Comedy Central
By Jennifer Calfas
May 1, 2018

Late night hosts defended Michelle Wolf Monday night as she faced backlash for her controversial performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner over the weekend.

Wolf, best known for her past gigs on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Late Night with Seth Meyers, received both criticism and praise for her routine at the annual dinner in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, where she jabbed the Trump Administration, Democrats, Republicans and the media.

Following her performance, the White House Correspondents Association, which organizes the annual gathering, said Wolf’s routine “was not in the spirit” of the dinner’s mission. Critics took particular issue with Wolf’s jokes about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who she compared to a villain from The Handmaid’s Tale and joked her “smoky eye” was made with lies.

But Wolf has a host of high-profile, late night comedians on her side. Indeed, her former colleagues Noah and Meyers, as well as Late Show host Stephen Colbert rushed to her defense.

Here’s how each late night host responded.

Trevor Noah points to Trump’s comments on women

Noah praised his former colleague by pointing out what he believed were absurdities in her critics’ logic. Showing clips of Fox news anchors taking offense to Wolf’s jokes, Noah mocked the level of their response.

“Why didn’t someone stop that woman?” Noah joked. “Michelle roasted these people so far that they wanted police protection.”

Noah also showed clips of President Donald Trump making derogatory comments about women – both as a reality TV host and on the campaign trail.

“When Trump’s insulting women, he says ‘fat, ugly face,’” Noah said. “None of that smart comedy with layers of meaning. Just insults.”

Seth Meyers: Wolf is ‘filthy’ and ‘mean’

Meyers, who also worked with Wolf on his show, defended the comedian – particularly in light of the president’s criticism of her. In a tweet after the event, which Trump did not attend, the President called Wolf “filthy” and referred to Meyers’ own performance in 2011 at the same dinner “weak.”

“Michelle Wolf doesn’t need anyone to defend her, but she is our friend. So just know when you call her filthy, you are right. She is filthy and she is mean, which is what we love about her. Because those are wonderful qualities for comedians and terrible qualities for free-world leaders.”

Meyers also called out the head of the White House Correspondents’ Association who initially lauded Wolf’s “truth-to-power” style of comedy, but later said her performance was not in the “spirit” of the event.

“You hired her,” Meyers said. “That’s like a parent sending an email saying yesterday’s birthday was meant to celebrate Kevin turning six years old. Unfortunately, the stripper’s dance routine was not in the spirit of the party.”

Stephen Colbert to Wolf’s critics: ‘Grow a pair’

“Look, you didn’t like it. You have that right. Don’t invite her back again,” Colbert said, speaking to the White House Correspondents’ Association, during his Monday night program. “But grow a pair.”

“This was a roast, and you’re ones who hired Michelle Wolf,” he added. “Being mad at her for doing her job is like accusing the valet of briefly stealing her car.”

Like Meyers, Colbert spoke from experience. Colbert hosted the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner as his Colbert Report conservative alter-ego during the George W. Bush administration. Back then, critics took issue with Colbert’s performance, with some saying he “bombed.”

Colbert reprised that popular character on his Monday night show to jokingly criticize Wolf himself.

“First, Michelle, let’s address your potty mouth. What the f–k was up with that,” Colbert said as his alter-ego. “This is the Correspondents’ Dinner, celebrating the freedom of speech. You can’t just say whatever you want.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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