Michelle Wolf is looking forward to the day when she can rant about the ridiculousness of rompers. The Daily Show correspondent, who’s gearing up for the debut of Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady, her first HBO stand-up special, on December 2nd, has spent the better part of three years cracking jokes about fake feminism, taking on the patriarchy, and hilariously educating late night show talk hosts like Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah about women’s issues. It may sound fun, but it’s actually exhausting.
Comedy wasn’t always Wolf’s path. She ran track in college and she was pretty good, too, until an injury sidelined her and somehow she ended up working on Wall Street where she yelled (a lot) and was pretty miserable. So the self-described “standard overachiever” threw herself into performing and poking fun at all of the bullshit women constantly trudge through. And, in 2017, there’s plenty of said bullshit to spin into comedy.
We talked to Wolf about finally making it with her HBO special, writing feminist jokes for men, and her very real fear of running out of Trump-food comparisons.
Do you ever have moments where you have to reign in the excitement about a piece of bad news?
I would love to have the struggle right now of making something incredibly policy-based funny, something incredibly boring very funny right now. I think that would be a nice relief.
It wasn’t long ago I remember you were doing your first stand-up show on Late Night. How do you go from working at a bank to working behind the desk at The Daily Show?
It was really just a real nose to the grindstone three years. I’m at my writing job during the day and then I’ll do stand-up at night. Even after working for 10 to 12 hours, I’ll do three to five shows a night.
Is there a reason you’re pushing yourself to just be doing comedy 24/7 at this point?
I have had this conversation with so many people that are like, “You need to have a life,” and it’s not that I don’t have a life. I do things, just not as maybe often as other people. It’s just my favorite thing to do. Taking a night off from comedy to go on a date with someone I’m probably not going to like anyway sounds like the worst trade-off in my mind.
Was there a moment when you realized you needed to pursue comedy?
You know what? I don’t know if it was a moment so much as it’s how I’ve always done everything. I’m a standard overachiever. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of very interesting things and every time I’ve been like, “I want to put everything into this because I want to see how far I can go with it.” At the end of college, I wanted to take a break from school because I was a little burnt out and then I started working on Wall Street and that was the one where I very quickly realized, “This isn’t the one I want to throw my life into.”
Comedy and Wall Street seem a bit different.
Not the same. I think it’s also part of why I’ve thrown myself so much into comedy, because I’ve had a real job that was very intense and was not pleasant. I’m so lucky that I found comedy and that I get to do it for a living.
How do you go from Wall Street to Late Night with Seth Meyers then?
Seth is the absolute best. I know when you see him on TV you probably think he’s a nice guy and then you meet him and you’re like, “Oh, he’s even better than I thought.” He taught me so much. I really learned how to write a good joke when I worked with him. He’s a straight white guy, so all of your jokes have to be really good jokes. In my comedy, I can do it from a woman’s perspective. He can’t. They just have to be really good jokes. It’s right down the middle and you can’t get away with anything. No one’s going to give you any leeway.