Comedian Michelle Wolf says it's "cowardly" for Trump to skip Correspondents' dinner

Comedian Michelle Wolf has grabbed the spotlight through her success in stand-up and her regular role on "The Daily Show." On Saturday night, she takes the stage at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

For the second year while in office, President Trump will not be in attendance. 

"Does that make it better for you as a comedian or harder for you that the president is not there? Would you rather the president be in the room?" CBS News' Jamie Wax asked Wolf.

"I like making fun of people to their face more than anything, like, more than behind their back," she said. "It's nicer to make fun of someone when they're there."

"I think it's cowardly not to go," she said. "I think it's-- the only other person that didn't go was Reagan when he was shot. And he called in."

At the end of the day, she said she wants people at the dinner to say, "Those were funny jokes."

"I'm not tryin' to ... make some sort of bigger point or anything. I just want people to be like, 'It was really funny," she said.

She added: "I'll be really happy when it's over. It's a homework assignment."

Wolf has created a fast-rising career for herself by being a standout stand-up. Whether it's talk show appearance slots at high-profile charity events, or her currently streaming HBO special "Nice Lady," Wolf has been consistently singled out for the quality of her comedic craftsmanship.
 
"I think it's important to have, like-- to feel like people are seeing, like, even if it's just five minutes, like, a little show. You know? Where you're just like, 'No, I did this for you.' It wasn't just a small collection of jokes. It was like, 'No, I made you a little thing. I made you a meal,'" Wolf said.

The current "meal" she's taking on is one of the toughest and most prestigious gigs in comedy: hosting Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner, joining a long list of respected comedians.
 
"The biggest thing everyone says, which you know as a stand-up going into it, is: it's a bad room. It's a big ballroom. There's circular tables, which is bad for comedy because some people aren't looking at you. It's during dinner, which is bad for comedy 'cause they're focused on eating or not eating or drinking," Wolf said.

As much as she seems like a natural comedian, humor wasn't always an obvious gift. On full display though was her determined and competitive nature.
 
"In college, I didn't wanna just get an A. I wanted to get the best grade in the class. 'Cause you know how, like, your grades are listed by, like, your Social Security number or whatever. I always wanted to be the top, like I always wanted the best grade. I mean, it's insanely competitive for no reason," Wolf said.
 
At first, that drive for the top landed her a job in the world of finance, not comedy.
 
"And then I very quickly was like, 'I hate this. This is not my thing at all,'" Wolf said. "And Bear Stearns collapsed, and then like a week later, I started my first improv class. And I just immediately loved it."

It didn't take long for Wolf's combination of talent and work ethic to catch the eye of two of today's most influential late-night shows, "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah."
 
"What did you learn from that kind of experience, out of the clubs, writing for someone else with a team?" Wax asked.

"Writing for someone else's voice is very hard. And it's a good skill to learn, and it helps you think from different perspectives," Wolf said. "Trevor taught me a lot about, like, performing, and like – 'cause he's – he's such a charismatic performer that I learned a lot of that from him. And I learned a lot from Seth about, like, just like joke writing and economy of words and, you know, just having like strong punch lines."
 
Wolf is poised herself to become one of only a handful of women breaking into late night when Netflix launches "The Break with Michelle Wolf" in late May.

"I'm not tryin' to, like, reinvent the wheel with this show. I'm just tryin' to get back to, like, having just a really funny show. I'm not going to talk about policy or, you know," Wolf said.

But for the moment, she remains focused on Saturday's event, with or without the presence of the traditional guest of honor.