4 The Role of the Female Comic For female standup comics (pre-1970s) self-deprecation &/or degrees of de-sexualization was required. Of course, there were some exceptions & some cheats. Mae West is not a standup. (Insert Joke here.)
She Can Make Us Laugh! The Myth: “Women Aren’t Funny” Where Comedy Was Seen, “Ladies” were not Gendered expectations impact our subjectivity… Does the gender make it hard to see the funny? 5
Articulator of Culture & Mediator with... Modeled persona on grandmother, former slave. Played Old when young. Frumpy mismatched clothes, gravely voice, Southern dialect, elastic face. Content: old men jokes, sexual innuendo & life. Persona softened impact of astute social commentary. 7 A Touch of The Subversive & Negative Exemplar
30 Year Vet Overnight Success Born Loretta Mae Aiken, forced marriage at fifteen to a much older man (source of “old man” material) Ran away to vaudeville & 30 Years on the Chitlin Circuit (first female comic at the Apollo Theater in Harlem) before Chicago Playboy Club gig (1961). Post Playboy: played main rooms (in Vegas et al) & living rooms (via Ed Sullivan, Flip Wilson, The Tonight Show). 8 Go to the screening section for the lesson & watch: Moms Mabley Mix.
Moms: Three Kinds of Funny I thought he never would die... I shouldn't talk like that about him though. They say you shouldn't say nothing about the dead unless you can say something good. He dead. GOOD! There ain't nothin' an ol' man can do but bring me a message from a young one There ain’t nothing wrong with young people. Jus’ quit lyin’ to ‘em. Colored fellow down home died. Pulled up to the gate. St. Peter look at him, say, 'What do you want?' 'Hey man, you know me. I'm old Sam Jones.' He looked in his book. 'Sam Jones?' he say, 'no, no you ain't here, no Sam Jones.' He said, 'Oh, man, yes, I am. You know me. I'm the cat that married that white girl on the capitol steps of Jackson, Mississippi.' He said, 'How long ago has that been?' He said, 'About five minutes ago.' 9
Self Deprecating Ways Consciousness of your own shortcomings; Undervaluing yourself and your abilities; Disparaging yourself; Belittling yourself. Gendered Function In Humor? 11
Negative Exemplar ? Articulator of Culture? Both? 12 Go to the screening section for the lesson & watch: Phyllis Diller on Ed Sullivan Optimal screening (above) Available on Netflix 3 rd Career Debut at 37 Persona: The Zany & Not So Happy Housewife Her Schtick: Hair, Clothes, Cackle Content: Fang & Facelifts (Marriage, Body Images) Contesting Idealization
Queen of the One-Liners accompanied by a cackle & the wave of her cigarette holder I've been asked to say a couple of words about my husband, Fang. How about short and cheap? Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age - as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight. Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?. His finest hour lasted a minute and a half. Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going. It's a good thing that beauty is only skin deep, or I'd be rotten to the core. 13
Joan Rivers: Negative Exemplar? Yes and No. 14 Working onstage since late 50s Struggling in coffeehouses of Greenwich Village & the Clubs until Tonight Show gig Persona: Self Deprecating Plain Joan (& later) Catty Gossip The Go to Female Comic Until seen as “the competition.” Sharpening of features & tongue: Self Deprecation comes second to cutting critique…of everybody Go to the screening section & watch: Joan on Ed Sullivan; Optional Screening: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work on Netflix.
Joan Says, “Can We Talk?” My mother could make anybody feel guilty - she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know. I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them. A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp. It's been so long since I've had sex I've forgotten who ties up whom. Your anger can be 49 % and your comedy 51 %, and you're okay. If the anger is 51 %, the comedy is gone. There is not one female comic who was beautiful as a little girl. 15
Joan Rivers on Lopez Tonight Love & Respect from their Comic Progeny 16 Click here to Watch Joan on Lopez
Roseanne Lunches with Phyllis One on One Domestic Goddesses 17 Click here to Watch Roseanne Lunches…
18 Section 3 : Roseanne: The First of the Unruly Women
Negative Exemplar? Provocateur? Socio-Political Commentator? Articulator of Culture? Roseanne? Yes. 19 Domestic Goddess & 80s Myth of Class Kitchen to Comedy Clubs & Carson Tonight Show (1985); Roseanne (1987) Persona: Roseanne & Roseanne Connor Intertextual / Extratextual “Roseanne” Connection to Diller (not June Cleaver) Roseanne (1987-92) to Roseanne is Nuts (2011- ) Opposite of Self Deprecating…on TV What makes a Woman Unruly? Go to the screening section & watch: All Roseanne Standup Clips
I call myself a 'domestic goddess.’ As a housewife, I feel that if the kids are still alive when my husband gets home from work, then hey, I've done my job. Experts say you should never hit your children in anger. When is a good time? When you're feeling festive? So I'm fat, I thought I'd point that out. …It's okay to be fat. So you're fat. Just be fat and shut up about it. I consider myself to be a pretty good judge of people... that's why I don't like any of them. Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we'll take up, and the more we'll have to be reckoned with. 20
For Your Consideration Questions for Part 2 of “All The Funny Ladies” will also include references to Part 1. How does (and to what degree) the comic role of “negative exemplar” inform the personae of the two least similar of the comics in this lesson? Note: This thought question is optional. 21