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Agenda Comedy: How Ideology Before Humor Poisons Everything

Michelle Wolf has the right to say whatever she wants. She's merely a barometer of what's happening in comedy.

The Right is getting all apoplectic about comedian Michelle Wolf's treatment of Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Mike Pence at the White House Correspondence Dinner. It's fine to be upset, but let's not pretend that we on this side of the political aisle care about free speech if we're calling for Wolf's firing from Comedy Central.

She's a writer for the Daily Show with Trevor Noah... what did you expect? And that's the crux of the matter. Comedians are becoming more socially conscious and thus are trying to set the agenda of what's fair game for ridicule. This is something that comedy has never attempted to tackle, because everything was fair game. If you didn't like a particular comedian, the door was open for you to exit.

I've listened to some comedians who have been brutal in who or what they'll make fun of and it wasn't because they were necessarily mean. For some, making fun of something that's taboo was a way of dealing with the discomfort that comes with taboos. Comedian Joan Rivers made 9/11 jokes! Does that mean she's uncaring... maybe? Or maybe making obscene jokes about sensitive subjects is a way of cauterizing the wound of reality. It isn't a way to numb the pain, it's a way of being shocked and laughing through the pain. I've heard some awful 9/11 jokes that made me laugh, yet I still cry when I see the Twin Towers fall. This might not be everyone's bag, so this isn't an attempt to get you to laugh at something you don't want to laugh at. That's the genius of comedy.

That being said, Michelle Wolf's jokes about the media were spot on... but isn't that a problem? Her jokes about Trump were spot on in some places, but isn't that part of the problem? The result of being woke in comedy is mean only attacking those who you perceive as the oppressors. This leaves comedy in a perpetual feedback loop where comedians are more concerned about scoring woke points with their contemporaries and like-minded peers and if the audience laughs, then that's icing on the cake.

Michelle Wolf's performance is another example of agenda comedy where attitude and political ideology are wrapped up in a smug joke. It's not to say that comedians back in the day were right-wingers. Most artists are not right-wing but what made comedians of the past unique is that their main objective was to be objectively funny. That meant that either side of the political spectrum open for ridicule, even if it was the comedian's own side. Now, comedians tend to protect their side and attack only in one direction. The result is that jokes are predictable and bland. There was nothing Michelle Wolf said that couldn't be said about any past Republican politician. That's a sign that comedy might be dying on the vine.

Sorry for the long preamble... watch the video please.

Great Piece Bored. You can't speak truth to power if you're the powerful - well done.


Your post is very useful. Thank you so much for providing plenty of useful content.


You are most welcome!

Great article and video, Bored. Good perspective. Really miss the days where comedy was truly funny, everyone was fair game, but people knew the proverbial lines not to cross.


@ThreePatriots me too. There are times when I think a comedian goes too far. So, when that happens, I put it in context. Does this comedian have any sacred cows thy won’t make fun of? If they don’t, I’ll either skip ahead or leave.

I actually learned a lot from South Park. They said that it was evil (I think they said that, or something similar) to hold a special topic out of reach for parody. I’ve heard of several jokes that made me laugh but were rough. I don’t feel any less about those topics. Opie and Anthony and Jim Norton taught me a lot about free expression. Even if I think something is immoral, I’m not going to prohibit anyone from saying it or getting fired. I’d rather people just leave and take their money with them.


What an incredible post. Gone are the days when comedy is just plain comedy made for entertainment.


They've been like this too during terms of Republican presidents. same old, same old.
Bush was roasted to his face in many a Correspondence. Trump is just different because he hasn't attended.