kitchen table


funny girl
September 26, 2006, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My friend Brendan lives and performs in New York with his long-form improv team Kid Dervin. He told me that the improv scene is pretty white and pretty male, and we got to talking about why that is.

Actually, we theorized.

My own take is that the less a comedienne is dedicated to looking cute, the more likely she’ll receive crossover appeal. Take, for instance, Amy Sedaris. Sedaris’ most well-known role is as Jerri Blank, a 40-something former hooker who has generous eye-bags and a wicked overbite. She’s so unattractive, it’s excrutiating. It’s funny. What’s more, Sedaris often opts for a themed photo shoot: Amy has a battered woman, Amy as an armless pin-up girl. I think she’s funny–and I think a lot of men find her funny–because her first priority is not looking good, it’s being funny.

Anyway, what do you think?

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4 Comments so far
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Often female comedians bore me, their humor just doesn’t tend to click with me for whatever reason. Sarah Silverman, however, is one of the few female comedians that I find laugh out loud, hilariously funny. I also think she’s very attractive. No, being attractive probably isn’t her first priority, but if any comedian’s primary focus were somewhere besides the jokes he/she would not be funny most likely.

Comment by John

Often female comedians bore me, their humor just doesn’t tend to click with me for whatever reason.

I wonder why that is, sincerely. Do you think that women who do amuse you have less female-centered material than women who bore you?

I actually thought of Sarah Silverman and her popularity. I haven’t seen much of her work–her bit in The Aristocrats sticks out–but she strikes me as something of a tomboy, of a woman guys like because she’s “one of the guys.”

I think your comment on her appearance though is interesting. Do you think male comedians spend more time on their appearance before a show then women? Probably not. They most likely get to work on their material and, as you said, make it their first priority. I think maybe women are forced to make a choice, either be funny or be cute but don’t count on being both. While I also find Amy Sedaris and Sarah Silverman attractive, I don’t think they fall into conventional categories of beauty.

Now I’m confusing myself though because I think I’m missing a piece here in my theory. It’s something about that double duty thing…

I’ll come back to it tomorrow, when I’m rested and fresh. In the mean time, if you can, tell me more.

Comment by whitney

I’ve about why I don’t like female comics myself. I tend to pick apart comedy pretty thoroughly and try to get at its inner workings. That said, I don’t have a real definitive answer of why I don’t tend to like female comics.

I guess I feel like many female comics tend to fall into the same trap that many gay male comics do. All of their jokes are about being women/gay. Yes, that’s a part of your identity, sure, make jokes about it, but it can overtake the act and make it too niche. If you’ve ever seen “Ant” do standup you’ll know what I mean.

George Carlin is one of my all-time favorite comics and I don’t know that he was ever attractive to anybody.

I highly recommend Sarah Silverman’s movie, “Jesus is Magic.” Fantastic standup.

Perhaps with female comics and appearance it’s a contingency plan. “If they don’t like my material, at least they can ogle me.” I don’t know that that is really at the expense of their material, but it probably comes into consideration.

Maria Bamford is another female comic who I appreciate. She also happens to be not too shabby looking.

I’ve had a tremendously long day and my neurons are just barely firing, so hopefully you can make some sense of all this.

Comment by John

Regina Barreca wrote an interesting fast-read treatise in the early 90’s called “They Used to Call Me Snow White, but I Drifted” on women and comedy. It talked about the notion of power in comedy, and the subversion of power, of what a woman is supposed to say to be funny (often self-deprecation).

Part of Sarah Silverman’s genius is the incongruity of her beauty and what she says. From a man, it would still be shocking, but for an attractive woman to say the same thing is

I know AmyS is admired for her Strangers with Candy work, but I found her performance piece of making herself up as a battered woman and walking into a 7-11 saying “I’m in love” to anyone in earshot a mindf***, and not a funny one.

Comment by kitchentable




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