Michelle Wolf‘s gotten a lot of flak for some of her jokes at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The president himself was not there. I’ve seen it almost live and I want to say something back on some of them, and suggest what approach I would have liked better.
Every time before, I’ve seen Michelle Wolf at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, I found her hilarious. Very sharp, sometimes, but always funny. Well, not this time, except for a few remarks.
Some of her jokes were not funny to anyone, I presume. They were plain undecorated stale hateful remarks in my ears. Even if you hate people, your job as a comedian is to find a funny angle about them. That is not to make them come out more human, more palatable, but rather sweeten the bitterness of having to be on one planet with powerful people who behave horribly.
A standup artist does not call people who act horribly horrible. You call them something funny, an understatement, an over-the-top characterization, you make an unexpected comparison, or something.
You don’t just show off your rancor, to show that you’re politically correct. It’s not your therapy — it’s a session for the audience.
So, I would have talked about the two White Wicked White House Witches. Then I would have said: The First Lady and Ivanka? NO! We don’t attack the hostages. I’m talking about these very smart spinsters. No, I don’t mean single women. The weathercocks that if they would stand on a church, the church would take off, that’s how fast they spin.
Sara and Kellyanne, yes! Why do you think they’re the only two who’re left on the White House payroll? They’re smarter and nicer than all others together. Everyone can lie and cheat. The art is to do it so well that ever the whole press corps can hardly keep up. Now, that is artful.
You see, if you do it like that, at least you give them some credit. They were both there in evening gowns. And people who like them may think that it’s funny because it was overstated. (In fact, it was not, but it does point out their job descriptions that must mention untruthfulness.) And the rest knows that it’s not an exaggeration. Everyone will laugh.
You don’t say that you’re pro-choice and the baby should drop dead. (If this rudeness was an attempt to make fun of pro-choice activists, it failed. It was too rude.) You make fun of both sides’ immoral positions: pro-choice activists being right that women should decide, but often hiding that abortion is a heart-wrenching decision; pro-life activists being right that abortion is terrible but often sawing fear and guilt instead of supporting pregnant women with trust.
Because listen, there ARE very nice people on both sides of the aisle….
I better liked last year’s Hasan Minhaj’s jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But it’s not a competition. I’m again looking forward to further appearances by Michelle Wolf.