Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Funny Girls

I brought a lot of books down to Ocean City with me for this last little stretch of vacation.  Most of them are some of the more serious books I've been meaning to read for a while.  To balance those out, I also brought along two books of comedy essays that I bought on a whim while on a Barnes and Noble binge.  Of course, I plowed through both of these books right away, finishing both in the first few days of the trip.  It turns out I have some stuff to say about the developing careers of female comedy writers.

The first of the two books was Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.  Those who know me beyond the blog have probably heard a few of my choice words for Zooey Deschanel.  While my hatred for Zooey Deschanel (and all Manic Pixie Dreamgirls) has mellowed a bit, I find it very refreshing to have Mindy Kaling become so successful in the past few years.  She is the anti-Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.  While the Zooey Deschanels of the world act like they're stuck in adolescence, passing off incompetence for cute, awkward nerdiness, Mindy Kaling proves that you can be feminine and still be an adult.  She doesn't feign modesty about her intelligence or her rise to fame.  She can joke about her body image without being exhaustingly self-deprecating.  She owns it.  And she is funny, without feeling the need to entertain the debate about whether women can be funny.  

Next, I read Alida Nugent's book Don't Worry, It Gets Worse.  Alida authors the Frenemy, a blog that reminds me of the good ol' livejournal days.  She doesn't post recipes or tips for home-making and very rarely posts pictures of herself (when she does, they are purposefully unflattering), which is kind of refreshing in a reality-check kind of way, after browsing unattainable fashion/lifestyle blogs like Cupcakes and Cashmere or The Sartorialist.  The tagline for this book kind of makes me cringe, and there are a lot of things about it that make me want to roll my eyes -- another young woman writing about her food and relationship issues, her inability to find a "real job," white collar problems aplenty.  It's nothing revolutionary.  But she says things that I think all the time and wish I could articulate.  She says them in a way that makes me feel and also makes me laugh.  She's sarcastic, but also really honest.  I'm happy I bought her book because I'm glad to help support her career.  

So, let's talk about funny women.  Like Mindy Kaling, I'm not going to dignify the "women aren't funny" argument with a response.  What I will say is that ever since Tina Fey and Amy Poehler opened up the comedy prospects for our generation, more hilarious women have been popping up and taking the spotlight.  Aside from Kaling and Nugent, I also can't get enough of Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick.  One of the things that's so great about these women is that they also aren't getting famous by being sexy or playing the uptight, nagging wife character.  They're talented and that's enough.


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