The comedian, who's entertaining at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday, says it will be "tough to follow" Obama

By Tierney McAfee
Updated April 22, 2015 04:00 PM
Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Andrew Harnik/AP

Barack Obama is a tough act to follow, and that doesn’t just apply to the next president.

Saturday Night Live star Cecily Strong will be the featured entertainer at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday night – and the idea of taking the stand-up stage after America’s “funniest president” has left her “truly terrified.”

“He’s known as an amazingly funny guy,” she tells Variety in a new interview. “He’s maybe our funniest president. 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. That’s one of the things you think of after like, ‘Oh, I should have said that.’ And so, it’s tough to follow that guy.”

Strong, 31, was so intimidated, in fact, that she wasn’t even sure if she wanted to go through with the gig.

“For the past couple of months I was truly terrified, and then it’s like, ‘Well, now it’s public so I can’t back out,'” she says. “But now that it’s closer I think I’m having less time to be scared because more and more I have to be working on it.”

The comedian says she’s preparing for the gig by watching clips of past performers, and she plans to consult with SNL alum Seth Meyers, who was the featured entertainer at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. She’s also been working with Meyers’ writer, keeping tabs on current events and practicing her routine on pals.

“I’ve turned my friends into focus groups,” she tells the Los Angeles Times.

Strong has also asked the White House to let her peek at Obama’s jokes so they don’t repeat the same material. “We’ll make sure we’re not wearing the same thing,” she adds.

Even though Strong tells Variety that Stephen Colbert‘s ruthless roast of George W. Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner was “the coolest thing I have ever seen done,” she plans to go a little easier on Obama.

Strong, who will be the second female comedian to host the event in more than 20 years, is looking to other women in comedy for inspiration – namely her SNL predecessors Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who co-hosted the past three Golden Globe Awards.

“[I want to say] a couple very pointed things, to make some points that are my own opinions, but still try to go after everybody – not in a mean way, necessarily,” Strong tells The New York Times.

“There won’t be blood afterwards,” she adds.”Unless I trip and fall, which I’m still worried about.”

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