Paul Ryan's Corny Jokes Allow Americans to Do Something Rare, Laugh Together

At a time when Americans are bombarded with extreme political humor every day, with name-calling jokes from the president, pointed humor from professional comediens, and weird tweets from celebrities, it feels good to occasionally get back to basics: dad jokes. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., offered some awkward groaners in a corny video this week, in which he offered his regrets for being unable to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner. The tone is in stark contrast to the dinner, where comedian Michelle Wolf made such vicious fun of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that the New York Times wondered if she had killed the correspondents' dinner tradition entirely. Watching the video is a comfortable relief from the chaos of our times. You know when you're supposed to laugh, and you know that when Ryan, who is retiring from Congress this year, mentions John Boehner, the former speaker is laughing along, too. These are not culture-changing jokes, and we certainly need the biting comedy of performers like Wolf, who push us to be better people. But occasionally Americans still need to laugh together, and we hardly ever do it anymore. Our laugh-together comedians are largely retired, gone or exposed: Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, Bill Cosby. We are left with Paul Ryan and all the other grinning dads across the country.So here's to bad dad jokes, and here's to the tradition of gathering for a fancy dinner each year to honor the First Amendment. Below is a transcript of Ryan's video.Good evening, everyone. Paul Ryan here. I'm sorry that the Correspondents' Association decided against my idea to have the dinner in Janesville this year, so unfortunately I'm not able to be there with you tonight.Instead, Janna and I will be spending the evening freshening up my LinkedIn page — waiter, the Tortilla Coast, 1991 to 1994.You know, I'm looking forward to figuring out whatever is next for me, but I am going to miss sparring with the press every day. In fact, boredom is probably my biggest worry for life after Congress. Luckily, Boehner texted me the other day and said he's found something that helps him chill out. Something to do with grass? I don't know.Anyway, I just want to say a quick word to congratulate the young men and women who are receiving scholarships this evening. I was able to visit with them yesterday, and it affirmed for me that the future of journalism is indeed bright. My message to the next generation of reporters is simple: know that what you do matters. There's so much noise out there, but our republic does not work without an informed electorate. Pay attention to the policy, not just the personalities. Look at the human impact, not just the horserace. And above all, challenge yourself to challenge us, those in public office. Because what you do matters. It provides transparency and accountability. Done right, journalism can not just inform but empower citizens.   Continue reading...

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