As a stand-up comic, Michelle Wolf is a decided blend of sharp observational comedy, amusing storytelling and the occasional uncomfortable truth.
In her latest three-part special on Netflix that came out earlier this month dubbed simply “It’s Great To Be Here,” she tackles nudist beaches, lesbians, the gross things men like and the absurdity of restless leg syndrome.
She promises all new material, which is standard after a comic releases a special.
Wolf, whose gravelly voice sounds like a mashup of Fran Drescher, Rita Rudner and Natasha Lyonne, first found her comedy footing in 2015 on a YouTube series, then as a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” which led to an HBO stand-up special in 2017. She was then granted the hosting job for the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner.
That gig, which then-president Donald Trump skipped, boosted her profile, she said.
“The media did a great job diverting attention away from what I was actually saying,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a brief interview last week. “The media made it seem like I was either making fun of Bernie Sanders or being anti-Trump. But what I was doing was calling the media out for doing a terrible job and profiting off not just Trump but treating news as entertainment.”
And sadly, she said, it hasn’t gotten better since 2018. “It’s been pretty much all downhill. But we’re all in this together. That’s what’s important.”
For her latest special, she decided to create three 30-minute episodes instead of the standard one-hour Netflix usually sets aside for comedy specials.
“I wanted to do something in digestible chunks instead of an arbitrary hour collection of jokes,” Wolf said. “Each one is a satisfying bite.”
She talks a bit about having a boyfriend and living with him in Barcelona, Spain, where she isn’t recognized too often. “I do get strange looks but that’s probably because I don’t think there are a lot of curly redheads there,” she said.
Gender issues are a favorite topic of hers. Her 2019 Netflix special features a hilarious extended string of jokes imagining if men had periods instead of women. In the latest one, she explores the gender gap when it comes to serial killers.
“If we’re going to have equality, let’s get it everywhere,” Wolf said, summarizing one of her bits. “Sure, women are known as compassionate individuals but let’s get to murdering!”
In the second episode, Wolf delighted in pointing out how good white men were at annihilating Native Americans in North America, then “rebranding it as Thanksgiving.”
She notes that “men have been making fun of women forever. It’s just fun for me to see the opposite different perspective. But I do land on the side that we are all kind of terrible.”
In fact, in the special, she said: “I make fun of white women a lot and the only reason I do it is because it’s fun and easy.”
For instance, white women, she said, “don’t want to give up being the victim but we also want to be in charge. We want to be head victim in charge. We want to be the manager but we also want to ask for the manager.”
And over the years, to ward off “equality,” white men kept white women feeling comfortable, she said, noting: “It was a very air-conditioned oppression.”
Wolf isn’t the type of comic who gets hung up by haters on social media: “People will like it or hate it. I feel that’s better than to feel nothing. A friend of mine said don’t pay attention to the critics, don’t pay attention to the fans because they’re both sides of the same coin. Put out what you want. Work on what you want.”
IF YOU GO
Michelle Wolf, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, $32.50 and up (sold out), Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, www.axs.com
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.