Hypocrisy is no laughing matter
Within 10 minutes of Michelle Wolf's 'vulgar' and 'nasty' act, she was already
being drawn-and-quartered in the Twittersphere. Wait, what about Trump?
By Bruce Kluger
because I must be missing
Donald J. Trump admits on a
recording that he freely grabs
women “by the p---y” and gets
elected president of the United
States; but comedian Michelle
Wolf cracks a joke in front of the
formal-wear crowd at the White
House Correspondents’ Dinner—
using practically tthe same
words—and gets raked across
courtesy of the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, who evidently wrote it from his
Welcome to the United States of Hypocrisy.
Those who tuned in to the event on Saturday night know that it lived up to its
increasingly farcical format: award presentations for journalists (good); rubber-
chicken speeches about freedom of the press (snore); scholarships for young
journalists (good) and 25 minutes of stand-up from a celebrity charged with
squeezing laughs from a roomful of mannequins (good luck).
This year, Wolf—a 32-year-old former-Wall Street grunt-turned-comedian, who just
landed her own Netflix show—drew the short straw as the latest masochist to
willingly step into that searing spotlight. And she didn't disappoint: Within 10
minutes of the conclusion of her often funny, sometimes cringe-worthy, consistently
profane set, she was already being drawn-and-quartered in the Twittersphere.
“Michelle Wolf is about as funny as stomach cancer,” blasted conservative gasbag
Ben Shapiro (whose word-choice proves that he, too, might want to brush up on his
But let’s face it: Wolf was never going to walk away from this dreaded gig in one
piece. Formerly a showcase for safe, mainstream comics like Bob Hope, Rich Little
and Jay Leno, the comedy spot at the annual gathering of politicos has been, in
recent years, a show-biz hot potato, frantically tossed among edgy, up-and-coming
comics who are willing to risk a little post-event tar-and-feathering in return for the
In 2015, stand-up Cecily Strong used her time slot to remark on race relations in
America (to former president Obama: “Your hair is so white, now it can talk back to
the police”); and the following year, Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore, who is black,
took it up a giant notch by calling Obama the n-word—to his face—and paying for it
dearly the following morning.
But 2018 marks the first Correspondents’ Dinner of the #MeToo era, and Wolf—a
genuinely funny woman who has successfully emerged in a boys-club profession—
fittingly unloaded a fussilade of cover-your-groin zingers.
On being female: “It’s 2018 and I’m a woman, so you cannot shut me up. Unless
you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000.”
On Ivanka Trump: “She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess like father, like
On vice president Mike Pence: “Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson
Cooper isn't gay.”
On press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who was sitting not three feet from
her): “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye.”
And in a show of equal-opportunity bashing, she took on the entire American
media—including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and newspapers like USA Today: “I’m
not going to go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an
The best gut-punches of the evening, of course, were reserved for President
Trump, virtually none of which can be reprinted here (though she did open her set
by saying, “Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with a Trump, let’s
get this over with”). Fortunately for Trump, he didn't have to sit through the roast
with forced, courteous smiles the way predecessors Barack Obama and George W.
Bush did. That’s because he skipped the event for a second year in a row,
choosing instead to attend a rally of his faithful in Michigan.
That didn't stop him, however, from declaring Wolf’s performance a bomb the
following morning, joining a hyperventilating chorus of tut-tutters who deemed the
comedian’s performance an “attack.”
And that’s where I start to burn up.
Just hours before Wolf took the stage, Trump eviscerated Sen. Jon Tester, D-
Mont., in front of the foam-mouthed crowd in Michigan, blaming Tester for the crash-
and-burn nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to run the
Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I know things about Tester that I could say,” the president threatened, “and if I said
them, he’d never be elected again.”
Now, seriously, what’s more obscene to you: a sitting president abusing the
authority of his high office by trash-talking a sitting Senator, or a sharp-tongued
comedian waking up a comatose crowd with a couple of dirty jokes?
But the hypocrisy didn't stop there. Trump was joined in his faux-umbrage by a mob
of equally phony pearl-clutchers, one more inexcusable than the next.
► New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman—who, not one week earlier, the
president called “a Crooked H flunkie” in a Tweet—rushed to defend Huckabee
Sanders for having to stoically endure Wolf’s rim shots. Can you say butt-smooch?
► Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the evening a
“disgrace,” a word that arguably defines his own lie-choked tenure as White House
mouthpiece (a tumultuous gig that barely out-lasted the shelf-life of a jar of
► And MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinsky unleashed a series of tweets to suggest that
there's no room for off-color commentary in these “serious times.” Is Brzezinsky
earnestly concerned about our nation’s moral salvation, or was she just smarting
from Wolf’s observation that her engagement to her Morning Joe co-host Joe
Scarborough was “like when a #MeToo works out.”
Look—this is America, and among the many liberties granted to us by our
Constitution is the right to think a comedian sucks. And we’re allowed to say that.
But let’s get off our high horses, shall we?
Or, as the legendary George Carlin once said, “It’s a comedy show. Lighten the
(Photo: Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images for Netflix)