Growing up (or not) with funny women
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Most of the funniest people I know are women.
Subsequently, the people I most admire are usually funny women.
I tuned into the 61st annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night and was relieved to see funny women in Hollywood are more prevalent than ever. My comedic idols – Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, to name a few – were on hand to give, and receive, Emmys for what I think makes the world go ’round: Laughter.
At least it powers my world.
Tina, Amy and Julia are continuing the legacies of Lucille Ball, Madeline Kahn and Gilda Radner. The latter trailblazing female comics showed the world that laughs weren’t just for men in suits.
Or comedians dressed in drag.
Growing up, I would watch “I Love Lucy” reruns with my mom. That chocolate factory episode can still make her laugh like she’s never seen it. I’d also stay up extra late to watch Saturday Night Live. Sometimes I didn’t get the jokes, but I knew they were funny.
Long live Baba Wawa.
My Aunt Patty – who always cracked me up and reminds me in a way of Gilda Radner – took me to see my first Mel Brooks movie, one of many that starred Madeline Kahn, at the theater. I wasn’t old enough to see “History of the World Part One,” still my all-time favorite movie. Patty must have known I had a mature sense of humor, even back then. She bought my ticket and the rest is history.
In high school I spent much of my free time with my best friend Misty attempting impressions. Michael Jackson in the “Bad” video was easy prey. I could kind of do the Kid ‘n’ Play dance. And when my permed hair was long enough and I threw on a ball cap backwards, I could do a pretty sweet Axel Rose. One of the funniest attempts we had as young comedians was to make a movie of shorts. This no-budget feature film starred Misty, our boyfriends, and me.
It’s not what you think, I promise.
Actually, the content was pretty G-rated for a bunch of high schoolers who typically thought anything related to sex was funny. The soundtrack was this old Disneyland record I had called, “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House.”
We filmed my boyfriend’s big black lab Hank playing in the front yard with the cat, set to tracks, “The Dogs” and “Your Pet Cat.” These were mostly sound effects involving dogs barking and cats fighting. This was in turn funny because the big black dog and the little white-and-grey cat were innocently wrestling.
Unfortunately you had to be there for that one.
The guys filmed us dressed as old ladies walking around Sears and the Liberty Bell flea market and the stares that ensued. It really was funny.
Again, you had to be there.
But my self-declared most successful role had to be as a not-quite-a-stripper. We had this old record, “The Stripper” by David Rose and his orchestra. If you heard it, you’d know it. I dressed in about five layers of clothing. Then as the record began to play, I started down the stairs. With all those layers and not enough minutes in the record, the clothes never quite came off, obviously. Unfortunately no one will ever know because our friend’s mom taped over our masterpiece for her soap opera.
I guess you had to be there.
April E. Clark hopes Lucille, Madeline and Gilda are with her in spirit at Friday night’s comedy show at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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