Vanity Fair will be devoting their January 2013 issue to comedy and those who practice it best, a first for the magazine. While I support this idea wholeheartedly, there are a few kinks with the issue we need to discuss, because this is the Internet, and we can. First off: Vanity Fair teamed with 60 Minutes to create a poll about things that make us laugh, and like most polls penned by 60 Minutes, the results are weird. The main one we need to bitch about is this: 60% of those polled believe men are funnier than women.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did you say something? I couldn’t hear, because I was busy repeatedly slamming my head into a wall and wondering why the hell we’re still asking this question. I mean, if you want us to get over that Christopher Hitchen’s editorial years ago (I never will), we as a society need to just stop. asking. this. question. Yes, I in fact do think women are uproariously funny, and it does bother me that 54% of the women polled for this question apparently think that men are funnier than they are. But I also think a whole lot of dudes are funny. And why did Vanity Fair separate the polling answers to male/female responses, anyway? It only fuels the notion that the difference between the sexes is eternal and all-important, that it somehow matters to the world if dudes think Seinfeld is funnier than Friends and vice versa. I grew up on Seinfeld, and I bet your ass tons of men still watch and laugh at Friends re-runs on TBS. We’re all funny, and we all like to laugh! Anyone with a brain knows that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are ruling the comedy world right now alongside all their (also funny) bros, so who the hell cares!
Note: Imagine me saying all that with a curse inserted between every other word, and you’ll get a truer sense of how fed up I am with this question.
But polls, at their core, are usually meaningless and meant to rile, so I told myself to get over it. Then they came out with the three different covers that will grace newsstands nationwide starting on December 11. Now, I understand there are a lot of funny people in the world right now, and it’s hard to fit all of them onto three covers, as Judd Apatow, editor for the issue, lamented. (One last thing about the poll: 64% had no idea who Judd Apatow was. Who are these people?) They do get props for having Amy Poehler front and center in the first cover, and for showing other wonderful ladies who deserve to be there, such as Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy. Although it’s also important to note that Melissa McCarthy is literally dressed as a clown, shoved into the background behind the scantily clad Leslie Mann, furthering the stereotype that skinny funny women can be sexy and edgy, while larger funny women are, well, clowns.
Also, since this is a Best of Comedy in the ‘90s issue, other cover slots are taken up by Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ben Stiller. Wait, this isn’t a Best of the ‘90s issue? Nevermind, I don’t get it then.
Other things I don’t get: finishing out our line of cover ladies is Megan Fox. Huh? Now, I must admit that I haven’t seen the majority of things Megan Fox has been in; I did hear she was hilarious in Diablo Cody’s Jennifer’s Body, and she does have a role in Judd Apatow’s newest, This Is 40. (Which I’m sure, along with her looks, had nothing to do with her being on the cover.) But to me, a comedian isn’t just someone who can play funny roles in movies; that’s acting and direction and writing. A pure funny lady is, well, funny, on screen and off. And when I think of funny ladies, I think of a whole lot of people, but Megan Fox is never one of them.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the really, really funny ladies who should have been on the cover instead. I decided to stick with 20 because it’s a good number, but I agonized over the 20 and know it’s a very incomplete list. I also tried to stick to women I thought were particularly relevant in 2012. (My apologies in advance to Janeane Garofalo.)
I should also note that I honestly didn’t try to make this a super lesbian list; it just turns out that a lot of the funniest women today happen to be lesbians. Just putting that out there, world. You decide what to make of it.
20. Sarah Silverman
I’m only including her at the bottom of my list because her name IS included on the cover, which is something, but I want to see her face, darnit! Sarah Silverman is the most outrageously honest human being on the planet, to extraordinarily odd degrees. Nothing she says is fake; it is often gross and sometimes offensive, but it is unapologetically her, and it always, always makes me laugh. For one tiny example, this weekend she tweeted about her itchy asshole. And I loved it.
19. Funny Women of YouTube: Hannah Hart; Garfunkel & Oates
If this Vanity Fair issue really wanted to document comedy in the year 2012, I really, really hope they mentioned YouTube, as it has become a remarkable springboard for young comedians to create huge, loyal fanbases. Hannah Hart has created a veritable career out of cooking shit when she’s drunk! Think about how awesome that is for a second! And if you haven’t heard a Garfunkel & Oates tune this year, you are sorely missing out. In fact, Garfunkel & Oates have landed themselves an HBO series, to air soon. And they’re only a handful of the smart women doing funny things on the interwebs and being mad successful at it.
18. Mindy Kaling
After Mindy Kaling’s huge successes with The Office and her bestseller, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, news of her own TV series this fall was met with enthusiasm from all funny lady fans across the nation. And while The Mindy Project has definitely been met with disappointment by many, the fact is, it’s still the first mainstream show with an Indian American woman at its front, and a charmingly funny one at that, and Kaling deserves serious props for making that happen.