Houston Matters

Thanks Obama: How A 24-Year-Old Ended Up Writing Speeches For A President

David Litt discusses the challenges of writing speeches — and the occasional jokes — for the President of the United States.

Pres. Obama and David Litt in the Oval Office
Former Pres. Barack Obama and speechwriter David Litt in the Oval Office.


Growing up, David Litt had dreams of working in comedy. But he didn’t quite anticipate the jokes he’d end writing would be for the President of the United States.

At the age of 24, Litt found himself working as a speechwriter for members of Pres. Barack Obama's staff and eventually wrote speeches for the President himself, including for four of the White House Correspondents' Association dinners.

Keegan-Michael Key, David Litt, and Pres. Obama
Comedian Keegan-Michael Key, speechwriter David Litt, and Pres. Barack Obama before the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Litt wrote a book about his experiences called, Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years. He recently came to Houston to speak at the annual Jewish Book & Arts Festival at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

In the audio above, he tells Houston Matters producer Joshua Zinn about the challenges of writing for another person, about Pres. Obama's sense of humor, and about his new work with the comedy website Funny or Die.

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Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on HPM Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews for Houston...

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