The Untold Truth Of Michelle Wolf

Michelle Wolf was just your average, everyday standup comedian pontificating on life and shredding every sacred cow social norm with her acerbic wit to comedy clubs and late-night audiences. That is, until that night. You know the one. The night she hosted the White House Correspondents' dinner on April 28, 2018, and unknowingly unleashed a political firestorm with her controversial set. Now thrust into the national spotlight, Wolf's star has gone full supernova, and her trajectory shows no signs of losing speed. From her Wall Street days to her stints on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, to being the newest soldier at the forefront of the battle over free speech, Wolf has covered a lot of ground in just 32 years. 

Love her or hate her, she probably doesn't care either way as long as you spell her name right. Welcome to the untold truth of Michelle Wolf. 

The Wolf of Wall Street

Although Michelle Wolf cites Carol Burnett and Colin Quinn as her comedy idols growing up, she didn't pursue her first love because she thought it "wasn't a viable career option." In what might be the least traditional path to comedy stardom ever taken, Wolf started her professional life in the unfunniest of places — Wall Street. 

"I was a kinesiology major in college, which is exercise science," Wolf said in an interview with TheWrap. "Then, I was either going to get my Ph.D. or go to medical school, but I was kind of burned out after school. My roommates had all gotten jobs on Wall Street, so they were like, 'Come work with us on Wall Street! We'll all live in New York for a couple of years.'"

Wolf secured a job at Bear Stearns in 2007, and, when that quickly evaporated the following year during the global financial crisis, she moved on to JP Morgan for a few years until the comedy bug finally took over.  

"I took an improv class, and after my first class, I was like, 'Oh, I just want to do something like this. This is super fun,'" she continued. "So I did a couple years of improv, and about five years ago I got into stand up. That kind of overtook everything. Eventually, I got a job on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and was there until April of this year and then came over to The Daily Show."

Credit where credit is due

Wolf's improv classes quickly turned into stand-up comedy sets, which eventually led Wolf making her late-night television debut as a comic in July 2014 on Late Night with Seth Meyers. She also became a writing supervisor gig on the show. Her grind paid off two years later when she got hired as "an on-air contributor and writer" for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. In an interview with CBS News, Wolf credits Meyers and Noah for helping hone her comedy skills. 

"Writing for someone else's voice is very hard. And it's a good skill to learn, and it helps you think from different perspectives," Wolf said. "Trevor taught me a lot about, like, performing, and like — 'cause he's — he's such a charismatic performer that I learned a lot of that from him. And I learned a lot from Seth about, like, just like joke writing and economy of words and, you know, just having like strong punch lines." 

Humble and insanely talented? Michelle Wolf is going places. 

The White House Correspondents' dinner speech

If you had never heard of Michelle Wolf before, you knew her name after April 28, 2018. That's when she delivered a blistering monologue at the White House Correspondents' dinner where she put the likes of Kellyanne Conway and President Donald Trump firmly in her comedy sights. However, it was Wolf's jokes about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that proved to be the most controversial, as some took them as a knock on Sanders' appearance. 

"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. ... 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," Wolf quipped. "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?"

While some commentators demanded Wolf apologize, the Washington Examiner went so far as to call Wolf's jokes about Sanders a "hypocrisy of the modern feminist movement." But Wolf was quick to shut that down. "Hey mags! All these jokes were about her despicable behavior," Wolf tweeted. "Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?"

Unexpected backlash

"The filthy 'comedian' totally bombed," Trump (who was the first Presidential no-show since Reagan) tweeted the day after, and, while Wolf might have fully expected critique, she probably didn't expect the same from journalists who asked her to attend. 

"Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable," MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski tweeted. "I have experienced insults about my appearance from the president. All women have a duty to unite when these attacks happen and the WHCA owes Sarah an apology." She went on to call the night "a win for Trump."

"That @PressSec sat and absorbed intense criticism of her physical appearance, her job performance, and so forth, instead of walking out, on national television, was impressive," The New York Times' Maggie Haberman claimed

"Apology is owed to @PressSec and others grossly insulted [by] Michelle Wolf at White House Correspondents Assoc dinner which started with uplifting heartfelt speech by @margarettalev – comedian was worst since Imus insulted Clinton's," NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Andrea Mitchell tweeted.

"If the #WHCD dinner did anything tonight, it made the chasm between journalists and those who don't trust us, even wider," AP reporter Meg Kinnard tweeted. "And those of us based in the red states who work hard every day to prove our objectivity will have to deal with it."

Thrown under the bus

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), the organization that represents the White House press corps and hosts the annual event, hails the dinner as "a celebration of freedom of the press and the First Amendment." So it came as a surprise to many when WHCA President Margaret Talev condemned Wolf's remarks. 

"Last night's program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people," Talev wrote in the three-paragraph statement. "Unfortunately, the entertainer's monologue was not in the spirit of that mission."

Brutal responses were not far behind. 

"This horrendous statement should be a good call for a recommitment to not playing footsie with this administration — instead valuing reporters who do deep dives on its members and their effect on us, then asking fearless questions, relationships be damned," NBC News' Ben Collins fired back

"Every year, I see @whca attendees tweeting about how the dinner is about celebrating the First Amendment. That is sanctimonious enough," Jamil Smith, Senior Writer at Rolling Stone, tweeted. "But this statement reveals anew what nonsense that is. This is performative rubbish, and I hope that next year's comedian ridicules them for it."

"This statement is as cringeworthy as any joke ever told at a #WHCD," MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff said. "The First Amendment is cool to celebrate and embrace, except when it's not, I guess. No wonder Americans don't trust the media."

Heavyweight backup

While politicos and television talking heads were offering their hot takes regarding Wolf's comedy, many high-profile artists rushed to the defense of her stand-up routine, voicing their support for the comedian. 

In an obvious trolling of Kanye West's tweet, Grammy award winner, Frank Ocean, posted on Tumblr, "I love the way Michelle Wolf thinks." Appearing on Today, Tina Fey said Wolf "did her job." "You can't ask a coyote to guard the henhouse, and if you invite a comedian into that place where that tone is set, they're going to give it to you straight," the 30 Rock star continued. "That's pretty much what she did."

"Comedians should be held to a higher standard than [Donald Trump] is. Which is why even though Michelle Wolf left for her new show four months ago, tonight I'm announcing that I'm officially firing her," her former boss, Trevor Noah, joked. "You hear that, Michelle? You're fired!"

Seth Meyers quipped, "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." 

The most pointed remarks came from Dave Chappelle during an interview with PBS NewsHour. "I don't know who those people think they are that she can't say that to them, cause they offend people all the time. And I think that for many people ... it's cathartic to watch that woman speak truth to power like that."

She changed the White House Correspondents' Dinner forever

"The White House Correspondents' Dinner is DEAD as we know it," Trump tweeted. "This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!" Unfortunately, he might be right about the dead part. The WHCA dinner has been an institution for almost 100 years, but immediately after Wolf took the stage, a behind-the-scene debate raged about possible changes to — or the end of — the event.

The Hill announced they wouldn't participate unless "major reforms" were put into effect. CBS News were said to have considered pulling out but cooled a bit "after receiving assurances" the format would change. Claiming his inbox was "overflowing with advice on how to improve the dinner," incoming WHCA President, Oliver Knox, listed the potential possibilities ahead per The New York Times: "No entertainer. No comic. A serious speaker. Maybe a musician. Maybe don't televise it." 

The article goes on to say the WHCA "advocates for press access in the White House," and the "inclusion of an entertainer was meant, originally, as a counterbalance to the president, who traditionally delivered his own zinger-packed monologue." However, since Trump didn't attend, and the recent political climate has left journalists feeling exasperated, one can see why drastic measures are being taken to retain a semblance of access.

Who knew that Michelle Wolf, a self-described "nice lady," would be such an agent of chaos?

Fake news

While social media was busy offering both praises and criticisms of Wolf's comedy routine, another part of the Internet was floating insane conspiracy theories and peddling the fakest of news. 

"Michelle Wolf, a 30 year old aspiring comedian from Hershey, has pleaded guilty to charges of bestiality. Hershey Investigator Dan Browlinski told The Sun that several hundred images and videos of Miss Wolf engaging in illegal sexual intercourse with a number of male dogs was found on her hard drive. Browlinski said that the police department was tipped off by an unnamed informant. Wolf graduated from Hershey High School in 2003, and the College of William & Mary in 2007 where she majored in Kinesiology. Wolf was sentenced to 12 months probation and a $1,100 fine."

Yeah. Wow. This quote is from newspaper clip circulating on Twitter and Facebook. As you might have deduced, it's a fake. Some people also thought Wolf was black. We live in strange times, indeed. 

No regrets

Three days after she became a household name, Michelle Wolf sat down with NPR and said, despite the backlash, she "wouldn't change a single word" about her White House Correspondents' Dinner routine. Addressing her jabs thrown at Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wolf stated that she feels there are people with "preconceived notions about Sarah's looks," and that they were "projecting" onto her jokes. Wolf makes it abundantly clear that she wasn't attacking Sanders' appearance, and she wants people to know that, if they misunderstood her roast of the Press Secretary, they "should go back and listen to it again."

In fact, Wolf pointed out that she indeed made jokes about the physical appearance of others that night, but nobody seems to have paid attention. And, if they did, they didn't care.  

"If there [are] two people that I actually made fun of their looks on Saturday it was Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie and no one is jumping to their defense," Wolf explained. "I made fun of Mitch McConnell's neck and I did a small jab at Chris Christie's weight and no one is jumping to their defense."

To be fair, we assume McConnell and Christie have become used to hearing those by now. Sorry, guys. 

Netflix remains undefeated

Either Netflix is losing money by not offering a fortune teller service, or they lucked into the most brilliant marketing campaign in recent memory because, on the same night as Wolf's White House Correspondents' Dinner speech, the trailer dropped for her Netflix show, The Break with Michelle Wolf. Premiering on May 27, 2018, Netflix described it as a "weekly half-hour variety/sketch series" that "will have jokes, sketches, celebrities, and more." But let's hear what Wolf has to say about it. 

"I wanted to do a joke-forward show, and that's how I pitched it. I try to do the same thing with my stand-up, where it's like, I don't like anybody. I'm going to make fun of every single person," Wolf told The Hollywood Reporter. "So, I'm not going to not make fun of Trump, but I'm also going make fun of everyone else. I don't need to go into any in-depth policy kind of stuff. If you want to hear a long piece about net neutrality, John [Oliver] has a great one. We don't need another person to do that. I just wanted to come at it from more of a, "We're gonna make fun of everyone and everything" — it's the South Park way where if you offend everyone, you offend no one. That's how I pitched it. Netflix liked it and here we are."