Thursday, April 13, 2017

Funny Girls

In our second episode, we decided to talk about one of our favorite forms: comedy. What makes people laugh and why is something of a mystery, but what's clear is that it's not an easy thing to do, by any stretch - and it's our belief that gifted comics deserve a lot more respect than they typically get, especially next to the "tragedians."

One of those serious, serious actors is Meryl Streep - dripping with Academy Award nominations, and winner of three Oscars. Nonetheless, when Stacey asked Eric who makes him laugh, Meryl was the first name he came up with. Meryl does a lot of comedy, up to and including her last nominated turn in Florence Foster Jenkins. But it was her performance in 1990's Postcards from the Edge (written by the ever-hilarious Carrie Fisher) that Eric called to mind first. Admittedly, this isn't the funniest scene in the film, but even when bringing up weighty issues like alcoholism and drug addiction, Carrie throws in a line about Lana Turner and Joan Crawford and you can't help but chuckle. And those are the moments you tend to remember.

When Eric asked Stacey the same question, her ready answer was Carol Burnett. The Carol Burnett Show debuted in 1967 and ran for more than a decade. The humor was often very broad -- most of us remember her riff on Scarlett O'Hara wearing a dress made out of curtains ... with the curtain rod still intact. But sometimes the humor was more subdued, almost absurdist in nature, such as this sketch, featuring the entire ensemble of the show, called "The Butler & the Maid." Hilarious, and also not without something important to say about class, entitlement, domestic violence, and funny stuff like that.

Later in the show, Eric named another one of his favorite funny people: Margaret Cho. Her best work, according to Eric, was the very first of her major stand-up tours, called I'm the One That I Want -- she covers a lot of ground in this show, including the role of women in the lives of gay men, her own bisexuality, addiction, and being a different kind of role model for Asian-Americans. But mostly, this show is about her experiences on the set of All-American Girl, the short-lived sitcom she starred in, how she was directed by the show runners to lose weight to play the part of herself, and how she made herself sick trying. None of that should be funny, and yet it is (also NSFW, just sayin').

Honestly, neither Stacey or Eric set out to exclude men from this list; in fact, they talk about any number of men that they find to be really funny during the show (hint: if you're near New York City, go see Kevin Kline in Present Laughter on Broadway this very minute).

And yet, it's interesting that the first names they thought of were women. It's possible that marginalized people tend to be better observers of themselves and everyone else than those who are in charge. Perhaps we expect women to be "nicer" than men, so when they veer into what's shocking, it's even more shocking ... and maybe a bit funnier.

Who are the women who make you laugh? Let us know in the comments here, talk to us on Facebook, send us a tweet, whatever. We'd love to hear from you. And, y'know ... subscribe (we have to say it; it's a rule).

No comments:

Post a Comment