Humor in Hollywood: Women Are Changing the Game

As the Golden Globes showed us now that awards season is underway, it is notable that female-driven comedies on the silver screen and TV are conspicuously outstanding. Hollywood mainstays like Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie & Grandma), Meryl Streep (Ricky and the Flash) Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (Veep) brought their A-game, simultaneously ushering in the newcomers like Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) and Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) who allow us to laugh at ourselves by laughing at them.


”Trainwreck”Image: Universal Studios


This is new. Yes, we’ve always had our Lucille Balls and Joan Rivers–it’s not as if we’ve never allowed women to make us laugh. But with only a few standout exceptions, we typically have marginalized female humor, barring characters from being the lead and making sure they were always self-effacing, and never, ever sexy. In fact, for a number of years, the female comedy path was forged by lesbians like Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Paula Poundstone. It’s as if our culture would permit women to be funny, as long as long as they weren’t too traditionally feminine .

These days, not only do we now have a greater number of funny women as leading stars on our screens, they are bold, sexy and their approach has changed; more than just making us giggle, they are forcing women—and men—to push invisible cultural boundaries: Sarah Silverman confronts religion and politics; Amy Schumer is a feminist cultural critic; Kristen Wiig gives us girls the delicious permission to be weird.

And that’s powerful. Because where humor goes, culture follows. Humor pokes a stick into the murky corners of our minds. Humor reveals repressed material that “good girls” are taught to hold in, like gas.


”Spy”Image:20th Century Fox


It is unclear when it happened, or why, but Hollywood has a flatulence problem. Funny women have started to take over our hearts, our minds, and have even pried open our designer wallets.

So when Trainwreck grosses more than $100 million domestically, and Spy rakes in more than $235 million worldwide, it means that we’re finally responding to women as leads opening films while being appealing while being funny, dirty, badass, and even overweight. They’re our new goddesses and we want them to be our BFFs .

In July of last year, Michael Eisner, ex-CEO of Disney said “the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman”. The comment attracted fodder and scorn, for obvious reasons, but perhaps it tells us more about him than current audiences. Like beauty, humor is subjective, so yes, perhaps there aren’t too many Angelina Jolie-looking women delivering knee-slapping jokes. But when we broaden our parameters–just a tad–and let beauty be in the eyes of millions of movie-ticket holders and TV watchers, Michael Eisner couldn’t be more wrong.

Written by Kim Do and Jessica Porter of Kim Do is the Chief Editor of The Makeup Blogger and Jessica Porter is the author of The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics and The MILF Diet.




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