Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong is opening up about her upcoming gig as this weekend’s featured entertainment for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, and thinks President Barack Obama might just be America’s “funniest” president, according to Variety.
Best known for her impersonations of Fox News personality Megyn Kelly and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the 31-year-old was announced as this year’s emcee last November and has been quietly preparing for the role, which was most recently held by comedian and TV host Joel McHale.
“For the past couple of months I was truly terrified, and then it’s like, ‘Well, now it’s public so I can’t back out,’” she told the entertainment news site. “But now that it’s closer I think I’m having less time to be scared because more and more time I have to be working on it.”
Held annually since 1921, the comedic convocation of around 2,600 journalists, media executives, entertainment figures, and politicians, including the president, is aired live on C-SPAN and other cable news stations, and, more than anything else, has grown into a yearly demonstration of the tight-knit relationship between the Obama administration and a complacent mainstream media.
While Stephen Colbert used the pulpit to heavily mock President George W. Bush in 2006, Obama has generally been let off easy. Strong thinks Colbert’s treatment of the former POTUS was “the coolest thing I have ever seen done.”
She continued, “I loved that, and thought it was so powerful and just incredible.”
Ahead of the roast, the former “Weekend Update” co-host already appears to be in awe of the 44th president. She said:
He’s known as an amazingly funny guy. … He’s maybe our funniest president. You know, his timing is great. He had that moment at the State of the Union where he said [in response to his opposition], “Well I should know because I won two of them.” I’ve never said anything that cool on the spot. That’s one of the things you think of after like, “Oh, I should have said that.” And so, it’s tough to follow that guy.
Also from Chicago, the SNL performer’s father is reportedly a former journalist, and her brother operated the confetti cannon at then-Senate-elect Obama’s 2004 victory celebration.
Per Variety, members of Strong’s family will be in attendance and hope to meet the President. “I think that’ll be a fun little moment,” she said.
The comedian also said she hopes to land some “hard jokes” and has even been working with one of Obama’s writers, whom she said reached out to her. “Hopefully–they’ll send me their jokes, we’ll make sure we’re not wearing the same thing.”
Strong would like her jokes to be interpreted as “more silly than truly biting,” and because of her shared roots with the President, she said this year was the right time. She told Variety that 2015 “felt like the right year. … It was really sort of like, ‘Well, it’s now or never.'”
WHCA President Christi Parsons spoke of Strong’s selection last November: “Her political humor is sly and edgy, and it comes with a Chicago accent.”
The sketch comedian will be just the fourth woman in the history of the function to serve as the featured entertainer.
The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will be held on Saturday, April 25.