The Who2 Blog

The Pope, The Queen, and Nelson Mandela Walk Into a Bar…

“I have known few greater honours than the opportunity to address the Mother of Parliaments at Westminster Hall. I am told the last three speakers here have been the Pope, Her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela, which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke.”

President Barack Obama, opening his speech to Parliament today with a little joke. Heh! It was a winner, and all the funnier because it would have been a disaster if it hadn’t gone over. (Shades of good old Oscar Wilde.)

This was a swagger joke.  It’s an I-have-the-confidence-to-tell-this-joke joke. You might even call it a post-Osama bin Laden joke.  Who else is going to open their speech to Parliament with that joke — Angela Merkel? 

Obama carried it off — and the payoff was in that second mini-wave of laughter as the MPs got the added kick: “Did he really just risk that joke?”

The BBC has the full video and speech transcript.

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