‘Liberty & Laughter’ Exhibit Explores White House Punchlines

A visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Center could make you wonder whether you voted for an overachieving class clown.

The exhibit, “Liberty & Laughter: The Lighter Side of the White House,” runs through Dec. 31 and explores how humor has evolved and how laughter will always be vital to the country.

As President George Washington once said, “It is assuredly better to go laughing than crying thro’ the rough journey of life.”

“Liberty & Laughter” initially opened in March 2020 before quickly closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The giggles could not be stifled forever. The exhibit returned this spring with opportunities for guests to hear first family anecdotes, engage with interactive multimedia, and see knickknacks related to presidential pranks and inside jokes.

“Liberty & Laughter shows the importance of humor in a democracy,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

“We are free to express our thoughts about our leaders in many ways – sometimes as cartoon caricatures,” he said. “This exhibit reminds us that our presidents are real people, with a sense of humor that helped them in their important job of leading our country.”

Check out awards for the wittiest, quippiest, and most mischievous president and first lady and attempt to copycat famous presidential impersonators.

Other examples of first family foolishness to expect:

  • First lady correspondence with the utterly fictional Marge Simpson and the non-fictional Mary Tyler Moore.
  • President Ronald Reagan’s joke notecards.
  • resident Bill Clinton’s sunglasses from The Arsenio Hall Show and one of his many saxophones.
  • A joke poem by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the three press associations at the time.
  • A variety of cartoons and caricatures of various presidents, plus examples of how presidents have snuck jokes into debates or press interactions.

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