News Column

Funny women go for laughs [New Haven Register (CT)]

May 5, 2013


Comics shine brightly on network and cable series

By Candace Havens

FYI Television Inc.

The television landscape is filled with funny women. From "Happy Endings" (ABC), which had one of the funniest season finales I've ever seen, to "Inside Amy Schumer," airing Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central, to the cutesy Zooey Deschanel on "New Girl" (9 p.m. Tuesday on FOX) and the sexy, fun "The Mindy Project" (9:30 p.m. Tuesday on FOX), women are at the forefront of American comedy.

If you missed it, find the "Happy Endings" season finale online or catch the repeats this summer. You won't be sorry. My stomach hurt from laughing so much. This is an ensemble piece where the women get just as much airtime as the men. The actresses on the comedy aren't afraid to go for the laughs, and it shows.

"Every episode it's like there's always some random thing that Jane's obsessed with, so I just kind of go for it even if it's the dumbest little thing," said Eliza Coupe of her character. "That kind of keeps it fresh because it's like the first obsession she's ever had. Like every single one is the biggest obsession, so I just make it that that's her No. 1 thing until the next episode, when it's something totally different."

"I think my character is kind of similar in the sense that maybe she's not obsessed, but I think Alex tends to get really, overly excited about the things that she's involved with, so it's similar," added Coupe's co-star Elisha Cuthbert. "And I think when we're all in a group and working together, our energy seems to always be up. I mean, Eliza and I spoke about this on set kind of toward the end of wrapping up season three, where it was like it's not that difficult to find the energy when we're all together for some reason. I think we just kind of draw off each other and it keeps things definitely high energy."

Schumer may look like the girl next door, but her comedy is as raw as it gets. She mixes it up and isn't afraid to push the envelope for laughs. Her format is a mix of the things she loves. "I love stand-up and I have a theater nerd background, so we wanted to do scenes," Schumer said. "I enjoy talking to strangers intimately so we have man-on-the-street chats, and I interview people I've never had the chance to before, like a dominatrix and a well- endowed man and so on.It's truthful and personal. I expose the rough parts of myself, hoping that it will make people laugh and ultimately feel less alone about their own secrets."

While some of the network comedies can be bawdy, they don't push certain subjects to the extent Schumer does. "I don't think there is anything taboo," Schumer said. "If there is truth to it, and it comes from a good place, I think it's fair game. If I do a roast, they are sometimes one and the same when it comes to being crude, mean and funny. But on stage, I'm never mean. I am deprecating."

Schumer will also provide viewers with a behind-the-scenes glance into her world. She and the producers have created a Web series that goes along with her show. "Viewers will see the making of the TV show, and me developing all the new stand-up material on it from the writers' room to me going on the road to Vegas. It's very raw."

One of the reasons female comedy continues to grow on television is because more of the writers are women. From Liz Meriwether, who created "New Girl," to Mindy Kaling to Schumer, women at the helm of these shows are making a difference. "She gets me and I get her," said Deschanel of Meriwether. "We're kind of the same goofy, nerdy girls in different bodies.

"One thing I love about our show is that we are really allowed to do our thing," Deschanel continued. "We're allowed to be actors and contribute. And I think it's not always that way. I think a lot of actors feel, you know, stifled. And this is such an open atmosphere. We have so much -- we're allowed to play and have fun. And it's a wonderful atmosphere to work in."

"There's a lot of me in these characters I create," Meriwether admitted. "I love these characters, and I think you have to love them to write, because how could you possibly write a TV show where you didn't love the characters?"

At press time, the fate of "Happy Endings" hadn't been announced, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. Goodness knows the world needs more laughs.

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