Funny Girls

Whoever still wants to say women aren’t funny hasn’t seen Parks and Recreation, hasn’t watched 30 Rock, never read anything by Chelsea Lately and just plain hasn’t been paying attention.  The graduating class at Harvard got a taste of this goodness yesterday when Amy Poehler spoke at their Class Day.

Tina Fey writes about Poehler, comedy, and women’s roles in her amazing new book, Bossypants.  I am going to write a full review once I stop digesting how incredible it is… which may be never.  Until then, here are her thoughts on humor, and the claim that women aren’t funny [deal with the swears, it’s part of the point]:

“Amy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers’ room, waiting for the Wednesday read-through to start. There were always a lot of noisy “comedy bits” going on in that room. Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and “unladylike.”

Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.”

Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. Insert penis joke here.)

With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.

I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, “My friend is here! My friend is here!” Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.

I think of this whenever someone says to me, “Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny, or “Christopher Hitchens says women aren’t funny,” or “Rick Fenderman says women aren’t funny…Do you have anything to say to that?”

Yes. We don’t fucking care if you like it.

I don’t say it out loud of course, because Jerry Lewis is a great philanthropist. Hitchens is very sick, and the third guy I made up.

Unless one of these men is my boss, which none of them is, it’s irrelevant. My hat goes off to them. It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”

One thought on “Funny Girls

  1. NPR touched on this issue during All Things Considered” yesterday when they had the director and star of the movie Bridesmaids on. Women, women comedians in particular, tend to be held to different standards in tv and film, particularly with regard to humor that is bulgar or involves bodily functions. But most women comedians, or at least the true feminist ones, don’t see themselves specifically as women when performing. Maya Rudolph said in the interview that she doesn’t think of her “girly parts” when performing–she just goes.

    Anyway, this post was timely 🙂

    Here’s the link:

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