It was 1995. Bill Clinton was president. His wife, Hillary, had been through a bruising political defeat after leading a charge to reform health care. And Forrest Gump won the Academy Award for best picture.
So when the Gridiron Club, one of the oldest journalist groups in Washington, held its annual dinner, it must have seemed obvious how the first lady would make a splash — she would star as "Hill-ry Gump" in a video loaded with topical comedy. (Skits are a staple of the Gridiron dinner, which is supposed to be off the record, and given how the performances from politicians and reporters can go, they might wish that were honored better.)
This week, Clinton's campaign went for an even more awkward style of comedy to reach millennial voters as she made an appearance on Zach Galifianakis' Web series Between Two Ferns.
A lot of those voters actually weren't even born yet when Forrest Gump became a big deal, so here is a guide to some of the jokes that were probably hilarious 21 years ago.
Forrest Gump — This is a classic film released in 1994. It stars Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, a man with an intellectual disability from Greenbow, Ala., whose "mama always said, 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.'" Gump was portrayed popping up throughout major historical events of the 1960s and '70s, like the desegregation of the University of Alabama, the Vietnam War, an anti-war protest in Washington and the Watergate break-in. He even encounters major figures of the time, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and John Lennon.
"That's what everybody calls me, except on the Connie Chung show" — The mother of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CBS' Eye to Eye with Connie Chung that her son called Clinton a certain bad word that rhymes with itch in private.
"That's my house back there" — Before she ran for president herself, Clinton actually did reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., when her husband, Bill, was president from 1993 to 2001.
"Like a box of chocolates ..." — This is the most famous line from Forrest Gump.
Health care policy — President Bill Clinton put Hillary Clinton in charge of a serious attempt to reform the health care system during his first term. It failed. The detail with which she speaks about health care policy shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who closely watches the 2016 race, as Clinton has run as essentially the prospective "wonk in chief." But it shows just how deeply involved Clinton was and is about policy.
"Counterculture McGovernick" — Gingrich led his party to victory in 1994, taking back power in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Gingrich promised to squash the "Great Society, counterculture, McGovernick" influence in the U.S. — a reference to the progressive 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern, who won only Massachusetts in his race against Richard Nixon.
"Dole 96" — That appears on the side of a bus driving by the bus stop. That references what would be the campaign of Kansas Sen. Bob Dole as the GOP nominee in 1996. He was defeated by Bill Clinton.
Hairstyles — Scrutiny of Clinton's look is nothing new. The first lady's steadily morphing hairdos received plenty of attention in the 1990s. She tried to lean into it to lampoon the superficial talk. Clinton and supporters have lamented the double standards she feels are applied to female candidates.
Gadfly through history — Clinton's appearances through history are not completely fictional. She was not the source for Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during Watergate known as "deep throat," the nickname for the source named after a 1972 pornographic movie. (That was revealed in 2005 to be former FBI associate director Mark Felt.) But she did work as a staffer for the House Judiciary Committee as it pursued the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
"The Agenda" — A book by Bob Woodward that provided a detailed accounting of Bill Clinton's bumpy first year in the White House.
"Mayonnaise"/"Malaise" — President Jimmy Carter disappeared from public view in 1979, as the economy was in trouble and the nation was beset by a gasoline shortage. He delivered a speech calling on the country to be more self-reflective, speaking of a "crisis of confidence." Although Carter never used the word, it has come to be known as the "malaise" speech.
Michael Dukakis in the tank — Possibly the worst photo op in the history of politics.
"Dornan '96" — Former Rep. Bob Dornan was a dark-horse GOP candidate for president in 1996, described by the Washington Post in 1998 as the former "enfant terrible of the House Republican caucus." To make an edgy joke, Clinton seems to suggest here that he was a "nutcase Republican."
"Too many" reporters — Clinton was addressing the Gridiron Club. She had a tough relationship with the press throughout her husband's run for president and his time in the White House. And for years afterward.
French fries — Bill Clinton's vegan habits in recent years could have surprised anyone who spent time with him in the 1990s. Clinton's penchant for fast food was well-known and mocked.