Barack Obama is revealing a surprising goal Michelle Obama had as first lady. In a digital cover story for Vanity Fair, the 44th president explains why his wife once opted out of a beach day with him and their youngest daughter, Sasha.
"'This is one of my main goals as first lady. I will not be photographed by the paparazzi in a bathing suit,'" Barack recalls his wife telling him. "And she succeeded."
While the former first lady "was serious" about her desire not to be photographed in a swimsuit, Barack notes that his wife is actually "funnier" than he is most of the time.
"I have to say that, because she insists that she is," he quips. "She’s naturally just a great storyteller. There’s a rule in our household that she can tease me but I cannot tease her. I pointed out that’s not fair, and she says, 'Yeah. So what?' I am often the brunt of her humor, and the girls have picked up on that."
Though Barack is often "the recipient of mockery and jokes" around his family, he takes joy in humor regardless, as it helps to "explain the world around us."
"The human condition can be absurd, and if you learn to laugh about it, then that helps you get through pain and hardship and difficulty," he says, before jokingly boasting about his own comedic sensibilities.
"I am funny," Barack insists. "I slayed at the Correspondents’ Dinner. The professional comics never wanted to follow me. Come on!"
Humor plays a large role in Obama's memoir, A Promised Land, but so do some more challenging moments with his wife.
"A lot of the book is the story of our love and our partnership, and the sacrifices she made for the career path I chose," he says. "And, needing to be honest about the fact that she really didn’t want me to be in politics, and it hurt her in a lot of ways."
"I was helped by the fact that she wrote her book first, she had already put out some of that, so that it wasn’t so much me, you know, pulling back the curtain," he continues of his wife's 2018 memoir, Becoming. "She had already done that. I was just giving my perspective in terms of how I felt about her distress around some of our decisions."
A Promised Land is out now.