Marc’s ReMARCs: A Sheesh in Wolf’s Clothing
Forget the controversy. Michelle Wolf Failed to Bring “The Funny.”
Michelle Wolf is guilty of comedy’s greatest crime: She wasn’t funny.
I know, I know. Everyone rushed to their usual corners and is framing the debate about her appearance at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. It goes one of two ways. Either her set is proof the liberal media is out to get the President, or she speaks truth to power. The actual answer is: None of the Above, because we’re all getting played. The jokes stunk. Michelle Wolf took a bunch of poorly written setups and turned all of us into her punchline.
Wolf wasn’t even playing the “Hollywood for Ugly People” crowd at the Washington Hilton. She obviously didn’t care about anyone in that room. Instead, she was targeting a much broader audience on social media, FOX News, and CNN. Once those folks heard all the “F-bombs,” p**sy jokes and digs at Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the predictable frothing at the mouth ensued, from the Right, Left and middle. FOX News’ Ed Henry called for an apology from the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), while Maggie Haberman of the New York Times tweeted support for Sanders. On the other side, Hollywood comedians rushed in to support Wolf. The news networks quickly assembled their panels to argue about another perfectly orchestrated and bogus culture-war battle. In no time, Wolf achieved her goal of trending on Twitter, and grabbing headlines in print, on air and online. As they said in Anchorman, “That escalated quickly.”
All over what? Some lousy jokes. Lousy as in lame. Boring. Old. Tired. Wolf’s set was more Wolf Blitzer than Michelle Wolf, more Chuck than Amy Schumer. About the only thing funny about Wolf’s raunchy set is how the controversy was timed so conveniently.
Who the heck is Michelle Wolf, anyway? That’s exactly the point. Until Saturday night, she was a good-in-short-doses up-and-comer. Not to be underestimated, she started out on Wall Street but moved into comedy, as a writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers, then as a correspondent on The Daily Show, (the junior varsity version with Trevor Noah, not the good one with Jon Stewart). She’s earned a special on HBO that didn’t stink, and now, like everyone else on the planet, Wolf’s about to launch a weekly show on Netflix, fittingly called “The Break.” A break just like the one she manufactured, but didn’t really earn.
So let’s look at the set the Daily Beast called “hilarious.” Start with the convoluted joke involving yarn.
“After Trump got elected, women started knitting those p**sy hats. When I first saw them I was like, ‘That’s a p**sy?’ I guess mine just has a lot more yarn on it.”
Yarn? More like yawn. Wolf had to reach back more than a year just to try to be outrageous. In case we somehow missed how rogue she was planning to go, she followed up with this warning:
“You should have done more research before you got me to do this.”
When you have to point out you’re a rebel, you’re not. Yes, she was right. The WHCA really did mess the bed on this one, especially when it distanced itself from Wolf. The whole dinner is meant to celebrate journalism and the First Amendment, not to be a poorly executed Comedy Central Roast. Hell, Dean Martin had funnier roasts, even with Foster Brooks. But Wolf’s “jokes” kept coming.
“Trump is so broke Southwest used him as one of their engines. I know, it’s so soon. It’s so soon for that joke. Why did she tell it? It’s so soon.” Nothing says comedy gold like yukking it up over an incident that killed a wife and mother of two kids. That’s some brilliant stuff, right there.
Let’s not leave out the jokes about Kellyanne Conway’s last name:
“Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does. Conway. It’s like if my name was Michelle Jokes Frizzy Hair Small Tits.”
Con. Way. Get it? That’s one for the ages. Like ages 5 through 7.
Of course, there’s the infamous Sarah Huckabee Sanders “burn.”
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
It must have been tough to stand there and say those words right to Sanders’ face. Not because they’re true, but because the joke is so lame. No doubt there is a humorous concept waiting to get out about smoky eye shadow made from burned facts. Wolf was just way too lazy to do the work. You know, the whole “find the funny” part.
If Wolf had been playing a comedy club instead of the Correspondents’ dinner, her set would earn her Check Spot status. That’s the comedian who comes on before the big name headliner. It’s called the Check Spot for obvious reasons: it’s when the wait staff hands out the checks, and the din starts as the audience divvies up their bills so everything is settled before the real comedy starts.
Michelle Wolf wasn’t interested in real comedy, or being the headliner. She wanted headlines, instead. Her jokes are on us.
Marc Silverstein is the President and CEO of On The Marc Media, a public relations and marketing firm in Rockville, MD.