Blog: Just Not Funny

Burt Ross

I know that this particular column may offend some of my friends on the left, but I have often offended my friends on the right, so I guess you could say I am an equal opportunity offender. I happened to watch the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April. If you missed it, consider yourself among the lucky ones.

The low point of a boring evening came when Michelle Wolf, a comedian, performed for almost 20 minutes–which felt like eternity. She spoke truth to power, occasionally entertained, but was gross, vulgar and in bad taste for much of her performance.

The job of a comic is to entertain and make people laugh, and judging by the faces of most of those in the audience, Michelle failed miserably. She should not be tarred and feathered for taking risks. Comedians bomb all the time.

Humor is a risky business. Good comedians risk offending. They go to the very edge, and sometimes cross the line of good taste, but Michelle, for much of her performance, was way over the line. 

I try to write a humor column, and I understand that some people are occasionally offended by what I write. I have already been accused by fellow Malibuites of being insensitive to chickens, not being a patriot, and minimizing the importance of earthquakes. What one finds funny is entirely subjective, and that is the essence of humor.

While Fox News is luxuriating in this newfound opportunity to paint the entire liberal community with Michelle’s routine, as if it were the worst thing to happen to our country since Pearl Harbor, many comics and members of the fourth estate have come to her defense. They point out that those inviting Michelle to the dinner should have known what they were getting, Michelle had every right to exercise her First Amendment right of free speech, and Trump has also been mean, gross, vulgar and in bad taste. These observations are all true but simply do not excuse what I heard.

I recently viewed a rerun of a Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump which was originally aired back around 2011. It is unfathomable to think that anybody who participated in that horrifically gross show could ever be our president. The roast made Michelle’s performance look church-like.

But no political persuasion holds a monopoly on bad taste. Vulgar is vulgar whether from the right or from the left. Period! A comedian is supposed to make you smile, laugh a little, or laugh so hard you wet your pants, but based on the audience’s reaction to Michelle, she was just not funny.