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Women Comedians and Body Politics

By Linda Mizejewski

Publication Year: 2014

Focusing on star writer/performer comedians—Kathy Griffin, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres—Pretty/Funny demonstrates that women’s comedy has become a prime site of feminism in the twenty-first century.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Many people helped me with Pretty/Funny and also made it a lot of fun to think about and write. Robyn Warhol and Kimberly Springer offered insightful readings of individual chapters and gave me excellent advice about revisions. Ann Kibbey and the...

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Introduction. Pretty/Funny Women and Comedy’s Body Politics: Funniness, Prettiness, and Feminism

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pp. 1-29

In 2007, eminent journalist Christopher Hitchens published a widely circulated Vanity Fair essay called “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” making the provocative argument that humor is more natural, pervasive, and highly developed in men than in women...

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1. Kathy Griffin and the Comedy of the D List

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pp. 30-58

Kathy Griffin often begins her stand-up performances by asking fans in the audience to identify themselves, but it’s a strategy that identifies Griffin herself as a performer with a queer twist on the dynamic of pretty versus funny. In a clip in the “Extras” on She’ll Cut a Bitch (2009), she makes her usual call for her gays. “Where are...

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2. Feminism, Postfeminism, Liz Lemonism: Picturing Tina Fey

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pp. 59-91

Tina Fey is the most cerebral of the women comics treated in this book, known for her wit as the acerbic anchorwoman on Saturday Night Live and for the sophisticated humor of her NBC sitcom 30 Rock, hailed by critics as a brilliant satire of network...

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3. Sarah Silverman: Bedwetting, Body Comedy, and “a Mouth Full of Blood Laughs”

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pp. 92-122

More than any other comic covered in this book, Sarah Silverman challenges the pretty versus funny dynamic at its very root—the cultural identification of women with their bodies. Silverman performs gross-out comedy that defies cherished ideals...

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4. Margaret Cho Is Beautiful: A Comedy of Manifesto

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pp. 123-154

In her 2009 performance film Margaret Cho: Beautiful, Cho tells the story of a radio-show host who asked her what she would do if she “woke up beautiful—blue-eyed, blonde, five foot eleven and one hundred pounds.” Her comic response is about the physical impossibility...

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5. “White People Are Looking at You!”: Wanda Sykes’s Black Looks

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pp. 155-189

In the last months of 2009 Wanda Sykes was “everywhere,” as one reporter put it: as a supporting character on The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006–2010), an occasional guest star on Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–2011), a cartoon voice on Nickelodeon’s...

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6. Ellen DeGeneres: Pretty Funny Butch as Girl Next Door

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pp. 190-220

This book began with the question of how popular culture has pictured women in comedy. The traditional placement divides them into the pretty ones, cast in perky romantic comedies, and the funny ones, the female comedians Hollywood has been reluctant...


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pp. 221-234


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pp. 235-250


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pp. 251-266

E-ISBN-13: 9780292756922
E-ISBN-10: 0292756925
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292756915
Print-ISBN-10: 0292756917

Page Count: 278
Illustrations: 15 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 878138044
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pretty/Funny

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women comedians -- United States.
  • Feminine beauty (Aesthetics) -- United States.
  • Racism -- United States.
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