1913 — Woodrow Wilson, unable to draw a crowd to his weekly White House comedy routine, revives the practice of delivering the State of the Union to Congress in person as an excuse to try out new standup material before a captive audience of legislators.
1917 — Out of any other excuses, Congress declares war on Germany rather than sit through another night of Wilson's attempts at humor.
1923 — Calvin Coolidge, that mysterious man who so rarely speaks but whose sensual glances have spurred more than one senator to make rash votes in the hope of catching his favor, whispers the entirety of his speech into the ear of Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. When pressed for details of the president's policy priorities, Senator Lodge only blushes and gives a little smile and puts his hand up to the mutton-chop sideburn where “Silent Cal” said so much.
1936 — Franklin Roosevelt, premiering his magic act before Congress, attempts to saw Speaker of the House Joseph Byrns in half. He fails, and William Bankhead is chosen as the next Speaker of the House.
1952 — FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is conspicuously absent from President Truman's final State of the Union address, but fortunately a very passable Carmen Miranda is able to fill in for him at the last minute.
1957 — After making several last-minute cuts to the text, President Eisenhower returns to the White House earlier than expected to find Vice President Nixon luxuriating in the master bath, having used all of Mamie Eisenhower’s bubble bath and nearly half of her conditioner. “You’re home early,” he says before taking a deep breath and sinking below the lavender-scented bubbles.
1965 — Lyndon Johnson delivers a 90-minute version of “The Aristocrats,” which many legislators would later recall as the most impassioned and articulate justification of the Great Society they would ever hear.
1975 — Gerald Ford, cognizant of new requirements that a president look good on television, overdoes his makeup and inadvertently wins an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.
1978 — Jimmy Carter passes out packets of homegrown Georgia peanuts to the audience. Although the peanuts are dry, under-salted, and a choking hazard to older legislators, many members of Congress are delighted.
1979 — Jimmy Carter passes out. Many members of Congress are delighted.
1988 — Congress is alarmed when, mid-speech, President Reagan begins beeping, sparking, and smoking. Vice President George H.W. Bush springs into action and tackles the Reaganbot to the ground, foiling a Soviet plot.
1993 — Commentators note that newly-elected presidents technically do not deliver State of the Union speeches but are simply making an address to Congress. President Clinton, feeling the luscious vigor reserved to those who have won 370 Electoral College votes, takes the point about technicalities to heart.
1999 — Hoping to distract from his impeachment the prior December, Bill Clinton conducts an impassioned two-hour performance of sentimentalist poetry. Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey weeps openly.
2001 — A simple mispronunciation leads President George W. Bush to deliver nearly an hour of remarks on onions, occasionally veering into leeks, shallots, and other alliums in an address that the American people found both savory and inspiring.
2011 — In an attempt to foster bipartisanship, senators and representatives agree to sit next to a member of the opposing party. President Obama, using a forgotten presidential power, performs a mass wedding at the end of his speech, uniting Democrats and Republicans in holy, but awkward, matrimony.
2018 — Due to a mix-up between two spreadsheet column headings, all 100 senators and 435 representatives, as well as the Cabinet, Supreme Court justices, the vice president, first lady, Joint Chiefs of Staff, government officials, honored guests, and other attendees are mistakenly made designated survivors and whisked away to a secure facility. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, despite having expected to pass the evening watching the speech from an undisclosed location, becomes the sole member of the audience. His whoops and cheers are sufficient to prompt President Trump to tweet his thanks to the “tens of thousands of people” who attended the speech in person.
2019 — Congress is unsurprised when, mid-speech, President Trump begins sputtering, burbling, and gesticulating. 2,833 Russian twitterbots spring into action accusing Democrats of being part of a Soviet plot.