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Reel Women: Beautiful Actresses Can Be Funny Too

Female Comedians
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Clearly, Deadline reporter Nikki Finke never received the memo that both humor and beauty are subjective, as she blogged this week that pretty actresses are incapable of being funny because they have no experience with “emotional pain and humiliation.” We, um, politely disagree.

According to Finke:

Listen up, Hollywood: Beautiful actresses are not funny. They don’t know how to do comedy … Only women who grew up ugly and stayed ugly, or through plastic surgery became beautiful, can pull off sitcoms or standups … Because it’s all about emotional pain and humiliation and rising above both by making people laugh with you instead of at you. So stop casting beautiful actresses when you should be giving ugly women a chance.

So what about Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Tig Notaro, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Silverman, Aubrey Plaza, and a litany of other actresses and comediennes who are both attractive and hilarious? Are we to assume they’ve never once experienced humiliation or a particularly emotionally scarring event? According to Finke, only people who we find unattractive have ever suffered any substantially upsetting moments. Pretty people are happy and normal and sane, and thus boring and unfunny and just getting in the way of all the uggos.

But the real issue here is subjectivity. Let’s set aside the fact that Finke clearly hates her own gender, here. Humor and beauty are the most subjective attributes in life — not everyone agrees on what is or isn’t funny or attractive, and not everyone can agree on why they feel the way they do about these things. Certainly, Hollywood contains a higher number of people whom we can universally agree are visually pleasing, but Finke seems to imply here that beauty is black and white. There is ugly and there is pretty in her view, but that’s the problem — it’s her opinion of what is attractive. She doesn’t speak for me or you or the thousands of people watching ‘30 Rock‘ every Thursday. Some people might not find Tina Fey particularly attractive, so if they think she’s funny, are they wrong?

Who are these ugly women of whom Nikki Finke speaks? Can she point them out and emotionally abuse them further than she assures they’ve already been by saying they’re funny? Apparently “funny” in Finke-speak is synonymous with “hag.” It’s obvious that Finke has some mental problems she may want to address with a therapist, and while I might agree that we need more diversity — and more women, and more diversity in women — in Hollywood, and I also might agree that some of the best humor comes from a dark place with which we can identify, I can’t bring myself to get behind this idea that pretty women aren’t funny and only ugly women can get laughs.

Furthermore, this idea that we should only be laughing with women and not at them is just silly — we can do both. When a funny woman trips and falls on her face or does something stupid and we laugh at her, it’s not an insult. It’s because she’s doing her job and she’s doing it well.

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