One of the most hot button issues in comedy right now is the lack of women writing for late night. Molly McNearney is the only woman who currently writes for Jimmy Kimmel Live, but she is also the co-head writer. Molly chatted with me about how she got her start in comedy, her favorite bits that she’s contributed to the show and what it’s like being a woman behind the scenes. She also revealed what a day backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live looks like and inspired me to declare that my new dream job is to be a “Clip Researcher.” READ MORE
Last Friday night, the WGA West brought together a bunch of funny ladies for yet another serious discussion on the issue of women in late night comedy. Nell Scovell, who has written for Vanity Fair about her experience writing for Late Night with David Letterman, moderated the panel that included former and current late night writers.
Unlike what happened at a similar panel of different women in late night writing last May, there was never any commentary about how the women were funny because they "wrote like men." However, there was discussion about the role that gender plays in the tone of the humor. Scovell pointed out that many of the jokes that the women on the panel had written had involved feminine influences such as Oprah, Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga and Sex and the City.
Everyone on the panel agreed there are certain comedic ideas that might appeal more to women than men that are no less funny, but merely come from a different mindset. The issue in late night writing is that it is the writer's job to write for a host, one who's usually male. Beth Sherman said there was a difference in writing for a voice like Leno or Letterman than for her current employer, Ellen Degeneres. However, she also conceded that Ellen’s comedic voice is closer to her own. Laurie Kilmartin (Conan) brought up a point that she has in the past about one of the differences she observes between male and female stand up comedians is that women get into it to express their own voices. When you write for late night, you have to sacrifice your own voice for the host’s. This was offered as a reason for why women don't go after the late night jobs as much as men do. READ MORE
Stand-up comic Jena Friedman is joining the writing staff of Late Show with David Letterman this week. This is exciting for two reasons. One, Friedman is a hilarious and smart up-and-coming comic. Two, her addition to the writing staff marks the first time in Late Show history that more than one woman has been on the staff. A lot has been written in the last year about the dearth of women on major late night show writing staffs, and one can only see the hiring of Friedman as another step in the right direction.
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 snappy 80’s soundtrack, it becomes a “chick flick.” Female comedies don’t deserve this short shrift from the comedy mainstream. They are not only funny, but they also inspire girls to want to be comedians. READ MORE