Funny Women

Reading Nicholson Baker, he comments in The Mezzanine way back in '88 that there are practically no women in comedies where they aren’t the straight man or foil for the men. We can all think of the likes of Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and so on as funny men, but apart from TV roles (maybe Tina Fey in 30 Rock but even she is upstaged comedically by the other actors and she writes the damn show; or maybe Sarah Silverman, but she hasn’t translated to the big screen as a comedienne), who in the past 10 years would you say is a regular funny woman on the big screen?

I just can’t think of one… are women just not usually funny? Or is it the 7:30AM hangover affecting my memory?

(as an aside, looking at the Yuma banner popping up below this window right now, who doesn’t like the word “spatchcocked”? fucking great invention the English language is)

Not sure about the US. I don’t really get Sarah Silverman; it just seems very self-denigrating, which a lot of female ‘humour’ tends to be. It’s an easy laugh and not very creative, sometimes. I also find her a bit racist, which seems to be a trend nowadays with ‘Oh, but we’re making fun of the racists…’ A white dancing around with black -up make-up on is still offensive and crap, even if she does do Jewish jokes too.

There was a debate in the British media recently where a female comedian ( idon’t really find her that funny, but I like her she’s warm, and clever and is a bit different from the usual ‘types’) pointed out that few women go on a talk show/quiz in Britain because they just get ripped apart and talked over by the male comedians, most of whom have a different, very combative, others-denigrating style (she’s older and can hold her own, to a certain extent). The men involved simply responded with; no, there aren’t many women because women aren’t funny.

It’s an interesting question about group psychology; I think certainly in Britain, comedy can be quite a laddish, testosterone/beer fuelled thing, where poking fun at certain groups has become preferable to the slightly older style of standing and telling funny anecdotes about personal experiences. It’s also a case of how much you can take; hecklers can be merciless and female comedians get a different kind of shit that’s very personal. My kid sister’s done it, and it’s pretty grim; I think that filters out a lot of women at the early stages of their career.

My view is … dunno. I hate listening to anecdotes about how useless my boyfriend is, and shoes, periods, etc, such as the older comedienne, i mentioned above, and I do like that male energy.

Film comedy is different again, I think. Some of the female roles around are awful; stupid sappy straight ‘guys’ for the juvenile stuff from Will Ferrell, etc. Even Katherine Heisig who stars in this stuff said in an interview that it was awful, sexist rubbish. At the end of the day, that’s down to what the cinema-going public want.

I doubt she’s known internationally, but there’s a Brit called Caroline Aherne that I like a lot.

Anna Faris is pretty popular in a lot of funny movies. I like Sarah Silverman too.

Not really thinking of quality here, everyone’s got their own tastes (or lack thereof), I’m looking at quantity. Are there ANY major female comedic film stars - and not just one who was good in one movie once (like Frances MacDormand in Burn After Reading, or Meryl Streep in Doubt)?

Only in the rom-com framework; Jennifer Aniston, et al. Any ideas about why this is, American flobbers?

Miss Cameron Diaz is a leading commedienne. How about Jaime Presley in My name is Earl? Whats the ugly betty girl called? And Julia Roberts. And Whoopi Goldberg. And the old American Jewish woman. Massive nose. Name escapes me. And Sandra Bullock. And Thingy from You Got Mail.
English funny women are Jennifer Suanders, Dawn French, Caroline Aherne. Ruth Jones.

Women dont really get the same headlines as men in Hollywood. Nicole Kidman had a crack at it, as did Cate Blanchette, but they just cant drive these things forward like a solid male actor can. But to be honest, how many A-list men are there? Pitt and Depp, but thats yer lot. Even Crowe and Clooney fell into shitdom.

I think Sarah Silvermann tries to be funny by acting a bit too much like a man…
[wikipedia]Iliza Shlesinger[/wikipedia] (who won the 2008 “[wikipedia]Last Comic Standing[/wikipedia]” Competition) is not bad. She’s hosting “The Weakly Show” on TheStream.TV:

I feel women who are comedians somehow loose a bit of their “female touch” (due to increased rudeness)… :laughing:
[wikipedia]Ellen DeGeneres[/wikipedia] is considered a comedian.
[wikipedia]Whoopi Goldberg[/wikipedia] is probably the best that appeared in movies.

I find Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz try too hard…

Last year in Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens wrote about why, in general, women aren’t as funny.

After a rebuttal by some funny women, he said the following.

For those that don’t have Youtube, he (more or less) says,

“The need to be funny is much less for women than men. Women don’t need to be funny to get laid; whereas, most men, if they can’t make a woman laugh, are never gonna get laid.”

He adds that of the most successful comediennes, most are male-like( he uses the words, “butch” and “dykes”) or Jewish.

You’ve got a point. My first thought was Elaine from Seinfeld, then I realized it’s been over 10 years since that series ended. You mentioned Tina Fey and I’d include that blonde with her on SNL and Baby Momma, someone mentioned Cameron Diaz and I’d agree. If you’re counting romantic comedy I guess you could toss Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock in the mix, though most of their movies make me want to vomit. Jamie Lee Curtis also did some comedy in her day. I guess you could count any of the girls from “Friends,” though I never thought that show was very funny. The “one time, at band camp” girl from American Pie has done some other comedy, and is reasonably funny on “How I Met Your Mother.” The girl from the “Scary Movie” series has managed to make a career out of doing dumb comedies.

It’s kind of sad, but the one really hilarious female comedian/movie star I thought of was Madeline Kahn. She’s long dead but her performances in “Blazing Saddles” and “What’s Up Doc” are funnier than anything I’ve seen recently.

It may just be that with women, there’s less of a line between actress and comedian. I mean, the men on your list are almost all pure comedians, where as the women are actresses who do some comedy.

See, that’s where I realized the OP don’t know his arse from his elbow. Frances MacDormand in one movie once? You sure don’t get out much, eh?

See, that’s where I realized the OP don’t know his arse from his elbow. Frances MacDormand in one movie once? You sure don’t get out much, eh?[/quote]

I think he meant she was only funny in one movie.

Borat might say “funny woman” is an oxymoron.

There are plenty of funny women in showbiz, but to the OP about why not many leading ladies in the big screen… I can only offer some opinions, not supported by fact, so please don’t lambaste me about my naïveté.

  1. Big screen movies are driven by insert favorite currency, pure and simple. Some Marketing geniuses (genii?) sometime somewhere concluded that funny leading ladies won’t fill seats like funny leading men.
  2. Funny leading ladies don’t “fit the narrative”. I’m stealing this from a video linked in another thread yesterday, where a pundit describes certain narratives that society has come to embrace. Anything counter to the narrative is not seen in positive light by the majority of folks.
  3. Fewer women pursue careers in mainstream comedy, and hence, fewer women than men eventually realize that dream.

MacDormand need only flip the hood of her parka and she gets laughs. She’s a FUNNY woman.

She never made me laugh even ONCE. Admittedly, that’s quite subjective…

TwoTongues, joined July 19, 2009. Ah! It all makes sense now… :s


Fucking newbies, go away!

Just kidding. Welcome to Forumosa, TwoTongues. :slight_smile:


See, that’s where I realized the OP don’t know his arse from his elbow. Frances MacDormand in one movie once? You sure don’t get out much, eh?[/quote]

I can’t tell my ass from my elbow because I’m shortsighted, it all looks hairy and stanky to me. But being anatomically confused doesn’t make me wrong. Saying an actress is funny in one movie once is not the same as >being< in one movie once. The fact is, none of these people are real yuckers, and the real funny ones in stand-up don’t seem to make it into heavy comedy movies.

Look, Cameron Diaz was funny in Something About Mary, but in general she’s not really a comedienne in the mold of Carrey, Williams, Eddie Murphy - someone who has comedic insights into life or is just funny and irreverent and perverted. I like the Madeline Kahn (Blazing Saddles), and Whoopie certainly qualifies (though the movies are seriously dated now). But MacDormand, Diaz, Uma in My Super Ex-Girlfriend - these are not really comediennes in the way the men are. And those comediennes who can do the stand up like the men, they don’t seem to make it to movies in a big way.

Roseanna Barr was funny for a time, but again, not big-screen. Maybe Renee Zelwegger? But not really a comedienne either.

I disagree with Hitchens (he’s kind of half-idiot anyway with his smug know-it-all attitude, which only works when you’re not obviously wrong half the time): some of the stand-up I’ve seen with women is brutal and hilarious (Margaret Cho and Sarah Silverman come to mind more recently), but no one’s translated them to the big screen.

The day we see Zelwegger doing the Ministry of Funny Walks Movie and Uma in the Nutty Professor 3, I’ll recant.

[wikipedia]Catherine O’Hara[/wikipedia] is hilarious, I think. I loved her in Best in Show. :smiley: