Comedians have a blunt way of describing peers who make audiences howl.
They “kill” on stage. No blood is shed, just peals of laughter echoing around the room.
It’s the highest compliment a stand-up can share, and it’s why Bill Burr used the phrase for his new Netflix special.
“Bill Burr Presents: Friends Who Kill” lets the “Paper Tiger” star tell a few jokes of his own before introducing his “killer” friends. That list includes Michelle Wolf, Jimmy Carr, Steph Tolev, Jeff Ross, Dave Attell, Ian Edwards, Joe Bartnick, Jessica Kirson, Dean Delray, Ronny Chieng and Josh Adam Meyers.
Ross and Attell are comedy institutions who don’t need a boost like this. The same is true for Wolf, who had her own Netflix talk show and made waves with her angry, uber-partisan gig at the 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner.
Wolf’s part of “Friends Who Kill” inadvertently gave us a lesson Woke Comedy 101.
The host of Netflix’ short-lived “The Break with Michelle Wolf” immediately went woke with her 10-minute set. She complained about how rare it is to find female leaders in the U.S., noting Vice President Kamala Harris as the exception that proved the political rule.
Rather than dig into Harris’ pathetic approval numbers or legendary gaffes, Wolf lectures the crowd about other nations that routinely have women in charge.
There’s an interesting cultural point here. It’s just not funny, at least not the way Wolf presents it. A better comic might bridge that gap, but the shrieky-voiced Wolf lacks those chops.
Wolf spends much of her allotted time mocking white women because, as she puts it, “it’s fun and easy.”
Woke on steroids. And, as a comic, “easy” jokes are the laziest to tell.
The comedienne notes the MeToo movement died of self-inflicted wounds, a set-up that could drill down into exactly why that took place.
Instead, she digs up one tiny morsel – some women like to be dominated in the bedroom by men. Not bad, but she’s ignoring so many truths in the process.
And that’s what Wolf’s set lacks. Truth.
The best satire has a kernel of truth to it. It’s why when “The Simpsons” mocked President Donald Trump for an alleged lack of stamina it hit a sour note. Trump is a deeply flawed soul, but for a 70-something adult he’s a bundle of energy.
Wolf strays from the truth over and again after the female leaders opening, leaving an act that doesn’t remotely “kill.”
Then again, woke comedy isn’t mean to make us laugh.