“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.”
That’s President Barack Obama, opening his speech to Parliament 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.
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?
The real payoff comes in that second mini-wave of laughter as the MPs get the added kick: “Did he really just risk that joke?” He did, and he carried it off beautifully.
The BBC has a full transcript of Obama’s speech.