Over the much needed Christmas Break I had the chance to read Amy Poehler’s new book, Yes Please. It was a wonderful read, and I would encourage any fan to read it (although, I will warn you that it mostly reflects on pre-Parks and Rec-Amy. However, there are two endearing chapters about the show that made me tear up and love the cast even more ). I have been a big fan of Amy since her days on SNL and probably watch Baby Mama at least twice a month. It was really cool to read her thoughts on making it to where she is now on Parks and Rec and how much hard work and un-glamorous aspects were a part of her journey. It made me never want to be a waitress and to always work towards goals instead of wishing for them to just happen. I think what I enjoyed most was the way that she wrote about her two boys. It is so easy to see that she is one of the most caring and thoughtful mothers, and that her kids are at the center of her crazy life.
This is not the first book I have read by a star of a TV comedy. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey was the first book of this rising canon that I got a hold of. I listened to the audio book that is read by Tina. I started it as I was driving in the rain to meet my boyfriend (now husband) at a McDonald’s one night. It was not a cheap date. He had forgotten his Complete Works of Plato at home when he left for Thanksgiving break, and desperately needed it for a final paper. We agreed that I would bring the book to him at a central location, which was at said McDonald’s off if the interstate.
As I hopped into the car, and safely pulled out of my muddy driveway, I began Tina’s book. I was not looking forward to the drive. I hate driving. Especially in the dark and in the rain. But as the journey progressed I actually felt like Tina was in the car with me, in the passenger seat, telling me her story and bashing gender stereotypes. I could have driven all night just listening to the rest of the book. I felt so in tune with Tina and her thoughts, and was high fiving a million angels of my choice to begin this audio book on this very stress inducing trip to a random Micky D’s.
The second book (and my favorite book of this genre) was Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I have already written a blog post about it, but I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. Actually, I still love it, and should probably read it again. I love Mindy’s style, her wit, and the way she simply ‘can’t’ sometimes. (Everyone should follow her on instagram because she is a fashion baller. I am obsessed with everything she wears and how confident she is in her fashion. She always radiates with pure awesomeness.)
Amy mentions these two books, Rachel Dratch’s book and Lena Dunham’s book as she outlines how stressful it is to write a book and how successful authors can never give good advice to someone in the midst of the horrible art of writing. I admire all of these women for what they do, their hard work, and the ways that they are paving the way for women to quit being asked “what is it like to be a woman in comedy?”
This leads me to my academic argument. I am also a fan of several feminist writers and topics, and must say that it is one of my favorite academic fields (even though it is not my own). In 2007 the first female president of Harvard, Drew Faust, said of her appointment to the position:
“I hope that my own appointment can be one symbol of an opening of opportunities that would have been inconceivable even a generation ago,” Faust said. But she also added, “I’m not the woman president of Harvard, I’m the president of Harvard.”
Feminist writer and scholar, Toril Moi, claims, “she should not have had to do this. No male president of Harvard has ever been placed in a situation where he had to deny that he was the male president of Harvard.” (check out Toril Moi’s website- http://www.torilmoi.com/ ). This is issue is directly related to these women of comedy. Through their books they are making the tacit statement that they do not have to qualify themselves as being a woman in comedy. They simply are, and they are dominating.
I believe that the emergence of this canon shows that American culture (and possibly other cultures? I feel like I should consider Canadian culture now too since I am living within it) has moved a step forward. Although this progressive step begins in the entertainment industry, I think it spills over into the greater population (like poor grad students who are not famous and just want to be a professor and make friends). The path has been made for women to continue doing excellent comedy, and to continue looking silly in front of the camera. In turn, women like me are inspired to look silly too, and we can walk the same (less paparazzi filled) path.
Of course, there should be homage paid to the one’s who came before Tina, Amy, Mindy, and other comedy staples (I see you Chelsea Peretti!). Thank you to Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and other ladies who have defied the pristine madonna/ dirty whore dichotomy that has occurred in almost all media types throughout history. This work and progress shows that women can have personality, flaws, beautiful toothy smiles, heckly laughs, and can show up anyone with great lip synching.
Although I do not consider myself to be a comedian by any means, I do consider humor and sarcasm to be a currency of mine (to use a term of Amy’s). I love making jokes and being slightly inappropriate at times. I believe that it makes the sun shine a little brighter (especially here in Canada), it makes the laugh lines on my face more endearing, and it makes poop worthy of a giggle (I mean, I DON’T POOP, because I am a woman… but I can talk about it right? See what I did there?). I am so glad that I am in the generation that gets to see new horizons for women in this field from a present and historical view point. Much like the words of John Adams, “I study politics and war, so that my sons may study mathematics and philosophy,” I believe that these women’s efforts have allowed for their daughters to be silly, and ultimately to be their own natural, beautiful, and crazy selves.
It may sound crazy that Tina’s Sarah Palin impression, Amy’s fake baby bump, Mindy’s over the top ‘lay-on-the-floor-and-sort-out-my-problems- reactions, Maya Rudolph’s Beyonce impression, or Chelsea’s parody of dirty male comedian routines, could actually make a difference in my life, but they have. And that is where I will end. Yes Please, and Thank you. (also check out this all girl video from snl. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/23/back-home-ballers-snl_n_6207486.html )
P.S. Have you noticed how much I am a fan of the parentheses in this blog past? Always filled with yummy goodness in between, like a reeces cup of grammar.