Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Burning Moms use humor to push for education changes in California - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee
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Saturday, June 27, 2009
I was watching an old episode of SNL the other day, one with Maya Rudolph playing Donatella Versace (a classic), and got to thinking about the gender and race of SNL performers. I did a little research.
Of the 35 seasons of SNL and 122 cast members, 31 have been women. And just a mere four have been female minorities. That's pathetic.
Why so few women? You don't seem to subscribe to the belief that women aren't funny. SNL has been home to many top female comedians of this time. Maybe you just don't know enough female comedians. For your sake, let me offer some suggestions.
My Comedian Wish List for SNL:
* Wanda Sykes - A sketch veteren with The Chris Rock Show; granted, she's about to have her own show, so you probably missed the boat.
* Kim Wayans - Wayans has 5 seasons of In Living Color under her belt.
* Christina Anthony - Second City: check.
* Frangela - It's a two for one and in these tough economic times, that's a comic deal! (Granted, they don't really do sketch, but they would be a welcome addition to the lineup. They would make great anchors for Weekend Update!)
* DSI Comedy grads - Bring a little southern charm to SNL! I can vouch for them, I've seen plenty of their shows and my funny bone was tickled without remorse.
*Garfunkel & Oates - Cooler than sliced bread, with an already large fan base. Large fan base means more viewers, which is really what you want, Lorne. (Oh yeah. I can speak "biz.")
These are just a few suggestions and I know I've left out a lot of people. If you need more women comedians, check out our list on the left-side column of the blog.
Basically, there's really no excuse for the dismal representation of hilarity of the female kind on SNL. You are missing out on a huge demographic and the endless possibilities of new sketches.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wisecrack: Have you always known you wanted to pursue a career in comedy? Can you name a specific instance in which life drove you to laughs?
Jen Dziura: You know, that's a funny question, because I'm not totally sure what I'm doing now is exactly about pursing a career in comedy. I've always felt as though there's a Venn Diagram at play -- there's comedy, and there's my Platonic ideal of being the best possible public version of myself, and there's some overlap in the middle that is my working space.
W: Is there an inherent relationship between good spelling and good comedy? How are the two connected?
JD: I'm not sure about spelling, but there's a strong correlation between irregular grammar and comedy. For instance, just take a basic joke form such as the "your mom" joke. Compare:
W: You seem to have a wide-ranging array of interests, from comedy to martial arts to nearly every facet of academia. Can you describe the process by which you brought all of these things together to formulate a bankable career?
W: What is your favorite word to spell, and why?
JD: For years, one of my favorite words was "apropos," because I learned that word as a young teenager from a translation of Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground" in which the book's second part is called "Apropos to the Wet Snow." Could that possibly have also rhymed in Russian?
W: Ten years from today, what is the life of Jennifer Dziura going to look like?
JD: Hopefully no chionablepsia, rhinorrhagia, kakistocracy, etc.
Read more from Jen in her McSweeney's pieces:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Guest Post by comedian Erin Judge
I don’t think most male comedians are sexist. I just think they don’t always know how to react to a woman who, like themselves, is trying to be funny. You know, on purpose. My pseudo-scientific faux-anthropological theories about it go a little something like this:
We discover our senses of humor around puberty. The development of sex organs and body hair and vocal fluctuations leaves us painfully exposed and uncomfortably aware of ourselves. But at least we can crack jokes about it, deflecting some of those casual humiliations. And we’re finally far enough along to understand adult references – not just sex jokes and drug jokes, but political humor as well.
The problem with all of this is that puberty is also an almost entirely homosocial time. Boys roll with boys and girls roll with girls. And being funny carries much more weight in male social circles than in female ones. Sure, adolescent girls like a good laugh, but they prefer manipulative Machiavellian back-stabbing triangulating evil drama. While cool girls consolidate their power by capriciously excluding, humiliating, and character-assassinating others, cool boys are the ones with the loudest and most hilariously-timed farts.
Around middle school, it always seems that girls are much more interested in boys than boys are interested in girls. But in truth – and I’ve only learned this as an adult – boys are so interested in girls that they’re borderline nauseated with terror and embarrassment over it. Everybody always talks about trivial changes in adolescent males, like voice cracking. But the horror that comprises boners and sex dreams and carnal impulses must not be understated. Pre-teen girls develop crushes on the cute boys and the funny boys and the polite boys for all these wholesome, socially accepted, public reasons. Meanwhile, (straight) pre-teen boys are having involuntary X-rated fantasies about these sweet young ladies, and, sadly, sometimes feeling pretty guilty about it. Until boys get a little bit older and feel more control over all that sex stuff, I think it’s just really damn hard for them to let their guard down around their female peers the way they do around other boys.
I remember being a different kind of girl back then, and I’m sure lots of other female comedians occupied the same strange place in the middle school social hierarchy. I preferred quoting Monty Python to scribbling rumors in slam books. The click of irony and the satisfying rush of cracking a joke thrilled me more than learning how to put on make-up. Maybe all female comics were as inept as I was at female social games back then, but as far as I can tell, we were just smart and uninterested in being particularly sweet or particularly mean. And holy crap, was life frustrating back then! Sure, I could get laughs here and there, but half the time the guys wouldn’t even hear my jokes and would wind up unconsciously repeating them as their own. The popular girls looked at me like I had three heads when they even acknowledged my existence at all.
Fast forward to the stand-up comedy scene circa today. Male comics tend to be the most successful funny dudes from middle school mixed with the comedy-obsessed nerdy guys. They’re the irreverent geniuses out of the gifted classes or the wisecrackingest (and smartest) kids among the troublemakers. On some level, male comics rely on the skills they acquired in middle school in order to do their jobs and make people laugh. And maybe there’s a teensy bit of regression going on, and maybe they revert to a state of wariness and confusion around females and supreme comfort around an all-male social group.
Female comics, meanwhile…well, let’s face it. We are still the overwhelming minority in any city’s scene. We have a harder time coming to comedy and a harder time sticking it out long enough to get good because we feel like outsiders and get treated differently. We’re still fighting the same adolescent-era battles to be heard and appreciated for our senses of humor by our male peers and by the community as a whole, now represented by the audience.
I used to work for a nationally-known comedian, and he asked me not to sit in on writing meetings because he found his male collaborators wouldn’t be as free and open if a female was present. Even now, when some of my (straight) male comic peers tease me, they backtrack or apologize. Worst of all, they can’t tell when I’m teasing them.
Guys, I know girls are confusing. But do me a favor. Respect us more by “respecting” us less. We’re not in the comedy business to get handled with kid gloves. We’re not wilting flowers who gasp and say “Well, I never!” Trust us. Listen to us. Make fun of us, and we’ll make fun of you, and we can laugh at each others’ jokes and give each other notes and write together and make everybody’s comedy stronger, more relevant, and just plain funnier.
Oh, and P.S. – If we like you, you’ll know. We’ll hit on you. That’s just the kind of girls we are.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Though Mabley's act may seem stereotypical to some, it was really quite a clever show business ploy. While attractive young women, particularly black women, could show little in the way of intelligence or sexuality without condemnation, "Moms" was safe—a laughable figure of fun. From behind the shabby clothes and mobile toothless grin, Mabley could offer sharp-witted insights and social commentary that would have been unacceptable from a more serious source. Beloved by African-American audiences, Mabley's whole persona was an "in" joke among blacks, and she did not hesitate to focus her scathing humor on whites and their ill treatment of other races. She also demonstrated glimmers of an early feminism with her jokes about old men and their illusions of authority. One of her trademark jokes was, "Ain't nothing an old man can do for me, but me a message from a young man."
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
It seems silly to ask, but here goes -- are women as funny as men?
"Yes," confirms stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito. "The difference is in exposure to comedy and gender norms."
In our society, she explained, women are exposed to less comedy (scan the crowd at the next comedy show you attend), they are instructed to be demure and they are often turned off by the entry-level opportunities to get into comedy -- open-mic nights.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In Samantha, Marietta created a character who would talk about women’s rights and women’s lives, particularly in rural districts where life was very hard. To defuse resistance to her radical ideas, Samantha had to be a woman who wasn’t a rabid suffragist. As a woman who could laugh at herself as well as her husband, Josiah Allen’s Wife was accepted as a moderate thinker by the reading public.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Will Arnett's Spring Breakdown is available today on DVD and Blu-ray.
Spring Breakdown was mentioned in Lauren's blog a while back. It's receiving mixed reviews, thus far. Anyone seen it, yet? I'm worried that if it's great, I'll be angry that it went straight to DVD and if it's so-so, that will be disappointing.
Obviously, I do want it to be great. And I want it to have been released already in theaters. And I would like a pony.
By the way- rated R?
For now, let me just say that this ad represents progress in Midol's advertising strategy. After all, this is a company that used the phrase (imperative?) "Reverse the Curse" to sell their ibuprofen.
I know this isn't exactly comedy-related, but perhaps it is funny in a terrible sort of way that our periods, a very normal, banal occurrence in the life of most women, have been conjured into unmanageable nuisances by advertisers.
And as Midol's very livelihood depends on the way they portray periods, it is no wonder that the company must evolve their advertising for the times, lest we all realize that midol is not any more special than my Walgreen's brand of pain killer.
I go into detail about that marketing campaign here. Please read on if interested:
It’s time to reverse the curse. No, Midol commercials, I don’t mean ending my period. I mean reversing the curse you have conjured up against periods.
Products marketed for women have long cashed in on exploiting women’s fears and insecurities about their bodies. Exaggerating the inconvenience of menstruation is yet another ploy churned out by the pantheon of myth-making advertising bullshit to scare up some dollars. In the meantime, however, talking about periods as though they curse women damages the ultimate feminist goal of achieving equality between men and women.
The whole article can be read here...