“Isn’t it a wonderful time to be alive?” Michelle Wolf’s opening statement elicited a telling silence from the crowd. “Not so much”, was the telepathic response. But for a comedian like Wolf, a year as cataclysmic as 2016 is something of a treat, a near-limitless stimulus for comedy. As for the rest of us: well, if we’re stuck on this sinking ship, a bit of a laugh will do quite nicely.
In this witty hour of zeitgeist-focused standup the good more than compensates for the ever so slightly tired.
Wolf’s material glides between topical social observations and more intimate anecdotes. Wolf is a contributor to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, so a certain flair was expected when it came to current affairs; and, surely enough, Wolf delivered a satisfying batch of political observations with pointed derision and gleeful flippancy.
Wolf treated both presidential candidates with nonpartisan irreverence, perhaps the only suitable response in such a pantomime of a political season. Some of her most effective material revolved around Hillary Clinton, celebrating the arrival of the first female President whilst nimbly mocking what deserves to be mocked, including that peculiar business partnership-cum-marriage with Bill.
Wolf is a feminist, and vents some of her frustration at eminently hashtaggable movements taking priority over some slightly more important battles. Not all social movements are created equal, she: #freethenipple is nice and fun, but maybe, Wolf ventured, maybe, it can wait till after equal pay’s secured. Her takedown of the current trend for indiscriminate, phoney internet blandishments — “Everyone’s ‘so brave and so beautiful’ now. You get that one for free.” — is also a hilarious, refreshing, and necessary blast of cynicism in the face of such suffocating, vacuous positivity.
Not all Wolf’s material is created equal, however. A fair amount of the audience’s time is taken up by that old standby of standup: men and women are different, guys, trust me. Thankfully, Wolf found some novelty in the topic, but there are enough occasional detours into cliché (“Men only ever want sex” — comedy!) to weigh the sharper observations down. Fortunately, in this witty hour of zeitgeist-focused standup the good more than compensates for the ever so slightly tired.