Comedian Matt Friend draws gasps at White House Correspondents' dinner with joke about Kristi Noem killing her dog

Friend, doing a spot-on impression of Donald Trump, also joked about a man who recently set himself on fire outside the former president's criminal trial.

Comedian Matt Friend found himself facing a tough crowd during the 2024 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night, where his topical jokes about a dead puppy and self-immolation elicited audible gasps from the audience.

The celebrity impressionist took on the persona of former President Donald Trump in a bit preceding remarks by President Joe Biden and the night's headliner, Saturday Night Live star Colin Jost. After a video showing then-President Barack Obama roasting Trump at the 2011 banquet, Friend stood in the center of the estimated 2,600 attendees doing an impressive vocal imitation of the politician.

“It is really a tremendous opportunity to be at the most failed dinner anyone's ever seen. Great to see you losers,” he greeted the crowd.

"Why is it so quiet? What's happening? It's quieter than Sleepy Joe," he remarked, before launching into a series of jokes referencing current events.

<p>C-Span</p> Matt Friend at the 2024 White House Correspondents' Association dinner


Matt Friend at the 2024 White House Correspondents' Association dinner

"This dinner is sadder than Taylor Swift's new album, The Tortured President's Department, right?” he asked. After a quip about an impending TikTok ban, he added, "Let's face it, folks. I'm on fire right now, like the guy outside the courthouse, right?"

The joke — a reference to a man who set himself on fire outside the courthouse where Trump's criminal trial was taking place and later died of his injuries — earned a mixed reaction of laughs, groans, and gasps from audience. "Not soon enough, not soon enough," Friend replied, before drawing more audible gasps with the line, "I am killing this dinner harder than Kristi Noem kills the puppies."

Noem, the governor of South Dakota and a potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Trump, faced public backlash this week for admitting to killing her dog.

In her upcoming book, Noem reportedly describes taking her 14-month-old pup Cricket — whom she calls "untrainable" and "less than worthless" — to a gravel pit and shooting her dead, per The Guardian, which obtained an early copy of No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward. Noem defended her actions on Friday, writing on X: "We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm. Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years."

Several viewers noted on social media that the audience at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner — which consisted mostly of political journalists and government officials — seemed especially tepid during both Friend's and Jost's political jokes.

"Watching the WHCA dinner, the crowd is being tough on Colin Jost as they were with comedian Matt Friend," one user wrote on X.

"Matt Friend just learned that nobody in Washington thinks that Trump was funny," posted another.

Friend gained popularity on social media with his spot-on impressions of celebrities like Howard Stern, Jeff Goldblum, and John Oliver, with the celebs themselves often joining him in his videos. He recently announced he'll be launching a podcast, Friend in High Places, later this spring on Bill Maher‘s Club Random Studios network.

Watch Friend's full performance, in which he also does impressions of Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell, above. A full broadcast of the dinner is available on C-SPAN's YouTube account.

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