“I didn’t run anything by them. If they had asked for a script, I would have given them a completely fake transcript,” says Michelle Wolf on the latest episode of People’s Party with Talib Kweli. “I’d run the set for an entire month before it happened and somehow it didn’t get leaked anywhere. Also, no one knew who I was… which was helpful.”
Wolf proceeds to explain how past performers at the dinner had told her that certain jokes wouldn’t work and she proceeded without hesitation. Her agenda wasn’t to make a bi-partisan audience laugh, it was to speak truth to power.
“I’m not doing it for the room,” she remembers telling fellow comics. “I’m doing it for the people at home.”
In fact, Wolf’s appearance was calculated to blow the lid off the access journalism-driven cronyism that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner had come to embody.
“Trump is terrible for the country, he’s great for CBS,” Kweli adds — paraphrasing former CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves.
“Great for CBS, great for MSNBC, great for Fox, great for CNN,” Wolf chimes in. “He’s great for a lot of the late-night shows.”
After Wolf’s appearance, which the president attacked via social media, comics were no longer asked to headline the Correspondents’ dinner.
“Now, after you did what you did,” Kweli says, “they stopped letting comedians come. How does that make you feel?”
“Very happy,” Wolf says with a laugh. Adding moments later, “I’m very happy that it’s broken, it never should have existed in the first place.”
From there, Kweli brings up Wolf’s controversial “smoky eye” joke about then Trump Press Secretary Sarah Sanders — the backlash to which he says felt like part of the right-wing/ conservative agenda. “They needed something on you.”
“I don’t think the right came up with that,” Wolf says, “I think the media came up with that to take away from what I said at the end, which was ‘You’re all profiting off of it.'”
The full conversation starts at the 36:00 minute mark of the episode above and offers a deeply insightful look at one of the big cultural moments of the Trump era. Wolf’s full WHCD set is below.