Ed.: 043017 – Words: 781 – Audio: N/A
This subject is barely worth the words I am putting into this post. So, in spite of that… here we go anyway.
We’ve been hearing all over the media the “results” of the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. More to the point, comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at said dinner. Each year we typically hear the same old lament about how personally nasty the guest comic has been in their insults bestowed upon the more popular news and political personages.. generally the President himself being a focus.
As associations go, they are generally formed to represent the people who organized them; like-minded folks, usually members of the same or similar professions. Sometimes these groups manage over time to represent a “heart & soul” of a particular interest group; there’s a measure of socially accepted elite-ness. Some associations even set performance standards for their members, other’s provide professional certifications and establish themselves as industry icons. Most, if not all associations, have at least one “hoopla” meeting in a calendar year where speeches are made spouting the goodness in the achievements of the association over the year, celebrated members, living and deceased, are recognized, yearly awards are presented, and a general chest-thumping of the association’s importance in the greater world. The White House Correspondents Association is no exception.
According to Wiki, the dinner itself was primarily a “men’s club” get-together until 1962 when “lady reporter always in the first row”, Helen Thomas, managed to get Kennedy to not show up to the dinner unless women were allowed… in 1962. Over the years the event has drifted into more of a Hollywood glitz & glamor affair, with the centerpiece “entertainment” being a quasi-roast delivered by a guest comedian delivering the insults.
Here’s my observations for this year’s dinner…
First – The theme of this year’s dinner was celebrating freedom of speech. Everything leading up to the comic part of the dinner kept to the theme. The comic had absolutely NO content representing the theme at all… but… one could argue that delivering her content alone was a statement of the freedom of speech. Ok.. not my association. Do what you want.
Second – If the current tradition is to simulate the traditional comic routine of a “celebrity roast” (ala Dean Martin, the originator).. the roast subject being a combination of personal jabs at prominent association members, the President, and members of the President’s administration… even to the point of having the traditional Dias sitting at a long table on stage, then it seems you need more than one comic relief person. But.. not my association; do what you want.
Third – It seems the association might need to decide how it wants to be perceived by the TV viewing public. If these dinner events are going to become TV events like the Oscars then toss in more of what the viewers want to see. I realize that the current budget of the association is only in the $300,000 range, it’s not much to promote yourself. Given in recent years attendance at the dinners have been more about a “see and be seen” event, seems someone needs to provide some focus on exactly what the association wants to do once a year. But… not my association; do what you want.
Fourth – Some Boomers may recall “Mr. Warmth”… Don Rickles… the king of insults. There’s a subliminal undertone of measuring the insult gags themselves and their delivery against Rickles’ performance. In spite of the fact that no one living measures up to that standard, there have been some interesting and successful past performances. That brings us to Michelle Wolf’s performance at this year’s dinner. In a single word, content aside… she sucked big time. Besides me not knowing who the hell she was when she started her routine (no, I don’t live on Comedy Central) she just could not effectively deliver an insult. Hell, Cosby could have done 200% better from his jail cell.
The controversial content? I personally believe in the hands of the right comedian the content might’ve been received a bit better. I also think that if a “roast” theme is what the association wants at it’s yearly dinner then have more than one roaster… and they should be members poking fun at themselves and the people they report on each day. Most surely, the President’s Press Secretary should have a few “words” to his/her press adversaries. There’s a real strategy to present insults that can be funny in proper context.
Now… if people.. the public in general.. are offended by what this comic said… then they should feel the same outrage toward Trump, right?
But… not my association; do what you want.
It’s been 781 words too much. ‘Nuff said.