Watch Colin Jost’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner Speech: ‘The Gatekeepers Are Gone’

By Ethan Alter 

Live from Washington, D.C.—it’s Colin Jost! Saturday Night Live’s resident Weekend Update co-anchor made the trip from the Big Apple to the nation’s capital to emcee the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton. And he pointedly left his fellow Updater, Michael Che, back in New York.

“Michael was going to join me here tonight,” Jost revealed early on in his nearly 25-minute set, which followed a 10-minute address delivered by President Joe Biden. “But in solidarity with President Biden, I decided to lose all my Black support.” But when that joke received a mixed response from the crowd of Newsers, celebrities and politicians in the room, he conveniently blamed his absent colleague. “Che told me to say that, and I’m just realizing I was set up.”

Jost shouldn’t have been surprised to hear groans amongst the laughs. After all, Nerd Prom—as the WHCD is affectionally known—is a famously tough gig for comics. (Just ask Stephen Colbert or Michelle Wolf.) And that’s the main reason why White House Correspondents’ Association president Kelly O’Donnell was terrified that Jost—her first choice for the gig—would say “No way.”


“For me, the big anxiety was would he say yes… and thank goodness he did,” O’Donnell told TVNewser ahead of the dinner. “I know that he understands the assignment.”

Watch Colin Jost’s complete monologue below:

Of course, part of the Nerd Prom assignment involves biting the hand that’s feeding you—comedically, not literally. A former journalist himself, Jost couldn’t resist making light of the uncertain future facing the industry at large.

“Your jobs are not easy, and it doesn’t help that we’re living at the end of traditional media,” he said. “The gatekeepers are gone. Do you know that 90% of people now get their news exclusively from social media? And that must be true, because I saw it on some random guy’s TikTok.”

“I would like to recognize all the print journalists in the room,” Jost added later. “Your words speak truth to power. Your words bring light to the darkness. And, most importantly, your words train the AI programs that will soon replace you.”

Besides the press, Jost also cracked wise about Biden and former President Donald Trump, mining their ages for a lot of his material. “I would like to point out that it’s after 10 p.m.,” he observed. “Sleepy Joe is still awake while Donald Trump is falling asleep in court every morning. Though Fox News said he was just being anti-woke.”

But Jost ultimately ended his set on a personal note that echoed Biden’s own attempts to draw a sharp distinction between the two presumed candidates for the Oval Office. Noting that his home borough of Staten Island voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2020 election, Jost said that someone close to him defied that trend—his firefighter grandfather, who recently passed away at age 95.

“My grandfather, a Staten Island firefighter, voted for you, Mr. President,” he remarked. “He voted for you in the last election he ever voted in. The reason he voted for you is because you’re a decent man. My grandfather voted for decency and decency is why we’re all here tonight.”

“Decency is how we’re all able to be here tonight,” Jost added. “Decency is how we’re able to make jokes about each other and one of us doesn’t go to prison after. We go to the Newsmax afterparty!”