Turk and J.D, Vaughn and Wilson, Fry and Laurie; the ‘Bromance’ has far become a staple diet of comedy, be it in Hollywood, on the box, or on the stage. Men have dominated the comedy circuit for what seems like an eternity. Women have been the butt of the jokes, stamped out of the scene with no recognition but a patronising pat on the back and sympathy chuckle… Until now!
That’s right; the dawn of female comedy is here! There’s a whole lady-army of writers, actors, and (I’m going to say it) comediennes breaking onto our screens. And yes, whilst separating comedy into the two sub-genres of ‘male’ and ‘female’ can be seen as harmful to our equality cause, it can’t be denied that some jokes just don’t appeal to the opposite sex (I’m looking at you Mr ‘Anchorman’). We are told to simply ‘sit back, and take a joke’ by a long-trailing cast of male dominated movies, or by the likes of ‘ditzy’ stereotypes filling in the gap of female humour.
So, what happens when the joke’s on them? The recent upsurge in female comedy is set on destroying the gender roles. Gone are the days of ‘Sex and the City’! The Womance generation are built of more. Literally. Not only are the new stream of female protagonists seen to have respectfully more substance and intelligence bestowed upon their portrayals, but they are physically respected as women. Untouched or airbrushed.
‘The Heat’, starring Sandra Bullock as a precociously intelligent FBI agent and Melissa Mcarthy as the best bad cop in town, has the body (and the brains) of a real woman’s comedy. It’s female presence is strong, independent, and feisty. It’s funny bone is no size zero. It’s all very non-Hollywood. In terms of attitude and appearance, there appears to have been a loosening of the red-carpet boundaries. But what does this mean? Does this announce a rejection of unhealthy habits of perfection and vanity? Or is it simply because female comedy is not considered ‘serious’ enough for the regular rules?
Recent blockbuster hit of ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011) proves that being ‘serious’ is not the case. Battling against the release of awaited male-comedy sequel ‘The Hangover: Part 2’, it’s box office revenue proved it more than victorious. Grossing a total of $288,383,523 (it’s competitor earning more than $33 million less) that’s some serious comedy.
But what exactly makes The Heat and Bridesmaids such successes? The answer is one common ingredient (Aside from Melissa Macarthy that is). I am, of course, speaking of the ‘Womance’. It’s a powerful tool. Rarely seen before. Or, at least, not on the silver screen. French and Saunders were of course claiming an overwhelming following at their sensational use of a female double act back in the nineties. Now that Hollywood has claimed it as its own, the ‘Womance’ has become a regular tool of cinema.
Yet, it is not only the lady-love breaking onto the silver screen. ‘Easy A’ was the refreshing spin on teen comedy that gave us quick-wit and a clever female protagonist in Emma Stone. It’s more realistic slant on high-school living (excluding the John Cusack references, Phoebe sleeping with students, and prancing around in corsets) aided its comical appeal. Prejudice, prancing around your room all weekend, and pretending to be what you’re not; all part of growing up. It’s relatable, in Hollywood’s over-exagerrated manner.
Hitting headlines most recently is the up-and-coming UK release of “Hollywood’s first female sex comedy!” ‘The To-Do List’ hails to be the pre-university film we’ve all been waiting for, the female ‘American Pie’ if you will. Except, instead of desperate pubescent boys, our female protagonist is an over-acheiving valedictorian bowing to the peer-pressure our society puts on female promiscuity. Casting Aubrey Plaza as the ‘to-doer’, the film is certain to have you in stitches.
As the Hollywood ball-busting continues to hand us the ability to break unhealthy tradition, we continue to utilise it throughout the entertainment realms. Whilst it is still a rarity to find more than the occasional female comedian amidst the panel-show seats, some are claiming a show of their own. Here in the UK, Miranda Hart has stolen the heart of a nation by rejuvenating the art of classic British comedy, whilst the likes of comedian Sarah Millican storms the stages of ‘Live at the Apollo’ and entertains to her own audience weekly on the BBC. Across the waters, comedy has birthed great writers in the shape of Lena Dunham, Kirsten Wiig, and Tina Fey, their successes only proving that there is a ravenous appetite for female comedians. For now, the entertainment world is obliging. But not without spelling out the female-factor.
Personally, I pine over the day a female comedy breakthrough does not have to make headlines! It shouldn’t be shocking for presenters such as David Letterman to make the bold decision to add a woman to his writing team. Nor should it be uncommon to line a panel-show with more than one comedienne.
Alas! The consumerist nature and throwaway attitude of the entertainment world must have us question the Womance Era’s survival. Whether Hollywood is out to buck the trend, or blend it in lightly with a touch up of foundation, remains to be seen. But, there are something’s cover-up will never hide; be it as a stand up artist, an actor, or as a writer, us girls have proven that we can get the giggles.