As they made their way into the White House more than a decade ago, Barack and Michelle Obama had a lot of goals they set out for themselves--but one thing the former First Lady wanted to make sure of may seem pretty unusual.
In his digital cover story for Vanity Fair, Obama is giving even more insight into his life as president than he already did throughout his new memoir, A Promised Land. During one segment in particular, Barack explains why his wife once decided to opt 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 throughout their 8 years serving as president and first lady, “she succeeded.”
While Obama insists Michelle “was serious” about her desire not to be photographed in a swimsuit, Barack also 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 jokes in the interview. “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.”
While Barack is often “the recipient of mockery and jokes” with both his wife and his two daughters, he makes a point of taking 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 going on to boast about his own comedic ability.
“I am funny,” Obama insists. “I slayed at the Correspondents’ Dinner. The professional comics never wanted to follow me. Come on!”
While humor definitely plays a huge role in Barack’s memoir, he also delves deep into some more challenging moments with Michelle.
“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.”
A Promised Land is out now.