There are jokes that land with a boom, and there are jokes that land like an egg falling off the counter. Comedian Michelle Wolf hosted the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and her monologue went in both directions. Her best and worst jokes elicited a variety of groans from the crowd. She held nothing back — attacking everyone from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to congressional Dems and Ivanka Trump. Wolf’s most biting remarks, though, were directed towards the president himself, who was not in attendance.
Wolf attacked President Donald Trump’s affinity for alleged extramarital affairs (and subsequent payoffs), quipping that, “Like a porn star says when she’s getting ready to have sex with Trump: ‘Let’s get this over with!’” She also joked that, as a woman, she won’t shut up “unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000.” Meanwhile, Trump was in Washington, Michigan (oh, clever!), speaking to a friendly crowd at a rally. “Is this better than that phony Washington White House Correspondents’ [Dinner]?” The crowd roared. “Is this more fun?”
Her most brilliant jokes were the ones that attacked the complicity of the women in the Trump administration. Wolf said that Kellyanne Conway has the “perfect last name. Conway. Con way.” Ivanka, ostensibly intended to be an advocate for women in the White House, is “about as helpful [to women] as a box of empty tampons.” Wolfe directly challenged the fecklessness of these women, who are working for a president that is actively, publicly misogynistic.
Wolf also directed her fire at Sanders. Those jokes are considered the most controversial of the set; Sanders, who was seated near Wolf, was visibly upset with her remarks. Wolf quipped that she loved Sanders as “Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.” Wolf directly challenged Sanders on lack of truthfulness. She said that Sanders “burns facts” and “uses the ashes to create” her signature smoky eye makeup. This roasting elicited boos from the crowd, but we admit that given Sanders’ track record of candor, it’s a fair target. Still, was it fair for Wolf to reference Sanders’ appearance? We would have preferred if she avoided the smoky eye joke; Sanders’ history of distorting facts is material enough.
As is customary, Wolf also burned the press in attendance. She said the obvious, most uncomfortable truth about President Trump: that he sells newspapers and gets ratings. “You guys are obsessed with Trump,” she said, attacking the press’ nonstop coverage. “Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him but I think you love him.” Wolfe is right — they know that audiences are hungry for Trump content, and the press is making money because of it. And in order to cover the president, journalists require access. This may be why journalists like Maggie Haberman of the New York Times are criticizing Wolf’s monologue: they are subtly trying to protect their access.
There was one person that notably escaped Wolf’s wrath: Melania Trump. Wolf didn’t crack a single roast towards the first lady. We’re not sure if this was just an oversight, or if she was specifically instructed to leave Melania out of the set. Melania is, to an extent, an apolitical figure, and figuratively (and literally) distances herself from the president. Either way, Wolf had plenty of material from everyone else in the administration. You can watch her monologue below.
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