Saturday, March 8, 2008

Who's A Funny Girl?

Last night we saw Lisa Lampanelli, the hilarious stand-up comic from Connecticut, the self-titled "Queen of Mean", the riotously offensive insult comic. She might not be your cup of tea (if you're the uptight brunette sitting ahead of us), but she's exactly what I love. Imagine, if you can, a more reprehensible Sarah Silverman, a female Michael Richards without the willful fits of rage, a Rodney Dangerfield for the 21st Century. She wears 50s-inspired A-line dresses, and spouts off on anyone with a "disability" - the gays, the Blacks, the hearing impaired. She's out of control!

Between AIDS jokes and below-the-belt (literally) jabs at the token Asian, I wiped my tears and caught my breath, wondering how she gets away with it? If Cosmo Kramer and Don Imus are raked over the coals, how can this hyper-aggressive, cuss-addicted modern-day white supremacist get away with the N-word, the C-word, molestation quips, and the occasional blitz against Mexicans? And, unlike the cellphone-video evidence against Richards, Lampanelli releases high-quality DVDs that pull no punches. I ask you, how do funny women like Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, and Lisa Lampanelli get past the censors and the right-wing pundits? Is it the dresses? Is it the vagina? The cleavage? And where are they putting women, in terms of feminism? Is this the new feminism? Have they taken back the chauvinism and the degrading image once avoided entirely, turned it on its head and used it to their advantage? Well, sure.

The new issue of Vanity Fair (Who Says Women Aren't Funny? April 2008) explores these ideas and the new wave of hilarious female comedians. We're experiencing a renaissance of the Carol Burnett-style funny ladies (Tina Fey, Amy's Poehler and Sedaris, as well as the aforementioned), those who write and perform their own material. In the 90s it was all Jennifer Anistons and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss's, those who are admittedly funny, but played no part in the writing room. Since Tina Fey became the first female head-writer on SNL, something has changed. Where once men wrote sketch comedy, asking women to characterize themselves in ways not particularly authentic, now women pen their own scenes, bringing that sense of truth, however off-colour, edgy or questionable.

This is a series of half-baked thoughts, so grab the new Vanity Fair, if not for the article, for the fantastic photos taken by my personal photographic hero, Annie Lebovitz.

For funny ladies, we’re attractive. But when you open us up to real, professional attractive people — I do not want to run with those horses.” - Amy Poehler, Vanity Fair

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