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Pretty/Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics with Linda Mizejewski
August 25, 2022 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Women’s comedy has long been a prime spot for women to talk back and break taboos in mainstream popular culture. But women in comedy have traditionally been pegged as either “pretty” or “funny.” Attractive actresses with good comic timing such as Katherine Hepburn and Lucille Ball have always gotten plum roles in romantic comedies and television sitcoms. In contrast, women who write and perform their own comedy have been far fewer as stars, and most often, they’ve been successful because they were willing to be funny-looking–Fanny Brice, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett—or have made femininity itself the butt of the laughter, as in the case of Mae West. This talk is an overview of women’s comedy beginning with West and ending with the new generation of women comedians such as Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres who flout the pretty-versus-funny dynamic, targeting glamour and in some cases making it clear that in popular culture, “pretty” almost always means “white.”