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01st May 2018

Michelle Wolf is a comic. Let her tell her jokes

Darragh Murphy

Where to start?

A comedian hired to do comedy has found herself in hot water for performing said comedy because it’s 2018. And that pot of hot water is getting awfully crowded.

On Saturday night some jokes were told, some laughs were had, some disapproving shakes of the head took place and that should have been the end of it.

But no story is complete nowadays without the inevitable backlash, the Twitter reaction, the experts’ opinions and the die-down before another scapegoat is cornered. It’s the wash, rinse, repeat of modern society.

The very funny Michelle Wolf has been derided by Washington’s least funny folk because they didn’t like what she said at the weekend.

Wolf’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner speech, whether you found it funny or not, was written to make people laugh, while raising some undeniable points about the Trump administration, the hypocrisy of modern-day media and society as a whole.

On Donald Trump’s campaign trail, he was championed by many who had grown increasingly disheartened with politics in recent years for his lack of a filter. He would cut through the Washington bullshit, he would shake things up a bit, he’d call out inconsistencies in the press and he’d be a breath of fresh air. Yet those who simply couldn’t wait to see Trump in office are the same people who are calling for Michelle Wolf’s head for doing just that.

Being inconsistent about a perspective on consistency is peak 2018!

If you haven’t seen Wolf’s entire speech and are basing your opinion on it off of the various snippets that have done the rounds, that’s your first problem. Her monologue was a well-constructed piece of comedy that needs to be seen in full to comprehend the context of the jokes, the subjects of which were carefully chosen.

She didn’t just stride to the dais, point her finger at press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and start insulting her appearance, in spite of what some outlets would lead you to believe.

Wolf has been accused of humiliating Sanders with her comments about her. Comparisons to a softball coach, the Aunt Lydia character in The Handmaid’s Tale and “Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women” have all resulted in a tidal wave of criticism.

Here’s the thing. Wolf didn’t really take a vicious pop at Sanders’ appearance. Is comparing a woman to a softball coach an insult all of a sudden? The Aunt Lydia jibe was more likely a reference to Sanders’ role than anything else. And Wolf has already defended her joke about Sanders’ eye shadow.

How funny is it that the offence taken after the above joke was in relation to eye make-up and not from the accusation of burning facts?

Again, peak 2018.

Also, here’s something that’s not said often enough… Comics are allowed to mock people, whether it’s for their appearance or not. If you wanted everyone in the room to be treated with kid gloves then Wolf shouldn’t have been hired.

It should also be pointed out, however, that a double standard exists in how Wolf has been treated since making a few jokes about the press secretary.

Where is the outrage when publications post unflattering photographs of President Trump playing tennis or the countless examples of his hair and tan being mocked?

If bodyshaming is going to be an issue then at least be consistent with it. It’s nonprogressive to suggest that it’s totally fine to make a laughing stock of men’s appearances but a serious issue when a woman’s looks are mocked.

The true genius of Wolf’s speech came in her closing attack on the media.

“You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”

The room’s sharp intake of breath at this point was very amusing to observe as several in attendance realised they’d been rumbled for the universal truth that those who run media outlets are delighted that Trump continues to do Trump things.

Trump boosts revenue for publications and TV networks by continuing to say ridiculous things, his behaviour is reported on ad nauseam and then he viciously calls out the coverage with comments that are even more newsworthy. It’s a symbiotic cycle where everybody wins.

And few have talked about that fact openly before Wolf said it right to the guilty parties’ faces last weekend.

The hypocrisy is rife.

After taking umbrage with Wolf’s supposedly horrid routine, conservative comedian Dennis Miller vowed to return brutally because he’s clearly of the opinion that two wrongs make a right.

Jokes are jokes!

Wolf began her set by assuring the room that she didn’t have an agenda.

She set out to get laughs, like every comedian, and while it wasn’t the best set of her career due to a couple of flubs, it will be a defining one.

She’s a fucking comedian. Let the woman tell her jokes.