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Jon Favreau: The famous joke—the one that everyone remembers—came from Judd Apatow. When we do these speeches, we have this long list of comedians and comedy writers that we ask to send in jokes. It’s the most fun part of my job every year. I was in the speechwriter’s office, with Jon Lovett, Cody and Judd was on speakerphone. Lovett asked him, “OK, tell us this joke that you want to do about The Celebrity Apprentice.” We were laughing so hard. After he finished, I said, “I think we should try this.” We gave it to Obama and he was like, he thought it was like the funniest thing he’d ever heard. He was really getting into the Trump stuff.
Dan Pfeiffer: There was so much fodder—these great jokes about Trump and Celebrity Apprentice. And we were going to do this video that had the birth scene from The Lion King.
Jon Favreau: Jon Lovett and I walked up to the Outer Oval, and I tried out some of the jokes in front of Katie Johnson and Nick Rasmussen, and he was not laughing. I was like, “Oh, I guess you didn’t have a great sense of humor.” Little did I know at the time he had a few other things on his mind. Then we go into the Oval and go over all the jokes. And the president’s very excited. He loves the jokes. He’s laughing and in great spirits. You would not know that anything else was going on—the compartmentalization you do as president of the United States. You have one meeting with a bunch of fucking jokers like us about your one-liners for the correspondents’ dinner. And then the next minute you were meeting with your national security team about a potential strike against Osama bin Laden.
We get into the speech, he says, “There’s one joke that I want to change.” The joke is about all of the Republicans mocking Obama’s middle name. The joke was about how, “You wouldn’t know it, but a lot of these potential Republican candidates in 2012 also have some interesting middle names.” And one of them was like “Tim bin Laden Pawlenty.” And he’s like, “Why don’t we say his middle name is Hosni, like Hosni Mubarak? I remember just being like, “That’s not as funny.” And Obama is like, “Trust me on this. I really think Hosni will be much funnier.”