Leading article: A frown a minute

Of all the demands made of a new US President, the most daunting is neither the first state banquet nor the first international summit, but the first White House Correspondents' dinner.

The hard-won aura of statesmanship must be thrown to the four winds, as he takes a turn as a stand-up comedian instead. It stands to reason, perhaps, that some of the least able presidents have made some of the best comics: George W Bush was a natural – as the stand-up, since you ask.

Barack Obama, whose natural tone combines authority with self-deprecation, was always going to find the gig more difficult – even with the best scriptwriter White House money could buy. He just about made the grade. Let's be grateful, though, for small mercies. Stand-up comedy is one rite of passage British prime ministers are spared... No, don't even entertain the idea. Or, if you do, think again: isn't Heathcliffian moroseness eminently better suited to the times?