Jokes are taken out of context all the time and in this digital and political climate, it seems like people are always sensitive. Yet comedian Michelle Wolf says audiences haven’t changed – they’re still just looking for a laugh.
Wolf, who headlined the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner, often delivers controversial jokes on hot-button topics including abortion, the U.S. administration and women’s rights.
And on Feb. 14-16, she will bring her jokes to Stand Up Live in Phoenix. This will be the second time that she’s been in Phoenix for a show around Valentine’s Day.
“Guess that says a lot about me,” she says with a laugh.
Jokes like that are a perfect example of why love makes for good material.
“Any sort of person or relationship is good for comedy because of similar experiences,” she said. “We’ve all experienced love and heartbreak … even if it’s with pets.”
But what truly says a lot about her is her point of view. When it came to the White House dinner, Wolf says they hired her to do a job and got mad at her for doing that job. Proof of that? Next year’s White House Correspondents Dinner will be hosted by biographer Ron Chernow.
“The type of jokes I do are about big social issues and stories from my life,” she says. “You shouldn’t take things too seriously and realize they’re from my point of view, and I think people confuse that in comedy … I’m flawed, but I try to tell people ‘don’t bring your baggage in my joke.’ Work into the show and have a good laugh.”
So when it comes to a laugh, what makes comedy good?
“It’s not what you want to hear, it’s what you didn’t want to hear … in the dark recesses of your mind and then you’re like ‘oh, that’s what I was thinking about.’ You want to be fun and surprising, turn people on their heels.”
In fact, she surprised herself years ago. Originally a kinesiology major, she made an unexpected move to a financial career.
“After college, I was kind of burnt out,” she says. “My friends said ‘get a job with Bear Stearns,’ so I joined in 2007, which was not a good time to join.”
She later flirted with improv before moving full-time into stand-up.
“Improv was very interesting because it’s a great skill to have, but when you’re done, no matter how good or terrible the show was, it’s over,” she says. “You’re never going to recreate it.”
Wolf wanted to be less dependent on people and work on jokes to see a final product, which she said takes longer than people realize.
“The amount of time it takes to make a joke work, sometimes it may take you 50 to 100 times to say it,” she says. “Anyone going into a comedy show should see jokes I’ve been working on for a year or a week.”
Will this year be ‘better?’
A GQ article called 2018 Wolf’s “best worst year,” but the comedian has a different take.
“I had a great time last year (and) the year before that,” she says.
Wolf wants to do more stand-up touring shows, traveling, writing more narratives and hopefully doing another hour stand-up special.
But for now, she’s looking forward to hiking, running and seeing her nephew in Phoenix.
When: Feb. 14-16. 8 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Stand Up Live, 50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix.
Details: 602-719-6100, phoenix.standuplive.com.
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