She has held her own against her peers at Saturday Night Live, but Cecily Strong will soon face her toughest challenge yet when she hosts this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
The 31-year-old is a surprising choice to host the annual dinner. She’s not a stand-up comedian like her SNL co-host Seth Meyer, nor is she a known host like Jon Stewart.
But what she is is a veteran at improvisation who has honed her skills at Chicago’s Second City and iO comedy theaters, a skill that should come in handy at the White House roast.
She’s also, as the WHCA’s president Christi Parsons describes – “the nice girl who’s cutting in a way that you don’t really notice until later.” – making her perfect for delivering those zingers to the politicians and journalists in attendance.
Among those who’ll be in attendance is Strong’s father, a former journalist who was the one the Correspondents’ Association got in touch with first. Parsons emailed him to get in touch with Cecily.
“I thought he was saying he had been invited. So I said, “Uh, great, Dad…have fun?” the SNL mainstay said before realizing the invitation was for her.
Despite joking that she was hoping to find an excuse to turn down the offer, Cecily admits that “it’s too exciting to say no to.”
“I would kick myself. How many times will I get to do this again? Never—he’s not going to have anymore! He’s done being president now! I’m giving him his last hurrah,” she added.
— People magazine (@people) April 23, 2015
And giving President Obama a fitting sendoff worries the funny lady, especially since she believes he’s the “funniest president” America has ever had.
“He’s known as an amazingly funny guy,” she admits in an interview. “You know, his timing is great. He had that moment at the State of the Union where he said, ‘Well, I should know because I won two of them.’ I’ve never said anything that cool on the spot. And so, it’s tough to follow that guy.”