Jimmy Kimmel and More Stars Defend Michelle Wolf Over Sarah Sanders Jokes
Donald Trump and certain members of the media may have thought that Michelle Wolf "bombed" at Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner, but she's found fans in many fellow comedians and celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel and Kathy Griffin
Donald Trump and certain members of the media may have thought that Michelle Wolf “bombed” at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but she’s found fans in many fellow comedians and celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel and Kathy Griffin.
Wolf, a former Daily Show comedian, has faced backlash over her act from some conservatives and journalists, many of whom took particular issue with her jokes about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was present at the dinner.
After some critics, including New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman and MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, criticized Wolf for what they perceived as cracks about Sanders’ appearance, Wolf fired back on Twitter:
“Why are you guys making this about Sarah’s looks? I said she burns facts and uses the ash to create a *perfect* smoky eye. I complimented her eye makeup and her ingenuity of materials.”
“All these jokes were about her despicable behavior,” Wolf also told Haberman. “Sounds like you have some thoughts about her looks though?”
Wolf joked about Sanders’ lying at the dinner but did not mock her physical appearance. At one point the comic quipped that Sanders was “very resourceful”: “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”
She also compared Sanders to Aunt Lydia, the cruel mistress of enslaved women portrayed by actress Ann Dowd the The Handmaid’s Tale. Vulture writes that, rather than drawing a comparison between the two women’s looks, however, Wolf was suggesting that like the character of Aunt Lydia, “Sanders acts as a complicit oppressor on behalf of an authoritarian government.”
As Sanders grimaced but remained seated on stage at the head table with White House Correspondents’ Association officers, Wolf continued: “I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women?”
RELATED VIDEO: President of WHCA Admits Problems with Michelle Wolf’s Jokes: ‘Not in the Spirit of [Our] Mission’
Sanders did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Monday.
Wolf also mocked White House counselor Kellyanne Conway at the dinner, joking that she “has the perfect last name for what she does: Conway.”
President Trump, who held a campaign-style rally in Michigan instead of attending the dinner, also critiqued Wolf’s performance on Twitter, twice saying she “bombed.”
And White House Correspondents Association president Margaret Talev issued a statement denouncing Wolf’s monologue, saying it was “not in the spirit” of the organization’s mission.
“Last night’s program was meant to offer a unifying message about our common commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility, great reporting and scholarship winners, not to divide people,” Talev said. “Unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit of that mission.”
Multiple stars came to Wolf’s defense after critics said her jokes were generally too harsh or inappropriate. Director Rob Reiner, who attended the dinner, said: “Donald Trump has so poisoned the atmosphere by attacking the disabled, gold star parents, Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, women, the press, the rule of law that a comedian who simply tells the truth is offensive? She’s joking. He’s not.”
And Full Frontal‘s Samantha Bee resurrected three real headlines—in which Trump advisers excused as “jokes” his comments encouraging Russian hacking, accusing Democrats of treason and musing about gun owners stopping Hillary Clinton—and tweeted tongue-in-cheek advice to Wolf: “See … this is how you tell a non-offensive joke that everyone likes.”
And Wanda Sykes tweeted: Good job @michelleisawolf! #Jokes #WHC The bulls–t you’re getting from the media is bulls–t, because that’s exactly what they are now…24 hrs of bulls–t.”
Jimmy Kimmel also dismissed the criticism, tweeting: “Dear ‘the media’ – Michelle Wolf was FUNNY. Hire a juggler next year.”
Amy Schumer shared a video of Wolf’s act on her Instagram, captioning it: “@michelleisawolf murdering at the #whitehousecorrespondentsdinner.”
And Kathy Griffin, who attended the event, praised Wolf in a series of tweets for her “fearless” performance.
“She was hilarious and confident,” Griffin wrote, adding that Wolf “took no prisoners last night. She roasted Trump, Pence, White House staffers, the media, media personalities. Everyone is focused on Sanders but that was only 1 1/2 minutes of Michelle’s act. She went after everyone…as it should be.”
Wolf “was hired to do a roast. That was her job. She wasn’t hired to offer media analysis or be fair and balanced,” Griffin continued. “She was hired to poke fun at powerful people. Not once did she punch down.”