Can Comedy Recover from Wolf’s WHCD Debacle?
The reviews are in, and they’re ugly.
Comedienne Michelle Wolf’s performance at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner drew scorn from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives were understandably aghast at Wolf’s vicious brand of humor.
The future Netflix talk show host savaged Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ivanka Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and, of course, President Donald Trump. Had she similarly slammed any given Democrat in such fashion she’d find herself on the unemployment line come Monday.
Lest we forget how that rodeo clown lost his gig, and more, for simply mocking President Barack Obama the same way he treated past presidents. Hank Williams, Jr. also lost his “Monday Night Football” gig for attacking President Obama.
One A-list comic, known for both his sharp wit and measured tone, let loose on his colleague.
What a horrid human being Michelle Wolf is. I’m going to read up on her over the next couple of days and I will have a few brutally mean jokes about her by Wednesday.
— Dennis Miller (@DennisDMZ) April 29, 2018
Even liberals (AKA mainstream media reporters) couldn’t hide their contempt for Wolf’s tone.
Michelle Wolf didn’t fail just because she was (spectacularly) one-sided. It was because she was unnecessarily cruel on a night the WHCA was trying to showcase decency and purpose.
Undermined an otherwise meaningful night.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) April 29, 2018
That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 29, 2018
Will Wolf’s routine hurt the fortunes of her Netflix talker, “The Break with Michelle Wolf?” The show, debuting May 27, was pitched as an agenda-free affair by the streaming giant. Here’s part of the official press release announcing Wolf’s program:
The show, which does not have a title yet, will take a break from the seriousness of late night comedy. Instead of making the news fun, she’ll make fun of everything and everybody. There will be no preaching or political agenda…unless it’s funny.
Is this another example of a comedian promising to avoid hard-left politics but quickly breaking that vow? See Jefferies, Jim for a great example. If she truly plans to deliver an agenda-free show, this was an odd way to market that approach.
Or will the old saw, “any publicity is good publicity” rule the day?
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For now, the moment offers political comics the chance to reconsider their routines. Have they already gone the full Wolf?
In a way, Wolf shouldn’t be blamed for her disastrous routine. Her jokes Saturday were in line with what we’ve been hearing for the past two years. President Trump is a racist, misogynist Nazi with orange skin. Anyone in his administration is similarly evil.
Hey, don’t forget to tip your servers!
Late night hosts today often avoid jokes entirely, falling back on school yard insults meant to appease their progressive base. “Saturday Night Live” alum Rob Schneider called his old show out on that front recently, scoring a bulls eye in the process.
Meanwhile, oh so ripe liberal targets float on by, rarely name checked by the Colberts, Noahs and Bees of the “truth to power” movement.
How many comics will “destroy” Sen. Jon Tester? The Montana Democrat spread a series of nasty rumors about Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, derailing his bid to lead Veteran’s Affairs.
So far, those rumors are completely unfounded. Did the Democrat unfairly smear an innocent man? It appears likely, although it may take time to fully answer the question. Just don’t expect any finger wagging from Jimmy Kimmel and his peers if the answers besmirch Tester.
Events like this weekend’s WHCD should be a wake up call for modern humorists. It doesn’t mean they should lay down their comic arms. Instead, why not think hard about the jokes being told. Is the “funny” first and foremost, or are they designed to simply draw ideological blood?
What Would Johnny Carson Do?
This likely won’t happen. And it won’t for the same reason journalists refuse to reconsider their entrenched liberal biases. Today’s reporters are immune to criticism. The more complaints they hear, the harder they plug their ears.
Plunging trust polls? They don’t matter to us. We’re just doing our jobs.
There’s little chance a Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel will read the Wolf critiques and attempt some self-reflection. Instead, they’ll be envious they haven’t been hard enough on their GOP enemies.