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'Daily Show' comic tapped for White House Correspondents' Dinner

'Daily Show' comic tapped for White House Correspondents' Dinner
Posted at 2:55 PM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 16:55:12-04

The White House Correspondents' Association has tapped "Daily Show" comedian Hasan Minhaj to perform at its ballyhooed annual dinner.

Minhaj, 31, will be the evening's entertainer -- a tightrope that comedians like Jimmy Kimmel, Cecily Strong, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert have tried to walk before.

Minhaj is not as well-known as those comedians were when they performed, indicating that the correspondents' association may have had trouble booking a huge star this year.

On the other hand, Minhaj has a chance to raise his profile at the April 29 event.

Former Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore received mixed reviews after the dinner last year. He said later that he knew he "lost the room early."

It's a unique room for a comedian, normally packed with hundreds of Washington journalists, celebrities and administration officials.

But this year's WHCA dinner will be very different.

President Trump announced in February that he would skip the dinner. Administration officials were instructed to turn down invites, too, in "solidarity" with the president.

This means there will be no public roasting of the president on live TV, a big change from past years.

There are also far fewer Hollywood types interested in attending the dinner and a weekend's worth of parties this year. There is a sense in Washington that the event will be much more muted.

It remains to be seen how the president's absence will affect Minhaj's approach.

In a statement Tuesday, he said, "It is a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD! Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press."

Jeff Mason, the president of the association, said, "Hasan's smarts, big heart and passion for press freedom make him the perfect fit for our event, which will be focused on the First Amendment and the importance of a robust and independent media."

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward will also speak.

Minhaj has been a correspondent on "The Daily Show" for two and a half years. He wrote and performed an off-Broadway show titled "Homecoming King." Netflix will premiere a version of the one-man show this spring.