Panties Are Not a Punchline, Honey, Just Shut Up and Bring the Funny

I've been thinking about what it is to be a funny, female writer who  gives it all away in these pages as though hostessing some budget-friendly girlie show in the sky. The way I figure it, a humor blogger  should really shoot for adorable, self-styled glamour-puss over bitter little misanthrope when welcoming a crowd gathering for a laugh. Not that any of that happens much here. Stop me when I'm overreaching.

"The definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to sleep with her anymore," Tina Fey tells us.

In that case I'm in a pretty good position, as positions go, since I mostly write quietly and for my own amusement. Then again, there's only so much navel-gazing you can do and hope to become as relevant as say, Leah Dunham's anus. However ass-backwards, maybe the rest of her only got into the game because self-deprecating humor was her birthright as a direct descendent of Manhattan's post-feminist gliteratti. There's a crowd that kept right on gabbing long after the sexy came and went.

Back in the day, a midwest housewife named Phyllis Diller was actually too hot for this job, and only came up with the whole crazy chicken look to take your mind off wanting to nail her. Joan Rivers felt Johnny Carson both brought her up and took her down as though she'd belonged to him on both ends, like a disposable early wife. To check the strength of current ties between comic appeal and sex appeal, count up all the comediennes -- from Kathy Griffin to Molly Shannon, Sarah Silverman and even Sandra Bernhard -- whose underwear you can describe in some detail. Now try this with the guys -- until you get to a single goofball who looks any good in it.

In life as in comedy, most girls will do what it takes to draw an audience, and the truth is we don't care how you got here as long as you pay for your own drinks and stay awake for the show.

At my level, even bothering to read my work earns you the right to rip into it at leisure. My mother told me that my brother didn't care for an online novella I wrote about a sexually adventurous former panty model who goes to work for L.A.P.D. Hollywood Division. To me this is the perfect comic set up, but he found it inappropriate for children, of which he has three, apparently comprising the remainder of my readership. The whole brood gathers around the family laptop in the evening to read Auntie's uncensored internet musings. And I'm inappropriate? Seriously, get an X-Box and some boundaries.

Mom herself dismissed my brief foray into smut writing with a snort. "You're better than that," she announced. Really? Who knew? I figure in the absence of any monetary recognition (or really any other kind) in this digital cabaret of mine, I am entitled to some authenticity of voice. As I tell the students in my on-again off-again film professor gig, there's all kinds of talent in this town, but nobody brings you but you.

Though there are many schools of thought as to whether comedy can be learned, I see my whole life as a sketch in search of its rightful pay-off. "I think if you have a comic perspective, almost anything that happens you tend to put through a comic filter, " Woody Allen told The Paris Review in an interview on the art of comedy. "People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing. If you can do it, it’s not hard at all."

While you'd expect a few choice pearls of "hisdom" from the guy behind the loopy, self-doubting humor of Annie Hall, his comic perspective is remarkably free of gender bias:
It would be like if I said to somebody who can draw very well, My God, I could take a pencil and paper all day long and never be able to draw that horse. I can’t do it, and you’ve done it so perfectly. And the other person feels, This is nothing. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. That’s how you feel about comedy—if you can do it, you know, it’s really nothing.
"Is he still shtupping his daughter?" Mom inquired, as if that were right on point with today's topic. I saw him in a Q&A a few years back and told her this hadn't come up. But the two them have been married awhile now, so I doubt it. See, now that's funny.