavit, ice carvings … and Demi Lovato
For state dinner, White House chefs go foraging, in true Nordic style