Monday: The Double Edged Sword of Comedy’s Double Standard or Why Can’t she just be a nice funny lady?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Comedienne Michelle Wolf has managed to do what other Lady Comediennes have done before her. She scored a triple hit on Politics, Comedy, and  Journalism. She’s ripped apart another old boy’s club (or three) by letting us know it’s not funny when a woman does it to another woman.  We’re only allowed “cat fights” when there’s  the chance they get to see our lacy underwear.

So, the nerd prom exposed the pearl clutching double standards of DudeBros of Comedy, Journalism, and Politics. I’m actually counting Andrea Mitchell in the DudeBro ranks for this.  C’mon Imus?  He took deeply personal pot shots at the Clintons that made Trump’s Nasty woman comment look like a compliment!   Wolf pointed to the obvious amount of lying behavior rampant in any one speaking for this White House including its sycophant women.

From Masha Gessen and The New Yorker:

I recognize laughter in the age of Trump as though it were a cousin of anti-totalitarian laughter. It is the reaction to seeing act-based reality, as when “Saturday Night Live” essentially reënacts White House press conferences, or when late-night comedians offer up what amounts to straightforward reportage and analysis. The hunger for a reflection of reality is so desperate that, I have discovered repeatedly over the last year and a half, one can reliably get laughs simply by quoting Trump during a public talk.

Last month, Hillary Clinton got laughs and applause during her Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, which concluded pen America’s annual World Voices Festival, by merely referring to Trump’s lie about the size of the crowd at his Inauguration (around the twenty-three-minute mark here). There was nothing funny about any of it: not about the President’s lies, nor about the grief that this had not been Clinton’s Inauguration, nor about the fact that, speaking a year and a half after her electoral loss, addressing the friendliest of all possible audiences, Clinton was as stilted, scripted, and unapproachable as ever. She was still campaigning, still losing, and there was no reason to laugh.

Political satire in less troubled times exaggerates existing facts, pointing out the absurdities inherent in all ideologies, or playing up smaller disagreements and failures for bigger laughs. But Trump is hard to exaggerate—it is enough, it seems, merely to mirror him. But why does faithful portrayal of fact-based reality elicit laughter in a country that has a free press and a healthy public sphere in which, it seems, reality is robustly represented? What do late-night comedians reclaim from the Times?

Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner suggests an answer. She called the President a racist, a truth as self-evident as it has proved difficult for mainstream journalists to state. Her humor was obscene: she joked about the President’s affair with a porn star; about his “pulling out,” as promised (of the Paris agreement); and about the G.O.P.’s former deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 million payoff to a former mistress. She also made minced meat of White House staff, House and Senate Republican leaders, the Democrats, and journalists on the right and left, in their presence or in that of their colleagues,

I often skewer Campaign Mommy (Kellywise Conway) and Sisterwife Huckabuck (Sarah “Aunt Lydia”Huckabee). They’re easy prey for any woke woman because they’ve so obviously sold out everything modern women hold dear and at what cost and benefit? From Emily Stewart writing for Vox:

Wolf, a former Daily Show correspondent and host of an upcoming Netflix late-night show, skewered Sanders as the press secretary sat just a few seats away from her onstage. Wolf compared Sanders to Aunt Lydia — a fearsome character from the dystopian Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale who reeducates women into subjugation and enforces strict punishmenton them — and drew attention to the press secretary’s lying, saying she was an “Uncle Tom for white women.”

Here’s what Wolf said:

We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.

Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited, because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get — you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time don’t be such a little bitch, Jim Acosta!”

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.

And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know? Is it Sarah Sanders, is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it Cousin Huckabee, is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter.

I’ve seen less flattering and meaner portraits of her and Conway in print media by political cartoonists.  Could it be Wolf’s sex or is it just that TV journalists are more self-absorbed with their own images and appearances?  Come on!  Every one know’s they both lie like rugs. Wolf just pointed that out in a comedic satirical frame.  Is it just the guilty conscience of an enabling set of TV journos?  Trump and his minions are out to destroy a free press and y’all want to demonize the ones shouting that the building is on fire?

From Eric Wemple at WAPO: ‘The president is seeking to destroy journalism. Now let’s debate dinner entertainment!’

And for a bit of historical enlightenment, who can forget the time that two WHCA titans used a USA Today essay to establish rough equivalence between the Trump and Clinton campaigns vis-a-vis their approach to the media?

Extreme caution. Bland statements. Neutrality above all else. Those are the pillars of the WHCA’s approach to the Trump White House. For more on this dynamic, check out New York University professor Jay Rosen’s new piece, “What savvy journalists say when they are minimizing Trump’s hate movement against journalists.” The gist: White House correspondents preoccupy themselves with matters of access and protocol while the president’s “fake news” campaign hacks away at their profession’s very core. “It’s just theater,” said New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker at a WHCA event.

Now consider this incongruity: It was this conciliatory and deferential organization that hired comedian Michelle Wolf to provide the entertainment at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. She killed it, in every way possible. Her jokes were original and nasty, as she roasted Sanders herself, who was seated nearby at the head table at the invitation of the WHCA itself; she did stuff about vaginas, stuff about President Trump and hookers, stuff about the day’s news; she advanced her own career by offending scores of longtime Washington types who used Twitter to express their consternation over her raunch-filled riffs.

Also from WAPO and Molly Roberts: ‘Michelle Wolf got it just right’.

“Thank you!”

That’s how comedian Michelle Wolf answered Sean Spicer’s declaration that her headliningstand-up set at the the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was “a disgrace.” Her response is instructive: To Wolf, an insult from Spicer is an accolade – and accolades, surely, would be an insult. She’s right.

Wolf managed Saturday night to scandalize the majority of Washington’s tuxedo-clad intelligentsia with a barrage of bon mots that, in the eyes of much of the press and political establishment, weren’t really so bon at all. The speech, these pundits have argued, wasn’t amusing; it was lewd, and worse than that, it was mean.

Wolf faced particular criticism for (besides all that sex stuff) her satire of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who apparently was a profile in courage for sitting still with pursed lips while someone told jokes about her — “to her face!” These commentators spun the strange narrative that Wolf went after Sanders for her appearance, when in reality Wolf’s barbs centered on the press secretary’s falsehood-filled performance on the White House podium.

“She burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye,” Wolf said of Sanders. Correct, on both counts — and many would rejoice at such an endorsement of their eye makeup. Callous attacks on women for their looks, even after Saturday night, still belong to the president who refused to attend Saturday night’s event — not to the comedian who skewered his cohorts.

All the same, countless journalists rallied behind Sanders, the same woman who spends her days lying to them. And that says a lot more about them than it does about Wolf’s routine. Everyone who told Wolf to read the room is missing the point: The room, and the misplaced notion of a “special” night to celebrate the “special” relationship between the press and the presidency that brought everyone to it on Saturday, is precisely the problem.

Wolf, according to the commentariat, violated a sacred standard of decency that defines the correspondents’ dinner every year. The comedian should roast people, yes, but she should do it at a suitably low temperature for this town’s all-too-tender egos. Wolf broke protocol by turning on the broiler. Yet the figures she scorched have shattered norms that are far more important than an unspoken prohibition on vagina jokes.

The correspondents’ dinner supposedly celebrates the rapport that journalists have with the people they cover. This three-course fete of access journalism has always made some skeptics queasy, but after the Trump administration’s active attempts to undermine every organization in the room Saturday that doesn’t treat the president as an unassailable dear leader, it’s hard to pretend that the fourth estate and its subjects can carry on a relationship that’s adversarial and respectful all at once.

Yup, That is it. Exactly.

And who doesn’t remember all the examples of shooting women messengers?  Kathie Griffin any one?

Comedian Kathy Griffin has claimed President Donald Trump ordered federal agents to investigate her and make her life miserable in the wake of her ill-considered bloody severed head online post featuring him.

Griffin, who apologized in the wake of the post when she received a barrage of outrage from both sides of the aisle – but later said she wasn’t sorry – was speaking on the ABCStart Here podcast with host Brad Mielke.  She is also attending tonight’s White House Correspondents Dinner as a guest in what was anticipated to be a showdown with the president. Instead, Trump opted to hold a rally in Michigan.

Mielke asked Griffin about the aftermath of the photo incident. “You were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Secret Service. But you did say the investigation dragged on for months, and you have said this goes all the way to the White House. Are you saying that the president personally directed federal agents to investigate you?”

Griffin replied, “Of course.”

A woman’s place in journalism, politics, and comedy appears to be safe when you’re the bearer of patriarchy propaganda.  Otherwise, no white knight rescue for you princess!  Just a burning stake waiting for you baby!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


48 Comments on “Monday: The Double Edged Sword of Comedy’s Double Standard or Why Can’t she just be a nice funny lady?”

  1. joanelle says:

    Great post, Kat. Can that many ‘journalists’ be that dumb?

    • dakinikat says:


  2. Pat Johnson says:

    The MSM has a lot to answer for. Especially when they attempt to normalize the idiot in the Oval Office.

    They are now beginning to seek some measure of redemption by admitting – a little bit – of their own enabling of President Stupid during the election by equalizing his crimes against those of Hillary Clinton. There weren’t any. Yet day after day those damned e-mails were discussed as if she had done something so egregious she deserved the “lock her up”chant that appeared in every Trump event and falling out of the mouths of people now under indictment.

    Michele Wolf “covered” that along with the untold lies shove down our throats by Conway and Sanders and done without any remorse on their parts. They are willing enablers. They do so because it pleases them to do so. For that they deserve every brickbat thrown their way.

    It was when Wolf threw it back into the faces of the MSM that she became toxic. She rightfully pointed out their hypocrisy which goes unmentioned. They have made money from their books covering the Liar in Chief who subjects us all daily with his assault against a free press.

    It’s “funny” to hear Elizabeth Warren called Pocahontas? “Funny” hearing Rosie O’Donnell called a “fat slob”? “Funny” when Michele Obama is referred to as a gorilla? “Funny” when Hillary Clinton is called “crooked”? “Funny” when Carly Fiorina is chastised for her looks? Or how about Megan Kelly bleeding from her “whatever”? “Funny”when people are called “failures”and “liars” by the president of the US? Give me a freaken break!

    The press is more outraged that someone could stand there and call them all out for what they are without resorting to mentioning them by name.

    Sarah Huckabee is a liar. She is also a public figure who is paid by public funds to lie to our faces. Michele Wolf took her opportunity to underscore the truth.

    Good on Michele Wolf for going to a place the press has failed to inhabit. Providing the truth.

    • dakinikat says:

      Wolf compared Ivanka Trump to a Diaper Genie: “She looks sleek but the inside … it’s still full of sh-t.” As for the U.S. president’s decision to skip the annual schmoozefest for the second year, she quipped: “I would drag him here myself. But it turns out the president of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab.”


  3. dakinikat says:

    From David Frum and The Atlantic:

    Michelle Wolf Does Unto the White House as It Has Done Unto Others
    Controversy at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner underscores that Trump’s staff demands decencies and courtesies that it denies to others.

    “Women attacking conservative women for their looks and their jobs It’s shameful. #WHCA” Those angry words were tweeted by White House Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp at 11:15 p.m. on the night of the White House Correspondents’ annual dinner.

    It was wise that she began her tweet with the caution that the shame was attached to women attacking conservative women. Otherwise, she might have been asked about this: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” Those words were spoken by then-candidate Donald Trump about then-rival Carly Fiorina, just one of his uncountable stream of attacks on the looks of women, conservative and otherwise. Trump also retweeted a mocking photograph of the appearance of Heidi Cruz, the wife of candidate Ted Cruz.

    One of the defining features of the Trump White House is that its occupants demand for themselves decencies and courtesies they habitually deny to others. “Can’t we disagree without being disagreeable?” they wonder—and then tweet that the former director of the FBI is a “slime ball” and that Hillary Clinton should be jailed.

    • palhart says:

      Here again David Frum writes what I’m semi-consciously thinking but can’t put into words. I’m in a burn-down the White House mood, but I’ll try my best to “go high.”

  4. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      When I’m feeling depressed I just find a Wonkette piece to read and then spend time in the comments. Never fails to revive my spirit. This one especially does not disappoint.

  5. palhart says:

    From what I’ve read of her comedy skit, none of it could be as insulting as Trump’s “grabbing women’s genitals”, lies, and insulting women, blacks, and anyone who is not a white male republican, They hired her to provide comedic entertainment, but luckily for the rest of us, she provided us with amusement at this authoritarian administration and all the toadies. If any one was insulted, they aren’t conscious of all us who hate Trump’s attack on anything progressive,
    his representing his base, not all Americans, his acting outside the law and the Constitution, and his unfitness for to be President. We’re out here in droves and have unwavering determination to take him out of office, if only we could do it asap!

    The sentiment out here is: we’re coming to get you. Don’t attend to us at your on peril.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It was brilliant. You should watch the whole thing.

      • palhart says:

        Funny, I just did before coming back here to read your reply, bb. I read it rather than listen to it and thought it was one of the cleverest comedic routines ever! Trump and his gang have been asking for such a retort and she delivered. If they can’t take the heat that they have ignited, they need to get out of the White House, out of Congress, and out of the media.

    • dakinikat says:

      • NW Luna says:

        Touche’. I’m flabberghasted? gobsmacked? incredulous? at the continuing refusal by journalism to own up to or even look at their part in electing Trump.

        …speaking a year and a half after her electoral loss, addressing the friendliest of all possible audiences, Clinton was as stilted, scripted, and unapproachable as ever. She was still campaigning, still losing…

        Has that writer ever actually listened to HRC or been in an audience at one of her events? And yeah, winning the popular vote is “losing” only with the asinine electoral college system.

        • Catscatscats says:

          Luna, thank you for your comment; i am not a fan of Masha Gessen’s and that comment made me livid. I watched the intro, the speech and the interview at Pen America and there was a lot of love, respect and admiration. I watched it ALL, for over an hour, in awe of her. Gessen can take her books and her “insights” and shove them up her ass. I hate listening to her “scripted” arrogance for even five minutes. I much prefer Kendzior’s (sp?) research and analysis on autocracies and the perils we now find ourselves in.

          • NW Luna says:

            Obviously Gessen writes about her own opinion and ignores the evidence of her own eyes. Hillary’s book tours sold out. That Pen America event was full of Hillary supporters. Gessen is just another journalist who opines about what’s in her own head without reporting on the actuality of the events she covers.

          • quixote says:

            Gessen emigrated with her family in the waning days of the Soviet Union or shortly thereafter. She has excellent insights about totalitarianism, and the creeping thereof here.

            But sexism? Not so much for some reason. I wonder if you could even get totalitarianism without the early indoctrination into abuse of power that sexism provides, but she doesn’t make the connection.

            You see the not-making-connections about sexism a lot. It cuts closer to home than the other bigotries. Dealing with it is open heart surgery of the soul — without anesthetic.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    This masterpiece from Deadspin eviscerates Chris Cillizza’s claim that Michelle bullied Sarah.

    You Can’t Bully These Motherfuckers

    • dakinikat says:

      Whoa and spot on!

      A frank and honest description of who she is and what she does would be much more harsh: Every day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders plants herself, by choice, between the public and the facts of what’s being done at the very highest levels of American executive power, and does her damnedest to break and delegitimize the means by which the two are brought together. She is one of the most visible and powerful people in American civic life, and she uses her visibility and power—she chooses to use her visibility and power—to confuse the public and degrade its grasp on the truth, rather than to inform or empower or serve it. Her willingness to do this on behalf of Donald Trump, day after day, and the unmistakable teeth-gnashing relish with which she does it, are the substance of her power, and the reason why anybody knows who the fuck she is at all. What history will remember about Sanders is that she is the scum of the fucking earth, and not the jokey means by which one comedian pointed out this inarguable fact—and that’s only if the senile rageaholic pissbaby moron on whose behalf she shames herself on television every day doesn’t annihilate the human race, first.

      • Enheduanna says:

        This just made my day and I haven’t clicked the link yet.

        Scum of the fucking earth – rageholic pissbaby moron………that about sums it up!

      • quixote says:

        I’m not sure Sanders is special in enthusiastic lying. You can’t work for the steaming pile of Orange garbage unless you do that.

        She’s a willing mouthpiece, definitely, but she is just a mouthpiece. The lies are coming from the whole griftocratic administration.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Another great commentary on the issue of the day by Katha Pollitt.

    A Press Corps Full of Aunt Lydias

  8. bostonboomer says:

    He’s not lying.

    Kelly thinks he’s saving U.S. from disaster, calls Trump ‘idiot,’ say White House staffers

    • bostonboomer says:

      • NW Luna says:

        Kelly has told aides multiple times that women are more emotional than men, including at least once in front of the president

        Probably in front of the screaming, frothing president. Kelly thinks Trump’s “unhinged” but at least he’s not a woman.

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    Michelle Wolf has nothing to apologise for. Her critics do, though

    Arwa Mahdawi

    If anything, the likes of Haberman, Brzezinski and Mitchell owe America an apology. They’re all incredibly smart women with extremely important jobs. They’re supposed to be holding power to account, not sucking up to it. Rushing to defend Sanders under a veil of faux-feminism is beneath all of them.

    What’s more, urging Wolf to apologize for what should have been an uncontroversial joke sends an incredibly dangerous message. It suggests that it’s not OK to criticize the president and his people. And it lends credence to Trump’s repeated claims that the mainstream media is out to get him.

    Last week the US dropped two places in the Reporters Without Borders 2018 World Press Freedom Index, with Trump’s continuous attacks on the media cited as a reason for the decline. We live in a very worrying time for free speech. Indeed, on Sunday it was reported that the US Department of Justice removed a section about the “need for free press” from its internal manual. Now more than ever, journalists need to be courageous.

    The media needs to make sure it is speaking truth to power, not kowtowing to the powerful. However, as Wolf mentioned in her speech, even the liberal media is under Trump’s spell. “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’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.”

    • jane says:

      Wonder what they would have said if George Carlin had been the entertainment that night!!!Oh the little snowflakes!!

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        You’ve got that right. The people you here arguing about “snowflakes” are the ones who cannot withstand criticism or opposition.

        In my view it is fair to say WHATEVER you like, but you have to deal with the backlash like a big boy.

        Racists, sexists, et al., have free speech rights like anyone else, but none of us is protected from the truth about ourselves.

        Orangutrump’s biggest fear is to be known for what he actually is. That is why fake news is such a prominent theme for him.

        He is the embodiment of “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes.”

        When you call a racist a racist or a bully a bully, they try to silence you by saying “snowflake.” Now who in that scenario is unable to withstand the sunlight?

    • NW Luna says:

      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.

      This is what they really can’t forgive — she has exposed them.

  11. RonStill4Hills says:

    Donald Trump is a PUNK ASS BITCH! The reason some otherwise rational people are squeamsh about the well earned jabs received by Sarah Hucksterbee Slanders and Kelly Anne ConMan is because we can all see that they have been trotted out to take the hit for the coward in chief. .

    It is the political version of a guy ducking out of the way as the foul ball nails his girlfriend right in the gob. We cringe. We feel sorry for her.

    Fraidy-cat was off having his own little ego party.

    The like any bully or abuser Trump tries to position himself as the victim. Look at how mean-spirited and classless they are…they talk bad about me! Waaaa! .

    The right wing invented mean-spirited and Trump in particular never apologizes. Not for anything.

    But the gullible morons at the WHCA apologized. We’re sorry. it’s our fault. We provoked you. .
    If the resistance falls for this bullshit then we deserve to lose. Again.

    Maybe if we fire Al Franken again the right won’t be so angry.

    • quixote says:

      So exactly like an abusive relationship. And I bet these upstanding intellectuals are the first to ask why beaten women in bad situations don’t just leave.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Ronny L. Jackson, the Navy rear admiral whom President Trump unsuccessfully nominated to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, will not return to his previous role as the president’s personal physician, a White House official said Sunday.

    Jackson, who withdrew as Trump’s VA pick last week, will remain on the staff of the White House medical unit, the official added. Sean Conley, a Navy veteran who took over Jackson’s responsibilities after his nomination, will remain in the role as Trump’s personal doctor.

    So, the Candyman will still not be too far away.

  13. NW Luna says:

    The newspoodles will now censor themselves.

    Cut the comedy? The White House Correspondents’ Association is considering it.

    Several news organizations have threatened to withdraw their financial support of the White House correspondents’ dinner next year if the group doesn’t drop the traditional comedy act from the program.

    The board of the dinner’s sponsoring organization, the White House Correspondents’ Association, began discussing changes after Saturday night’s entertainer, comedian Michelle Wolf, delivered a standup routine that sparked both outrage and cheers with her jabs at President Trump and administration staffers, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.

    Upset by the reaction, some members have advised the WHCA’s leadership to get rid of the comedy portion next year — or else.

    • NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      Ah. The truth comes out. This is why they’re so shocked — shocked! — by Wolf’s truthtelling.

  14. Sweet Sue says:

    Hillary Clinton is stilted and unapproachable?? Fuck Masha Gessen and Fuck The New Yorker. The Media is why Trump resides in the White House and they will never, never own up to it. Cue Michelle Wolf: “I think you really love him.”