‘Daily Show’ writer finds humor on Twitter

April 12, 2017
BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 31: Comedian Michelle Wolf performs onstage during Vulture Festival Presents: Comedy Night at The Bell House on May 31, 2015 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New York Magazine)

The problem with Twitter, says Michelle Wolf, is that everyone thinks they are a comedian.

“It’s one thing to be funny in a tweet,” the 31-year-old comedian said. “It is another to be funny for an hour.”

Which is absolutely true. But Twitter has been pretty good to Wolf, who will be funny for somewhere between 140 characters and an hour during three sets at the Moontower Comedy Festival.

A few years back, Rolling Stone named the “Daily Show with Trevor Noah” writer, improviser and stand-up one of the 25 funniest people on Twitter.

Here is a recent sampling from her account @michelleisawolf (no changes have been made to spelling or capitalization):

* “They say steve bannon is on his last leg and surprisingly not from diabetes.”

* “‘Presidenting is hard’ -trump in a bath full of ham.”

* “Let’s make vacation less fun.” - hotels that put scales in the bathroom.

* Flight attendant asked if this couple was married and the guy said “NO WE’RE NOT” So the rest of their trip is “why’d you say it like that?”

* “All this time I thought Barry Manilow was a lesbian.”

* “Can you stare at the ocean like it’s your lover? Well then welcome to the cast of Big Little Lies.”

“I think there’s something about the immediate gratification,” Wolf says of the relationship between Twitter and comedians. “You learn an economy of words and you get to a point where you can do a setup and a punchline inside of 140 characters.” One also needs to be topical, which comes in handy when you are writing for a monologue.

Michelle Wolf began her career in the financial world and got the comedy bug after watching a live taping of “Saturday Night Live.” Contributed by Mindy Tucker Photo: American-Statesman Staff

“Twitter is a good medium to lean how to write jokes,” she adds. “It pushes you to write a better joke in that, on Twitter, the first joke about something has already happened. You need to think of the second joke and the third joke.”

Wolf is not a stand-up lifer — “I didn’t have any intention of even doing comedy,” she says. She grew up in Hershey, Penn., and, after college, worked at Bear Sterns in 2007. As it was going to pieces in March 2008, Wolf attended a live taping of “Saturday Night Live.” She got the bug.

“I Googled cast members” Wolf says, “and they started in improv for the most part.” So she started taking improv classes, did more time in finance, started doing stand-up in 2011, saved up enough to not work for a year around 2013 and landed a writing gig on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” in 2014, the same year she made her national TV stand-up debut on that show.

She was also a regular character performer there — her bit “Grown-Up Annie” is exactly what you think: Little Orphan Annie as party girl socialite: “Tuns out other orphans aren’t super psyched about the girl that inherits millions and gets to live in a mansion.”

These days, she balances a stand-up career with writing for the “Daily Show,” hitting the road on the weekends, working on her set and attending festivals such as Moontower. She created and starred in two new digital series, “Now Hiring” and “Used People,” for Comedy Central; the latter is being developed as a TV series.

“Writing for late night is really good for learning how to write when you don’t want to write,” Wolf says. “You have to produce every day. It’s also very good for refining the difference between your point of view and the host’s. Before stand-up, I’m not sure I even had a point of view.”