Photo Essay

  • President Barack Obama acknowledges late-night television host and comedian Conan O'Brien during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, on April 27, 2013, in Washington.
  • Comedian Conan O'Brien holds a gavel as he speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, on April 27, 2013, in Washington.
  • Actor Kevin Spacy talks with actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 27, 2013 in Washington, DC
  • President Barack Obama high-fives late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel as Caren Bohan, a Reuters journalist and president of the White House Correspondents' Association watches during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, on April 28, 2012 in Washington.
  • Television host Jimmy Kimmel (L) sits alongside First Lady Michelle Obama (R) during the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2012.
  • President Bush conducts the United States Marine Corps Band, known as "The President's Own," during the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association, on April 26, 2008, in Washington.
  • Comedian Stephen Colbert gestures during the White House Correspondents' Association's 92nd annual awards dinner, on April 29, 2006, in Washington.
  • Singer Aretha Franklin, left, gets welcomed on stage by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, on May 1, 1999.
  • U.S. President George H. Bush laughs during comedian Jim Morris' performance at the White House Correspondents annual dinner in Washington, on April 29, 1989.
  • President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter chat with Paul Healy, right, of the New York Daily News and Lawrence O'Rourke, left, of the Philadelphia Bulletin, as they arrive to attend the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner on April 30, 1977.
  • Golfer Bobby Jones, left, presents a duplicate of his famous putter, "Calamity Jane", to President Ike Eisenhower, at the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Associaton, in Washington, Oct. 12, 1959.
  • President Franklin D.Roosevelt, speaks during the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association in Washington on March 15, 1941.
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White House Correspondents' Dinner through the years

Updated
By msnbc staff

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, fondly known as Nerd Prom, is an annual gala for Washington journalists, celebrities, government officials, and the President and First Lady of the United States.

Typically, a comedian takes the stage and roasts the sitting president. Past hosts include Stephen Colbert, Wanda Sykes, and Jay Leno. On Saturday, Community’’s Joel McHale will preside over the festivities. And once he’s done, it’s President Obama’s turn to take the stage and poke fun at the press corps. 

The first dinner was held in 1921, and it was an all-male affair until 1962. At the urging of journalist Helen Thomas, President John F. Kennedy refused to attend unless the ban on women was lifted.

The event flew under the radar for the first six decades of its existence. But in 1987, the dinner made headlines when a Baltimore Sun reporter brought Fawn Hall, the secretary at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal, as his date.