I don’t love insult comedy. There’s such a fine line between poking fun and being mean. One person’s idea of a gentle ribbing is another person’s scathing takedown. It takes real finesse to get it right.
The strength of great comedy is that it exposes ugly truths while making us laugh. It tells us something new or shows us how to look at something in a new way. I didn’t watch the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with Michelle Wolf, but I caught the highlights. I don’t think Wolf delivered great comedy, but not because she was mean. Wolf failed because she didn’t tell us anything new. We already know Sanders lies as often as she speaks. If you want to make me laugh, tell me something I don’t know.
The thing is, I don’t see how Sanders can claim offense with a straight face. Honestly, if she can’t crack a smile about this, she may be incapable of cracking. Sanders spends her days spinning for a man who routinely mocks the disabled, calls women ugly, brags about committing sexual assault, and bestows everyone with middle-school caliber nicknames. But she’s upset because someone mentioned her eyeliner? I don’t get it.
Over the past year, when her boss has called various people “dumb,” “crazy,” “stupid,” “weak,” “neurotic,” “lazy,” “a dope,” “a clown,” “a loser,” “a low-life,” “a disaster,” “dumb as a rock,” “pathetic,” “a wacko,” “obnoxious,” “totally unhinged,” “a real dummy,” “mentally deranged,” “little,” “liddle,” “sick,” and more, she has defended him. She likes to say that the president punches back, but in most cases he is straight-up punching.
If you watch Sanders when she talks about her boss “punching back,” you’ll notice that she almost always smiles (smirks?) when she says it. She likes this about her boss—his tendency to hurl insults and assign nicknames. So do a lot of other people. They want a man who “tells it like it is” and who eschews political correctness. Well, they’ve got him.
Maybe Michelle Wolf missed the mark this weekend, but the fake outrage coming from the president and his supporters is ridiculous. When you pledge allegiance to a man who brags about punching his opponents, you look pretty silly getting offended when someone else throws a punch. It’s laughable, but not funny. Like I said, I don’t love insult comedy, but I like it better than straight insults. At least with comedy, someone is trying to make us laugh.