Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Good Comedy Afflicts the Comfortable

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Good Comedy Afflicts the Comfortable

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Good comedy afflicts the comfortable


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published May 2:

It's been said the role of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

That journalism maxim, paraphrased from Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne, could just as easily apply to comedy. Good comedy punches up, not down. Good comedy does not make the afflicted the punchline. Good comedy tells the truth. Good comedy makes powerful people uncomfortable. And good comedy makes people laugh.

By those metrics, Michelle Wolf is a good comedian. On Saturday night, she delivered a scorched-earth roast at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, D.C., that made many people very, very uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that Saturday night's event may be the last.

Ms. Wolf pulled zero punches. She called U.S. President Donald Trump out for being a no-show, joking that she'd drag him there herself, "but as it turns out, the president of the United States is the one pussy you're not allowed to grab." (Judging from all the pearl-clutching that followed on Sunday, only the president of the United States is allowed to say the p-word, apparently.)

She didn't stop there. She said Ivanka Trump was "as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons," and then likened White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Aunt Lydia, the cattle-prod wielding enforcer from The Handmaid's Tale, and a barking gym coach.

Joking about Ms. Sanders' "resourcefulness," Ms. Wolf quipped: "She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye."

Well, "a perfect smoky eye" is what crossed the line. Several journalists, including the New York Times' Maggie Haberman and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, rushed to Twitter in Sanders' defence. "Watching a wife and mother be humiliated on national television for her looks is deplorable," Ms. …

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