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Wrapping Up Women in Comedy Week

This week was Women in Comedy week, in which we focused on the wonderful female contributions to the world of comedy over the years. It's been great! And before we get back to the 51 weeks of the year that I dedicate to Men in Comedy (Just kidding! Please don't throw me to the Jezebel commenters! I can't take it, I'm too weak!), I figured it'd be a fun to run through everything lady-centric that went up this week, just in case you missed anything.

Illustrated Comediennes of the Stand-Up Boom: Rita Rudner

In the rush of the 80s-90s stand-up boom, newly-emerging pay-cable began augmenting their normally scheduled soft-core pornography and repeated showing of horror movie Cat's Eye with stand-up showcases. Dyna Moe watched every one of them and presents a week-long tribute of the comediennes of era.

Rita Rudner is a petite, pretty brunette who delivered thoughts on men, family, and love with a measured, but spacey delivery staring somewhere ten feet above the audience's head.

The Fifth Marx Brother Was a Sister

Groucho Marx called her “practically the fifth Marx Brother” and she appeared in nearly 60 films in a career spanning four decades, but the name Margaret Dumont is relatively unknown in today’s pop culture. What a shame; she only essentially invented the “straight-woman” character, paving the way for Ann Perkins and Pam Beasley, among dozens of others, years later.

Margaret Dumont was born Daisy Juliette Baker in 1888. She first lived in Brooklyn, NY, but moved to Atlanta, GA as a child to live with her godfather, Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remis stories. As a teenager, she became an opera singer, then a stage [...]

Illustrated Comediennes of the Stand-Up Boom: Ellen DeGeneres

In the rush of the 80s-90s stand-up boom, newly-emerging pay-cable began augmenting their normally scheduled soft-core pornography and repeated showing of horror movie Cat's Eye with stand-up showcases. Dyna Moe watched every one of them and presents a week-long tribute of the comediennes of era.

You all know who Ellen DeGeneres is. I just want to draw attention to the fact that in her 1990 HBO One Night Stand she wore a Fido Dido t-shirt.

The Forgotten Brilliance of Popular

In 1999, I was a junior theatre major at a performing arts high school, in a class that was about 60% female and 30% gay boys. Though Will & Grace, Dawson’s Creek, and Sex and the City were all on air, the only show that was true appointment television at the Boston Arts Academy was a terribly-rated show buried in The WB’s Thursday night line up — Popular, a forgotten gem of female comedy.

Ten years before Glee, Ryan Murphy created Popular, a campy over-the-top comedy disguised as a typical teen drama. The show ostensibly revolved around two high school juniors: the beautiful and popular Brooke McQueen (played by [...]

No More Chick Flicks, Please

Say the phrase “chick flicks” and usually everyone around you, male or female, will roll their eyes. The prevailing notion is that “chick flicks” are fluffy, romantic, silly piles of goo that no one should ever consider high-quality cinema. The thing is, I can’t name a single comedy film starring primarily women that someone couldn’t dismiss as merely a “chick flick.” For instance, even though Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion is hilarious and boasts the talents of Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Kudrow and Justin Theroux, it’s somehow weird to call it a pure comedy. Because it’s about girls and because it’s about high school and because it has a [...]

Mrs. Show: The Women Behind a Comedy Classic

Anyone who took the “Mr. Show Boys Club” sketch at face value might be tempted to skype Gloria Steinem immediately after watching it. The scene opens with the male cast members lounging in silk robes and cravats, brandishing martinis. They’re surrounded by scantily clad young ladies who are identified as The Mr. Show Objects. Soon a female cast member emerges wearing sparkly short-shorts, a tank top that reads “OBJECT”, and a tiny barrel of brandy around her neck like a storybook St. Bernard. When she accuses the show’s two main stars of running a “boys club,” they respond in the most literal way possible, with footage revealing how Mr. [...]

Illustrated Comediennes of the Stand-Up Boom: Paula Poundstone

In the rush of the 80s-90s stand-up boom, newly-emerging pay-cable began augmenting their normally scheduled soft-core pornography and repeated showing of horror movie Cat's Eye with stand-up showcases. Dyna Moe watched every one of them and presents a week-long tribute of the comediennes of era.

Maybe better known today than in the '90s thanks to the Prairie-Home-Public-Radio-Industrial Complex, Paula Poundstone's signature style is a conversational mix of audience interaction and observations on mundanities of snack food, cats and television. Underlying the laid-back delivery is her performance posture of shifting between sitting, leaning and flopping around on a stool.

Why More Women Should Write Comedy: A Mathematical (But Not Boring) Study

The notion that women aren’t funny is as old as the people still bringing it up. These days in comedy, funny women are everywhere. And yet the men writing comedy still outnumber the women by a wide margin. So while the idea that women aren’t funny has been soundly defeated, a new question has taken its place — since we know women are funny, why aren’t there more female comedy writers?

My immediate reaction to this question is a residual, vague resentment, aimed at absolutely no one in particular. Someone, somewhere, is deciding women aren’t funny! This is an outrage! Show yourself, you amorphous oppressor! I want to know [...]

An Extended Interview with Former 'Colbert Report' Head Writer Allison Silverman

In And Here's the Kicker, Mike Sacks talked to some of the biggest names in comedy writing, including Dick Cavett, David Sedaris and Robert Smigel. Here is the complete and uncut version of his interview with former Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show and Colbert Report writer/producer Allison Silverman, with loads of new answers not found in the book.

It’s difficult to know just how seriously Allison Silverman takes herself, or her place, in the hierarchy of comedy-writing. Having spent time penning jokes for some of the best minds in satire — Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien — she’d be justified in some self-aggrandizement.

“Over [...]

Roseanne, Rhea, and the Rise of the Female Sitcom Star

Women have proven they could be funny since the beginning of television; there were female comedy stars on shows like SNL, Lilly Tomlin on Laugh In, Carol Burnett. But the sitcom was different — the mothers, girlfriend and secretaries were secondary characters. Women were never the comedic force on a sitcom. They never had the punchline, they were the punchline. But all that changed in the 1980s.

I was born in 1982, and 7 years later I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. While most girls my age wanted to be doctors, teachers and princesses, I wanted to work in a bar. I [...]

The Life of the Road Warrior with Nikki Glaser

The Road. It surfaces in every conversation about stand-up comedy. It’s concrete and tangible, but it’s also metaphorical and can take on an abstract, ethereal identity. To learn the craft of stand-up comedy and become a successful performer, the conventional wisdom is that comics must surrender to the road and figure things out.

I imagine young jesters in ancient Athens received the same advice when they asked how to go about performing for emperors: “Embark on the road my son,” said the white-haired, bearded guy in my imagination. “There, you will find that which you seek.” The road is a physical and spiritual journey.

For Women in Comedy week, [...]

How Rosie O'Donnell Taught Women to Take Risks

“Golf is not a sport. Golf is men in ugly pants, walking.”

If you were in my presence in Southern Indiana in the early 1990s, you might, incorrectly, attribute this quote to me, due to my constant need to repeat this joke, regardless of the time or place. However, the joke belongs to Rosie O'Donnell, a comedian I'd often watch on VH1's Stand Up Spotlight. I can't say why I loved that jokes so much. Surely, golf was not such a big part of my life that I felt it needed to be taken down a peg. Rather, I think my love for the joke was based in [...]

A Day in the Life of Julie Klausner, a Woman in Comedy

(Ghostwritten by Alex Scordelis, a man)

3 AM: My alarm goes off. Women in comedy have to be early risers! My alarm clock is a giant TV screen that plays this, the perfect sketch, to wake me up and inspire me.

3:30 AM: Commence the baking! I pop a batch of blueberry muffins in the oven, and then listen to the Louis CK episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.

4:25 AM: Ding! As soon as Louis CK starts crying about how beautiful it was when his children were born, I know my muffin crusts have turned a golden brown and are ready to be pulled from [...]