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Sep 26 2014

Thinking Outside the Shortlist for Women in Comedy

Margarethere with a guessing game for you: a studio comedy is in production,and the lead is a woman.Who gets cast?If you're a Hollywood executive,the answer is Tina Fey,Melissa McCarthy,Kristen Wiig or Jennifer Aniston. Looking at today's top-grossing movies,you'd be forgiven for thinking that there are only four comic leading ladies;the studio focus on bankability keeps them sticking to a pretty rigid shortlist.

Actress Wendi McLendon-Covey,known best for her work in Bridesmaidsand Reno 911!,thinks that shortlist should be a little longer.Earlier this week she took to a guest column at Laughspinto stump for her favorite comic actresses,and pitch a host of new projects.
I am in no way saying that the women on the funny-lady short lists aren't funny;they absolutely are!This is just a gentle reminder that there are other bankable comediennes out there,and that creative casting pays off,( Orange is the New Black,anyone?) because it can oftentimes elevate so-so material.Casting is like dessert: no one really knows what they want until you roll the cart by and show it to them.

Orange Is the New Black's cast of unknowns spun comedy gold.It can happen again.

McLendon-Covey's suggestions include: casting thatall-femaleGhostbustersrebootwith Carrie Brownstein,Michaela Watkins,and Regina Hall;bringing together Laurie Metcalf,Jane Lynch,and Shondrella Avery as state college professors competing for the same research grant; pairing Gabourey Sidibe and Edi Patterson as proprietors of a marijuana dispensary / cat sanctuary who are looking for love;and putting Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski together as process servers who go around breaking hearts.

(Personally,I would love a movie where Kate McKinnon,Danielle Brooks,Christine Baranski,and Casey Wilson all have a bottomless mimosa brunch with me.Selfish?Probably.)

McLendon-Covey may be spitballing,but her point is clear: we may have gotten Hollywood to stop asking the monstrously tedious question "Are Women Funny?",but it still needs a kick in the pants to get past the idea that only a handful of women can be funny at a time.
Would you want to Kickstart any of these projects?Which funny ladies would be in your dream cast?

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Reader Comments (15)

I saw We're the Millers last weekend at home and felt in love with Kathryn Hahn's performance.So I would pick her,Rachel Dratch,Ana Gasteyer,Susie Essman and also the veterans and always marvelous Mary Kay Place,Celia Weston and Caroline Aaron.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I would love a world where Kate McKinnon is in every movie.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Peggy Sue: MARY KAY PLACE!Is she the best or what?No one ever talks about it but I think her little bit in Being John Malkovich is one of the movie's secret weapons.It's kind of a tired gag,but everything that comes out of her mouth is gold."Maybe you could alphabetize me."

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Yes to casting Laurie Metcalf in anything and everything (ok,except maybe that "Scream"sequel - that wasn't so great).I still haven't seen her new HBO show but after her glorious run on "Roseanne"I will watch her in anything.The episode where Roseanne and Jackie's father died was such a classic,fantastic piece of comedy writing and acting it set the bar so high I can barely be entertained by current sitcoms at all.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Reunite the women ofReno 911!in something completely different: Kerri Kenney-Silver,Wendi McLendon-Covey herself and Niecy Nash.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

YES YES YES to Laurie Metcalf and Jane Lynch together--in anything!We need to have Catherine O'Hara,Andrea Martin,Lisa Kudrow,Kelly Bishop,Jessica Walter,Julie Bowen and Cybill Shepherd in all comedies now.How about a big-screen teaming of Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton,who've NEVER worked together--can you imagine?And I believe we've only just tapped the comic genius of Eden Sher--that Emmy snub ouched.

And Wendy McLendon-Covey herself is pretty damn hilarious...more more MORE.She had one of my favorite lines from Bridesmaids: "I cracked a blanket in half."

September 26,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Anna Faris needs to get away from her sitcom and have the quality vehicle her comedic timing deserves.The way she can make something even a little bit funny is a gift that has sadly been underutilized.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterF

Gabourey Sidibe in a cat sanctuary?I'm down,no matter the genre.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Ooops,forgot Christina Applegate--comic genius.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I also would add Anne Heche to that list,who can be as charming and funny sparring as she can be compelling and dramatic.

September 26,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Rachael Harris!(When given opportunities beyond shrew wife/ girlfriend).Her work in Fat Actress,Natural Selection & For Your Consideration was inspired.I also find Courteney Cox hillarious - Cougar Town showcases some great funny ladies.Can someone please pair Annette Bening & Patricia Clarkson in a comedy?

September 27,2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

I broke into a great big smile when I started reading this post - Wendi McLendon-Covey is absolutely correct,we need to see a wider number of actresses and comedians.There are so many good suggestions above,(Ana Gasteyer,Kelly Bishop,Annette Benning,Patricia Clarkson) but let's not forget Laura Benanti and Sutton Foster.

I think there is such a profusion of talent and we get little glimpses of it on talk shows & award shows - (for example Wendi Mclendon-Covey was hilarious as a guest on Fashion Police) but it's never enough.I do wish someone would find a way to revive the variety show just so we could get more on TV,until then podcasts such as The Nerdist sometimes give us a little hint of what we are missing.

September 27,2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Lauren Weedman!

September 27,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'm so happy she included black actresses in her suggestion.Get it,Wendi.

September 27,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I wanna roll around in this amazing post.So many talented comedic actresses ripe for the picking.

Maybe Tina Fey doesn't need to star in any of them but WHEN is that woman gonna start writing some hilarious movie scripts to surely employ some of these jewels?Lady,I know you got some unearthed comedy gold in you still!

October 1,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

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