McHale, who also hosts “The Soup” on E!, will follow in the footsteps of such recent headliners as Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers and Jay Leno, in a gig that is undoubtedly a test of the risk-to-reward ratio. The gig offers a high-profile platform, but also an audience of 2,000-plus critics from the world of politics and media, not to mention all of the viewers watching live on C SPAN. President Obama has attended, and done his own standup material, in each year of his presidency.
“We’re thrilled that Joel will headline the dinner when we celebrate our centennial,” said Steven Thomma, president of the WHCA. “He’s sharp, funny, and just the type of comic who can navigate the unique challenge of our dinner, making fun of Democrats, Republicans and especially the news media. Washington can use a little good-natured ribbing.”
The event has grown in recent years to weekend-long series of surrounding fetes, to the point where the WHCA last year had to call a halt to a gifting suite’s plans to use the WHCA name as part of its effort to draw visiting celebrities to its room of high-end merchandising.
In fact, the WHCA event is a fundraiser for journalism scholarships and awards for excellence in coverage of the White House.