The intense discussion about Michelle Wolf’s White House correspondents’ dinner speech started Saturday evening and did not stop, continuing on Monday as the late-night sphere weighed in. As you might expect, comedians defended Wolf — and ridiculed much of the outrage over her speech.
“Comedy isn’t just about jokes. It’s also about being polite and respecting authority,” Trevor Noah deadpanned on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” where Wolf was recently a contributor. “Unfortunately, it seems that some comedians like Michelle Wolf don’t understand that.”
On CBS’s “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert briefly slipped into his conservative “Colbert Report” persona, who — as you may remember — once hosted the correspondents’ dinner himself.
“First, Michelle, let’s address your potty mouth. What the [expletive] was up with that?” Colbert demanded. “This is the correspondents’ dinner, celebrating the freedom of speech. You can’t just say whatever you want!”
Wolf previously worked as a writer on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” and Meyers also came to her defense — ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and CBS’s James Corden weighed in as well. Here are the three main elements they mocked:
1) Sunday’s statement from the White House Correspondents’ Association about Wolf: “Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility. … Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
Meyers: “You hired her! That’s like a parent sending an email saying, ‘Yesterday’s birthday was meant to celebrate Kevin turning 6 years old. Unfortunately, the stripper’s dance routine was not in the spirit of the party.’ ”
Colbert: “Maybe the most surprising reaction was from the White House Correspondents’ Association themselves. They’re the ones who hired Wolf. But after the dinner, they released a statement by putting it on the front of a bus and driving over Wolf. … Look, you didn’t like it? You have that right. Don’t invite her back again. But grow a pair.”
Kimmel: “You know, they hire these comedians because they’re edgy — and then they get mad when they’re edgy at the thing.”
Colbert: “This was a roast, and you’re the ones who hired Michelle Wolf. Being mad at her for doing her job is like accusing the valet of briefly stealing your car.”
2) Complaints that Wolf was too “mean” to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the administration, given some of the things Trump has said.
Noah: “Michelle should have had the decency not to comment on women’s appearances in any way, shape and form. She’s a comedian, for God’s sake — not the president.”
Meyers: “Just know when you call [Michelle] filthy, you’re right! She is filthy. And she is mean, which is what we love about her. Because those are wonderful qualities for comedians and terrible qualities for free world leaders.”
Noah: (After clips of Trump saying “Would anyone vote for that?” about Carly Fiorina’s face, and Trump talking about Rosie O’Donnell’s “fat, ugly face,” etc.) “Now that’s how you insult a woman’s face! Michelle’s joke was about how Sarah Sanders creates makeup out of lies, you know, but when Trump insults a woman, he just says ‘fat, ugly face.’ None of that smart comedy with layers of meaning, just insults! That’s why you don’t send a woman to do a man’s job.”
Corden: “During the dinner, she mocked journalists and politicians. So, you can see why Trump was upset: She’s stealing his act.”
Colbert (in character): “How dare you besmirch the okay name of Sarah Huckabee Sanders?! And I am so proud, right down to the breastbone, that the press is defending her, despite the fact that her boss joked about throwing reporters in jail. That’s the kind of comedy the press likes.”
Noah: “I know that comedy is hard to analyze and set rules for, but Trump’s people get it. Joking is no excuse if a comedian is insulting the president. It’s only an excuse when the insults are coming from the president.”
3) The fact that Netflix might be the big winner in all of this.
Meyers: “Here’s the good news: Michelle Wolf has a new show premiering on Netflix May 27. It’s called ‘The Break,’ and based on what happened Saturday, you can be sure that it will be great. Because she’s not going to waste any time trying to decide when it is or isn’t proper to make fun of people in power who lie to us on a daily basis.”
Colbert (in character): “Well, I hope you realize that no one’s ever going to forget about the speech on Saturday night, and they will never forget — that you have a new Netflix show. Congratulations, good luck with that!”