On Wednesday, Fox held two panels featuring Funny Men and Funny Women from some of the best new comedies on television. The Funny Women line-up included Martha Plimpton, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, Lea Michelle, Jane Lynch and Alyson Hannigan, and was moderated by Jimmy Kimmel.
While the entire panel was an insightful and ongoing conversation centering around the actresses’ thoughts on comedy and the resurgence it’s gone through on network TV in the last year, there were several specific highlights. It shouldn’t be a surprise, of course, that everyone in the room laughed hard and often.
Jimmy Kimmel: There’s something actually I wonder about a lot and I’m not being specific, but oftentimes on sitcoms, a very attractive female, which you all are, is paired up with —
Julie Bowen: Fat guy. Hot chick. … But these shows — we’ve been lucky enough that, like Martha said, it’s not just the man’s journey and the woman standing there shaking her finger waiting for him to come back from his like fart fest with the guys. I mean, Jane is the fart fest with the guys.
That role is amazing. And Lea is like a force to be reckoned with. All of these women are having their own little story lines and their own little adventures and sometimes you’re sort of at the front of the pack in some episodes and sometimes you’re not, but that is a huge change from the old standard Jackie Gleason format.
Jimmy Kimmel: Jane, do you like being called a fart fest?
Jane Lynch: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I name them.
Julie Bowen: I mean that with love.
Question: At least half the women on the panel, Ms. Plimpton, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Hannigan, are the roles you’re best known for are not the girlfriend roles. They’re known for being pretty centrally whoever they are. Were you resistant to taking girlfriend roles and held out until you got these roles or is that just the way it’s worked out?
Jane Lynch: I was never seen as the girlfriend of anybody. So when I first started, I did a lot of roles originally written for men. I played the doctor or the counselor where my agent would say, “Do you see a women in this role?” And they would walk away thinking they’re geniuses. “Yes, I do.” I’ve done many roles that were originally — the role in 40-Year-Old Virgin was written for a man.
Question: Jane, are you and Ed O’Neill good now? Anything you want Sofia to pass on?
Jane Lynch: I love Ed and he said such lovely things about me. That was you guys and not us.
Sofia Vergara: But he prefers me.
Question: Alyson, would you like to take this opportunity to crap on the idea of a Buffy movie?
Alyson Hannigan: Well, a Buffy movie without Josh — Joss — I can’t do that now that I work with Josh — without Joss, I would crap on that. Yes. Because Joss was Buffy. That was it.
Question: Curious on your shows — I know GLEE, it’s mostly the three creators that do all the writing, but how many female writers and directors or producers that are around that are maybe influencing what’s going on in the room?
Alyson Hannigan: Well, on our show we have a lot of writers. We have 17 writers. Let me count. How many are women? At least seven of them. Maybe more. And it’s fantastic to — you know, I think each year we sort of get new women. And our show is very much every sort of situation, no matter how crazy it is, is based on somebody’s actual experience. So I’m all for having more women in there.
After the panel I spoke with Alyson, and mentioned to her that her How I Met Your Mother castmate, Cobie Smulders, was interested in pursuing a lesbian relationship on the show.
“Well we did have — she gave me a little kiss, when I was having a freak out about getting married and not having accomplished everything I wanted to do before that,” Alyson said. “So she gave me a little lesbian kiss. Now that [my character’s] married — maybe a dream sequence. That would be nice!”
Even though Alyson’s a married woman, she’s not playing the female bit part to on-screen husband Jason Segel.
“Lily has a voice and a personality, and that’s what I look for,” Alyson said. “I would not respond to a part that is just a superficial sort of being there and not having anything to do. That bores me and why use me if you’re going to do that? Get a model!”