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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Comedy Central"

Better late than never, I finally have a bit of time to devote to answering last week's TITMT. And what was the question? Well to refresh your memory, just see below! I wanted to know, by way of Dawn, who your favorite comedians and comediennes were of all time and why.

As some of you politely pointed out, there is a distinction that needs to be made between favorite stand up comics and favorite comics that have added their talents to different programs or improvisation. Sometimes a rare gem comes along who manages to do all these things well. It's harder, in my mind, to find really funny women though. Regardless, if they make me laugh, whoever they are and however they do it, they are aces in my book.

So without further adieu, I bring you my very own gender specific list, in no particular order...

The Girls

1. Ellen Degeneres- Ellen is definitely my favorite female comic. She writes, she acts, she dances at the drop of a hat. Not only as she done it all for years, she even manages to do it all and keep it clean in the process. I was so happy when someone real finally had success with a daytime talk show, too.

2. Kathy Griffin- Kathy Griffin is the opposite of Ellen in terms of niceness and keeping it clean, but that doesn't mean the devil in me doesn't sometimes agree with what she says. Her successful show on Bravo, My Life On the D List, is supposed to capture the life of a D level celebrity. The longer she's around however, the less the caption applies.

3. Janeane Garofalo- There was a time when Janeane Garofalo seemed to be everywhere. In fact, I can still remember the first time I saw her stand up. It was pre Reality Bites days and as a pre teen, I was in awe of how different she was and identified with her immediately. She had a very distinct delivery and stance, and she did this all while donning a baby doll dress (remember when those were popular?) over leggings. Hooking in to the Ben Stiller crew, Garofalo did a short, misspent stint on SNL. Dubbed the "thinking man's sex symbol" she even managed to star in a few romantic comedies like The Matchmaker and The Truth About Cats And Dogs. But seemingly a few years ago, she took herself out of the limelight slowly but surely. Even when she was around, she spent more time speaking about serious issues seriously than serious issues in a sarcastic way. The rumor is she has a few new projects coming out though. I hope so anyway.

4. Kristen Wiig- Ok, so maybe it is a tad premature to add Kristen Wiig to a best of list, but like I said, finding women who are funny is easier said than done. So let's just say Kristen is the inclusion on the list with the most potential. The only thing I really know her from is SNL where she's been a cast member since 2005. Although the show as a whole, sucks, Kristen, her skits and her dead on impressions are one of the few things that manage to make the show more manageable. She's also young and has a prettiness about her. I think it's a matter of time before the big screen comes calling.

5. Bonnie Hunt- Bonnie Hunt has made a career out of playing semi-sarcastic second bananas. The sister in Jerry Maguire. The mom in both the Cheaper By the Dozen and Beethoven series, respectively. But not until she starred in her own vehicle aptly titled The Bonnie Hunt Show did America really get the chance to know what Bonnie was all about. Unfortunately, even her second attempt, Life With Bonnie, managed to capture the masses. I still hold out that something will since she's an intelligent comedic actor who has a lot to offer.

6. Amy Sedaris- Chances are you know Amy Sedaris without knowing you know Amy Sedaris. She has had bit parts in many programs, but undoubtedly her biggest claim to fame thus far is creating the role of Jerri Blank in the demented after school special spoof, Strangers With Candy. On the show, she played a runaway who returned to high school as a forty something student, eager to finish. The makeup and prosthetics made Sedaris look homely to say the least. Seeing her outside of this get up is one of the reasons why people don't always know who she is, but should.

7. Andrea Martin- The first time I ever saw Andrea Martin was when she was a cast member on Canada's answer to SNL, SCTV. A master impressionist, Martin is even funny when she isn't imitating others. A featured player, Martin went on to have parts in many movies over the years as well as to win two Emmys.

8. Kerry Kenney- When improvisational shows started spawning off successful comedic actors, cable TV got the hint. Suddenly, shows like Kids In The Hall and The State were cropping up, featuring an equally unknown batch of improvisational actors who were working probably for a fraction of the cost. Kenney was the only female cast member on The State, but has managed to hold her own in the boys club, still working with many of the same people over the years. Most recently she has been known for portraying the lovable but inept, Deputy Trudy Wiegel on Comedy Central's Reno 911.

9. Amy Poehler- Just in case you don't know who Amy Poehler is, just tune in to SNL on any given Saturday, look for the blonde who is in EVERY sketch, and you'll know who I mean. In fact, if Amy Poehler wasn't around to carry Saturday Night Live most weekends I seriously don't know what they would do. I just only hope that is as good as it gets for her. I also want to say that she reminds me of someone that I would be related to. I know it's not relevant, but it's true.

10. Tina Fey- Now Tina Fey is having moderate success writing and starring in the NBC show, 30 Rock. For years however, she was the unknown female force that kept SNL running. I always admired Fey because she was a good writer and a funny female, too. I know that SNL has had its troubles over the years. I like to believe that Fey is the reason why they managed to succeed though. All the crappy writing just must belong to someone else.

The Guys

1. Chevy Chase/Bill Murray/Steve Martin- Ok, so maybe I'm cheating a bit here, so what of it? I had a hard time including one of these men, but then again, I had a hard time not including them, too. Growing up each one of them separately, as well as together, have given me so many memories. I also lump them in together because you don't see any of them much anymore. All three of them, together or not, share one other thing in common. The ability to make me laugh without having to do much of anything at all.

2. Michael Ian Black
- Anyone who has been reading this blog for sometime now knows how much I love, love love MIB. He started on The State as well, but his deadpan sarcasm has since surfaced on many shows including Ed, Celebrity Poker Showdown, Stella, and of course, the piece de resistance, VH1's Best of...Anything series.

3. Albert Brooks- Albert Brooks is another actor who is not a traditionally funny guy. What he is however, is an extremely witty writer who never managed to get the credit he deserved, in my opinion. Starting as a stand up comic, he segued into short film making for SNL. Slowly he began to venture out into feature films, too. Two of my all time favorite have to be 1991's Defending Your Life, a movie about a man who died and has to defend his life and his actions before getting in to heaven and 1996's Mother, a hilarious movie about the overbearing yet lovable woman in a lot of our lives.

4. Will Ferrell- Will Ferrell may not be what you'd call a traditional comic, but when as an unknown he joined the cast of SNL, he was immediately a force to be reckoned with. Not only did he hold his own amongst other more seasoned and veteran cast members, he managed to breathe new life into nearly all of the skits he was a part of. In Ferrell, it is as if Martin, Chase and Murray have passed the torch. Now all I have to do is look at Ferrell, and I'm laughing.

5. Norm MacDonald- Norm MacDonald is hard to explain, probably because his humor is not appreciated by all. He had a relatively successful career as a bit of a lovable curmudgeon. He joined the cast of SNL back in 1993 where he did great impersonations of people like Bob Dole, Burt Reynolds and my personal favorite, David "Ya Got Any Gum?" Letterman. For three years, he anchored Weekend Update on SNL before making one too many off color remarks on live TV. Ultimately the mistake cost him his job. From there, MacDonald went on to star in the funny, Norm Show and had bit parts in other things here and there, but we defintely don't see enough of him anymore.

6. Howie Mandel- I know it's hard to believe, but there was a time when Mandel was best known for his mop top, gloved hand and little boy Bobby impersonations. He was one of the first comedians I actually watched a complete special on and didn't tire of the material. It was corny, but appealed to both the young and old. When he said Do You Know Radio Shack? after going to the mall, I died instantly. Nowadays I'm happy for his talk show host success. I just feel like it's a bit bittersweet, too. Here he has finally found some fame, but now there's a whole generation of people who may never know Mandel for the funny guy he once was.

7. Jon Stewart- It's hard to believe that nowadays many people get their news from Jon Stewart's Comedy Central The Daily Show. It seems like just yesterday I was watching Jon host MTV's You Wrote It, You Watch It and Jon Stewart Show. Nobody probably ever would have predicted his anchor man esque success, but hometown boy done good. After appearing at my college so many moons ago, I guess I can say I "knew" him when.

8. David Letterman- A lot has been said about David Letterman over the years. He's reclusive. He's stubborn. He's temperamental. All of those things might very well be true. But the fact still remains, he's very good at what he does- making people laugh. For years, Letterman has been one of my favorite interviewers. That's because he makes no apologies to his guests. If he doesn't know you, he tells you. If he doesn't like what you've done, he says that, too. He's told more musical guests then I can count that their music "scares him". It's this honest approach that makes me like him more, not less. Toothy grin kidding aside, I'll take Letterman over Leno any day.

9. Gary Gulman- Gary Gulman is like the Wiig of this list. He hasn't been around awhile and he hasn't done anything big, but the potential is what made me include him in the first place. The reason I like Gulman so much is because his stand up is different. He doesn't joke about the same things and he doesn't do it in the same way either. For instance, he can do a whole stand up routine with jokes about food. I never would have thought food could be that funny, but with Gulman, all bets are off. He also has a slew of pop culture references which to a self proclaiemd eighties child like me, is heaven.

10. Martin Short- I thought about including Martin Short with the three amigos that started this list off, but then I realized that unlike the others, you do still tend to see Short a lot more. I love Martin Short because he's a jack of all trades. He started on SCTV too, but he has since branched out into so many venues including TV, film and stage. His gimmick is that he is in love with himself. Maybe it's born out of some truth. I really don't care. All I know is that he makes me laugh and really, that's all I care about.



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