Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong will be hosting the White House Correspondents Association dinner in April, however, this hasn’t stopped her from getting more acquainted with the DC scene.
The SNL cast member, whose experience in Washington doesn’t extend much beyond her “eighth grade trip” and “a couple of Second City shows,” will be featured on the cover of the latest edition of Capitol File magazine.
Strong chatted with Capitol File’s editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Thorp on the set of SNL — discussing some of her apprehension about hosting the dinner, who will and won’t be the butt of her jokes, and much more. Although it will be tough to match the performance of fellow Second City alum, Stephen Colbert –who hosted the WHCA dinner back in 2006 — Strong admits she’s “just looking to break even.”
Below are some excerpts from Thorp’s conversation with Strong
Congratulations on landing the WHCA dinner gig—did you have to audition?
I got a call through my dad actually. It’s a very bizarre story. He texted me and said he got a call from an old friend who asked if I would do the White House ‘thing.’ I thought [he meant] they were asking him—that he had been invited to the Correspondents’ Dinner. So I responded, “Great, Dad, very cool!” And he was like, “So do you want to do it?” And then I called him. “What are you talking about?” We didn’t believe it. Everyone told me: “This can’t be real.”
I’m sure someone was probably like, “What if we have a woman?” Duh.
Are you excited?
A lot of people say no [to hosting the WHCA dinner] because it’s notoriously a very tough room. I was encouraged by a lot of people to say no. Comedian people. They’re like, “It’s the worst room, you even have to go after the funniest president.” I’m just looking to break even.
Will your family be at the WHCA dinner?
My dad is definitely going to be there. I was told I could have one guaranteed seat at the table, because we have to have our PR there, and the writers whom I hired to help me will be there. It gets filled up pretty fast.
Do you have siblings?
I do, and they would all love to come, I’m sure. I have two older brothers. I have a stepbrother and a stepsister, and a biological brother. My stepbrother worked for Human Rights Watch for a long time, and he got a master’s in journalism at Columbia. So he’s very involved. He was over the moon about this.
I’ve met that person—“the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party”—a million times. Will she emerge at the WHCA dinner?
What was crazy is that so many people had. If I do anything sarcastic that is always sort of my go-to sarcasm.
Is there anyone who is off-limits at the WHCA dinner?
I have my own limits. I don’t want to be too mean where it really hurts somebody. I’d rather do things we can all laugh [about]. I’d like to be able to make fun of myself as much as anyone else. I don’t want to make fun of the way someone looks—things like that. Children are off-limits. There are definitely people in that room whom I respect and admire a lot.
But you might have to make a quip or two.
I am okay with that.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to have my little private meeting with the Obamas. So I’ve got that story.
Major private meeting. Do you need me to carry your evening bag?
Before the dinner I think I do a private tour of the White House—all the reasons why I said yes, even though everyone warned me about this terrible move. [Laughs]
For more on Thorp’s Q&A with Strong, check out CapitolFile-Magazine.com.
Watch Strong’s photoshoot via Capitol File.