Skip to content

Which Lady Is Saving Comedy Now?

Welcome, reader! As you well know, we have entered the era of Women In Comedy. Oh, sure! You could argue that women were always in comedy! Some scientists have traced evidence of these “comediennes” as far back as 1997. But this summer, what with the Bridesmaidsplosion, it seems eminently clear that ladies are (a) making some hot, hot comedy, and (b) going to save comedy… FROM ITSELF!

Which is nice. Actually, it really is! Given the overwhelming dudeliness of the genre in recent years, I think it is downright pleasant to see ladies pooping all over everything and being terrible at their lives. I said that was what I wanted from Judd Apatow, and damn it, he gave me that very thing! So: No regrets, no hard feelings. HOWEVER, now that the Women are Saving Comedy and all, I think it’s important that we pay close attention to each individual candidate on the field. For, lest we repeat the terrible Munn Wars of ’10, all women are now obliged to support all Women In Comedy uncritically. Yes, that’s right: Every. Single. One.

Which brings us to our latest savior! Her name is Whitney Cummings, and she is very concerned that you don’t think her sitcom is edgy. Because look at the edginess of this sitcom!

[IN WHICH, LACKING A TRANSCRIPT, WE INFORM YOU: Whitney is "A Little Different!" She is insufficiently dressed up for the wedding! "She's Opinionated!" Her dress is the wrong color for the wedding, oh no! She and her long-term boyfriend are not having enough sex! She eats cupcakes! Sexy nurse outfit! Sexy nurse CATASTROPHE! "See The World Whitney's Way!" It looks a lot like a sitcom!]

The very edgy sitcom of Whitney Cummings, you see, comes with what sounds suspiciously like a laugh track. It’s not a laugh track, Whitney Cummings would like to somewhat defensively inform you! It is real people, laughing at the comedy of Whitney Cummings! Which will cover the following topics:

It’s basically my stand up in the form of a narrative show, so if you like my stand up, you’ll love the show. All we do is talk about sex and vaginas and vejazzling about how the Kardashians are sluts…  its much edgier than the shows without an audience.

Yes, prepare yourself: On this show, a grown adult human will discuss the fact that she participates in SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Such a thing may sound inconceivable, but it is all too true! But wait, did you hear that she also has… NEGATIVE OPINIONS ABOUT WIDELY DISLIKED CELEBRITIES???? Welcome to the edge!

And, given that this show will be a sitcom enactment of the very edgy comedy of Whitney Cummings, perhaps we would all appreciate a primer in the other edgy comedic insights she has for us:

[IN WHICH, LACKING A TRANSCRIPT, WE INFORM YOU: Men are "obsessed" with "sports!" They frequently wear jerseys for teams they are "not even on!" Also: They use sports metaphors? Women, on the contrary, enjoy such things as "Chanel purses," and "Grey's Anatomy." Different tastes and interests: That is women and men, for sure!]

Yes, contrary to everything society teaches us to believe, Whitney Cummings is here to inform us that men behave one way, and women often believe in an entirely different way! This is a very exciting and valuable insight, which no male comic has ever thought to share with the world. Can you TASTE THE EDGE??? Because you are on it, I assure you! I don’t know. Maybe you should lick it or something.

Anyway. What else is going to be on your show, Whitney Cummings?

Me and my gals are buying sex toys, so. That’s happening.

Oh, how nice! I sure am glad that Women are Saving Comedy. And anyway, for those who cannot handle the sheer, raw edge of Whitney Cummings, NBC will also be bringing us a sitcom created by and starring Chelsea Handler, so…

Oh. Oh, God. It’s going to be a tough year.

26 Comments

  1. Mike wrote:

    So, it’s the gendered version of “you ever notice how black people dial a phone like this, but white people dial like this?” COMEDY.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  2. Travis wrote:

    Maybe “Help Wanted” will be good? Woman helps people transition between jobs? Little bit of economic woe? Little bit of class struggle?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Amz wrote:

    Maybe the world has ended, and we have descended into Hell without even realizing it?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Lu wrote:

    ~weep~ I also see that there is going to be a show about the Playboy Club, set in the 1960s, on broadcast television this fall. I suppose this is an answer to “Mad Men.” Of course they had to pick a milieu in which the potential for exploiting women sexually can be maximized while operating under the disclaimer, “It’s just history!”

    Also, Whitney Cummings, even the smallest Chanel purse costs thousands of dollars. Do you want to rethink your joke that “women” in general like Chanel bags?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
  5. Ennu wrote:

    At this point, I just reflexively dislike any person who describes themselves or what they say or do as “edgy.” Any time you hear that word you know stupidness and douchebaggery are sure to follow.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  6. Carol the Long Winde wrote:

    So does she work for Chanel? Because why else would you wear someone else’s name on you?

    This is dreadful. Please please bring back Roseanne or some offshoot.

    The worst of it is when she and Chelsea are cancelled post-haste, it will because “Dames ain’t funny.”

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  7. MM wrote:

    “So does she work for Chanel? Because why else would you wear someone else’s name on you?”

    Uh…

    “[IN WHICH, LACKING A TRANSCRIPT, WE INFORM YOU: Men are "obsessed" with "sports!" They frequently wear jerseys for teams they are "not even on!"]“

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  8. sybil wrote:

    The scene with the hammer was funny…but that’s about it.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  9. Satchel wrote:

    What Ennu said, exactly.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  10. Paula wrote:

    The “trying to be sexy and someone gets hurt” thing is oh so edgy. I’m pretty sure that every sitcom since the beginning of television has used that. Ick.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  11. Jeremy wrote:

    It does look like this is shaping up to be a storm of women in (terrible) comedy. I second Carol’s nostalgia for Roseanne. I’m still not sure where I stand on Two Broke Girls ( http://www.cbs.com/primetime/2_broke_girls/video/ ), though. Whitney Cummings is executive producer, so maybe we can expect more EDGINESS (ha). Will it be yet another shitty sitcom, possibly further enforcing terrible gender roles? Probably. But will it feature Kat Dennings being quirky and adorable? Also probably.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  12. MikeV wrote:

    Barrrrrrrrrrrrrf. The nurse outfit scene could have been funny with the form-filling out and overall excessive attention to detail but she WAY overacts.

    I did enjoy Bridesmaids, though.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  13. SKM wrote:

    Oh dear, a series about the Playboy Club?

    I saw a very short ad for an upcoming ABC series called Pan Am (like the defunct airline)–also cashing in on the Mad Men trend. Nope, no chance of sexism, objectification, or stereotyping there!

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  14. David Jacaré wrote:

    <3 <3 <3

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink
  15. Ali wrote:

    You know, I think everyone here is being a little mean and judgy to be honest. I think Whitney Cummings is hilarious and smart, actually. I refer to one of her jokes in the women’s self defense classes that I teach. I guess I don’t see the point, in general, of attacking female comedians who are out there doing it against all odds. There are MANY male comedians I think we could be attacking as a much better use of our time, if we need to be critical consumers of comedy. I think this kind of thinking puts an unfair amount of pressure on female comedians to be all things to all feminists. They get enough crap from men who say women aren’t funny. Personally, I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon. Even if I don’t personally love a female comedian’s style or content, I’m happy for them and I don’t think my taste in comedy should speak for all women or all feminists. And for those of you referencing Roseanne, did you READ her recent article about how difficult it is for women to say what they actually want to say, uncensored, in comedy on TV? You try it, and then you can have the credibility to talk shit.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  16. Lu wrote:

    Yes, SKM! I had heard about the Pan Am show, and when the promo came on for the Playboy Club thing I forgot about it; I guess I didn’t really there were going to be two “retro” blatant misogy-fests on network TV. It’s really disheartening.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  17. Lu wrote:

    sorry, meant to say “guess I didn’t realize.”

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  18. Caitlin wrote:

    @Ali:

    “I guess I don’t see the point, in general, of attacking female comedians who are out there doing it against all odds.”

    Because comedians like Whitney Cummings are held up as evidence that gender equality has been achieved in the entertainment industry. In reality, she’s trotting out the same tired old jokes about the differences between men and women and we the audience are meant to accept the assertion that this is somehow new and edgy when in reality it’s the exact same crap that’s been clogging the airwaves of every major network for the last thirty years. Whitney Cummings isn’t cracking the proverbial glass ceiling of comedy; she’s just repackaging gendered humor.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  19. Chantelle wrote:

    @Ali

    Women don’t get a free pass from serving us up warmed-over sexist stereotpying just because they’re women.

    Should we not Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher for their bullshit because they’re in an arena that is traditionally dominated by men? I think not. How does becoming patriarchy’s foot soldier undermine the entire system?

    Of course, in true Twisty-style, IBTP [I blame the patriarchy].

    Friday, May 27, 2011 at 3:35 am | Permalink
  20. Mercutia wrote:

    If they’re going to heave wads of cash and creative control at someone, how come they can’t give them to Maria Bamford?

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink
  21. Marisa wrote:

    I’m with Ali. Even as the show’s star/creator, Whitney Cummings certainly doesn’t have total creative control. If Maria Bamford landed an NBC sitcom (not her web show) there is a high chance it would go through the studio machine and end up pretty bad. I wish TV was for everyone how LOUIE is for Louis CK, but it doesn’t–especially for women (I second Ali on, “Didn’t you read Roseanne’s article?”). You may not like Cumming’s humor, and I definitely hate “lady in a comedy=gender equality” trend pieces, but working your way up as a comedian is tough. Requires a ton of hard work, which Cummings seems to have put in (I recommend her episode of WTF with Marc Maron). We don’t have to “view all women comedians uncritically,” but why mock her? What does this accomplish?

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  22. Trix wrote:

    @Marisa: it seems very much as if Sady were mocking her “humour”, not HER. Sure, working your way up as a comedian may well be tough, and she most probably has done a lot of work. But that still doesn’t mean we can’t say that the work we see here is rubbish.

    Talking about not having 100% creative control might be valid if this were one instance cherry-picked out of a mostly-decent boy of work. But this doesn’t seem to be a solitary instance of “battle of the sexes” tripe. So, you know, there seems to be plenty of room for valid critique.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  23. Joel Reinstein wrote:

    @Ali/Marisa:

    Sure, it’s easier to for the likes of Whitney Cummings to do sexist garbage comedy. It’s harder for women to have creative control. But I mean, that’s kind of the point. It’s easier to go along with the patriarchy. It’s easier to have someone take care of you, not have to make decisions for yourself, etc.

    I mean, if it’s a choice between toeing the unoriginal, soul-crushing, sexist line of formulaic comedy vs. not having a career at all – maybe you’d have an argument. Maybe women can play by the rules until they have a career and some influence, and then use that to make something creative and different? I’m always skeptical about that using-the-master’s-tools stuff.

    I feel a little silly talking about creating alternative institutions with comedy – but look at the post we’re commenting on. fucking hilarious. and there’s youtube, memes, etc. Or you can just make like Roseanne and break the rules on TV. It’s harder to make a career out of it, and emotionally damaging in Roseanne’s case, but that’s the point.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  24. Marisa wrote:

    I agree that it would be cool if Cummings was doing some radical stuff on NBC. TV does provide a much fuller platform for women comedians than film, and there are great, game-changing ladies working in TV today. And, as a lady comedy writer and feminist, I feel totally un-silly talking about creating alternative institutions within comedy. I just don’t get taking down Cummings with such vitriol for not being a feminist when she never said “I am here to be a feminist presence.” I know Sady also talks about anti-feminist men and stories on other sitcoms here, too, but I always feel like ‘feminist internet’ has a special vitriol for women comedians who aren’t the radical feminist goddesses we envision. I don’t know what the answer is, but sticking it to Whitney Cummings and the like doesn’t feel like the answer to me.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  25. Joel Reinstein wrote:

    I don’t know if it’s that she *isn’t a feminist* so much as this stuff:

    “Yes, contrary to everything society teaches us to believe, Whitney Cummings is here to inform us that men behave one way, and women often believe in an entirely different way!”

    “[Cummings:] All we do is talk about sex and vaginas and vejazzling about how the Kardashians are sluts…”

    and as commenter Lu put it: “Also, Whitney Cummings, even the smallest Chanel purse costs thousands of dollars. Do you want to rethink your joke that ‘women’ in general like Chanel bags?”

    the patriarchy is pretty well-embedded in what’s “normal.” even if you don’t go out of your way to be a misogynist, even if you’re just doing your thing and not worrying about misogyny or feminism, it’s there. it sounds crazy unfair: “you have to be a feminist or else you’re a chauvinist,” but that’s the reality imho. same goes for men of course.

    I mean if you think we’d be better served mocking male comedians, let’s talk about Norm McDonald or Daniel Tosh of Tosh.bro. They’ve got that I’m-a-douchebag-and-I’m-proud-of-it thing going on.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  26. josh k-sky wrote:

    One interesting data point: The Playboy Club pilot features a subplot about a married couple working at the Club who are actually a closeted gay and lesbian pair and who secretly participate in Mattachine Society meetings on their nights off.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink