'Of course Trump's isn't here. 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.'
‘Just a reminder to everyone, I’m here to make jokes, I have no agenda, I’m not here to get anything accomplished. So everyone that’s here from Congress, you should feel right at home.’ And so began a blistering monologue at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night from US comedian Michelle Wolf.
In many ways it was an equal opportunities roast, with Wolf hitting out at pundits and politicians on both sides of the fence, many of whom were sitting poker-faced at tables feet away from her.
The fallout since Wolf’s speech suggests a lot of people didn’t take her initial ‘I’m here to make jokes’ disclaimer on board. Wolf has drawn criticism from press and politicians alike for going too far, particularly with a joke about Trump’s White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckerbee Sanders, who Wolf said ‘burns facts and uses the ash to create the perfect smoky eye.’
Responding to criticism of the joke, Wolf wrote on Twitter, ‘Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks? I complimented her eye makeup and her ingenuity of materials.’
Late night hosts including Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers have come out in support of Wolf. Kimmel tweeted, ‘Dear “the media” @Michelleisawolf was FUNNY. Hire a juggler next year’ while on her talkshow Wendy Williams suggested anyone who found Wolf’s jokes inappropriate should head over to Rachael Ray.
Others pointed out the double standards required to attack Wolf for making a joke about eye make-up while supporting a US Commander-in-Chief who has gone a lot further.
Not up to speed and wondering what all the fuss is about? Here’s some of Wolf’s punchiest gags:
She opened with a jab at Roy Moore
‘I’m 32 years old which is an odd age – ten years too young to host this event and twenty years too old for Roy Moore.’
She went after Trump (and Weinstein)
‘Of course Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. 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.’
‘Mr President, I don’t think you’re very rich. I think you’re rich in Idaho but in New York you’re doing fine.’
‘Trump would get to the third question on [Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and be like, “I have to phone a Fox and Friend”‘
‘Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a “white nationalist” is like calling a pedophile a “kid friend,” or Harvey Weinstein a “ladies man,” which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.’
‘You guys [the Republicans] go through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people.’
She didn’t let the Democrats off the hook either
‘It is funny how the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan.’
‘Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don’t do… anything. People might think you’ll flip the House and Senate this November but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You’re somehow gonna lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Paedophile Nazi-Doctor.’
After a joke about abortion prompted groans from the audience, Wolf fired back…
‘You can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion. You know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress.’
She also hit out at Kelly-Anne Conway, Ivanka Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders
‘You guys gotta stop putting Kelly-Anne [Conway] on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, “if a tree falls in the woods, how do you get Kelly-Anne under that tree” – I’m not suggesting she gets hurt, just stuck.’
‘There’s also Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons… She’s the diaper genie of administrations. On the outside she looks slick but on the inside, it’s still full of shit.’
‘And of course there’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little starstruck, I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale… Mike Pence if you haven’t seen it you would love it.’
‘I actually really like Sarah, I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts and uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye.’
The media got a drubbing too
‘We’ve got our friends at CNN here, it’s great to have you. You guys like breaking news – and you did it, you broke it.’
‘Fox News is here, so you know what that means ladies… cover your drinks.’
On the engagement of Morning Joe presenters Mike Brenzinski and Joe Scarborough, Wolf joked ‘congrats you guys, it’s like when a #MeToo works out.’
‘You guys [the media] 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’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.’
What does Wolf herself make of the furore? The comedian told NPR she’s standing by her jokes, ‘I wouldn’t change a single word I said.’
Who is Michelle Wolf?
Michelle Wolf is a 32-year-old former investment banker who broke onto the US comedy scene back in 2014 with a spot on Late Night With Seth Meyers, before going on to perform in a critically-acclaimed show So Brave at the Edinburgh Fringe. In May Wolf will star in her very own Netflix talkshow, The Break With Michelle Wolf.