O rly?

Now how on earth did the White House Correspondents Dinner get to be tagged “Nerd Prom”?

This yearly ritual gives wonkish politicos and the journos who cover them a chance to dress up and listen to POTUS tell jokes, while rubbing elbows with a smattering of celebrities. It is the kind of place where Arianna Huffington tells these hilarious anecdotes:

“I remember last year when we had Scarlett Johansson, and suddenly I see her running. I said, ‘Where are you going?’ She was out of breath, and she said, ‘I saw Bernie Sanders,'” Huffington continued. “And everybody was running after Scarlett, and she was running after Bernie Sanders, because she’s a big fan of his. It’s really that kind of company. That’s the fun part of the night. “

Dear lord. Such fun!

Now we get that people enslaved to the dull but essential world of Washington politics don’t get out much. So the WHCD is definitely a social highlight of the year…and certainly obsessed over as some kind of humorous political barometer. But “Nerd Prom,” you see, is a term that was coined maybe a decade or so ago on the Warren Ellis Forum to refer to the San Diego Comic-Con. We’re not exactly certain who came up with it—many credit Kelly Sue DeConnick—but it was certainly popularized by Ellis himself. And used to refer to SDCC for quite a while.

And now Washington has co-opted it! Come on now, Keith and Arianna. It’s not “Nerd Prom” inside the Beltway. It’s “WONK PROM.”

This year’s elite celebs were a couple of Kardashians and Lindsay Lohan. Nothing nerdy there. In fact, we’d say that while the WHCD might ASPIRE to the nerdly wonders of seeing Peter Mayhew, Harley Quinn, Stormtroooper Elvis, Kevin Smith, and Mark Evanier all wandering around trying to find a sandwich…to that we say…IN YOUR DREAMS, Wonk Prom.



  1. If the Kardashians and Lindsay Lohan were guests in Washington, we’ve got bigger problems than fighting over who gets to use such a silly term as “nerd prom”. Is it really worth “taking back”?

    BTW, the American Heritage Dictionary says that “nerd” was originally used to refer to “A person regarded as stupid, inept, or unattractive”. It only later came to mean someone smart or knowledgeable/obsessed in some way. With the inclusion of the “or” in that definition, I think that aspects of “nerd” can indeed cover many celebrities, as well as most people in Washington — maybe even most people in America nowadays.

    The nerds have won. We’re all nerds now. We should have been careful what we wished for.

  2. Heidi, as a veteran of both comics and political blogs, I seem to recall recall the term “nerd prom” came into wide usage by comics geeks and politics geeks at around the same time.

  3. As a longtime resident of DC, I would find the WHCD so much more entertaining if Stormtrooper Elvis was hanging out on K Street with the drivers and the prositutes, waiting for the thing to be over.

    I will say this, though: there is a “furry-friendly” nightclub not six blocks away from the White House every Saturday night. If you really wanted your SDCC experience, that would have been the place to go.

  4. “wonk prom” scans better.

    And yes, I’ll be nerdy…

    May 20, 1978, Saturday Night Live.
    “This page was last modified on 10 May 2009 at 15:01.”

    (When was the WHCD added to that page?)

    I found no results for “nerd prom” searching the archived Warren Ellis forum on Delphi.
    “may 1998 – october 2002”

    Over at

    June 16, 2005

    July 22nd, 2003 is the earliest I can find with regards to San Diego: