is a terrific look at, you guessed it, funny women ranging from radio and silent film stars right up through Absolutely Fabulous
and Janeane Garofalo. Each subject gets a brief bio and a discussion of her unique performance style and career highlights. (Be sure to keep a pad and pencil by your side to jot down titles for the inevitable rush to the video store.) Author Stephen M. Silverman is even-handed in his approach, including stand-up comics like Moms Mabley, comic actresses like Madeline Kahn, and actresses who weren't necessarily identified as comediennes but nevertheless turned in brilliant comic performances, like Myrna Loy. Though never a performer, Algonquin wit Dorothy Parker gets her much-deserved due as well. The book is richly punctuated with black-and-white photos, both of the dewily pretty and the appropriately loony varieties. The author explores contrasts--attractive women who play ugly, smart women who play dumb, and sophisticated ladies who enjoy tearing up the joint, but Silverman also has a clear appreciation for women who achieve a perfect realization of their own natural type. Mercifully, Funny Ladies
never makes the mistake of psychoanalyzing its subjects, though a certain shared feistiness of spirit is definitely in evidence. Don't worry about this being a gender-centered book (its subjects certainly don't), just get it for anyone who has a good appreciation of crack timing and a well-lobbed pie. --Ali Davis
From the Publisher
From Fanny Brice to Lucille Ball to Sandra Bernhard, women have kept America laughing through the century. Now, for the first time, a noted show-business journalist takes a look at these talented comediennes-and shows how they've shaped our tastes and tickled our funny bones. Packed with anecdotes, jokes, and shticks-not to mention 115 rich duotone pictures-Funny Ladies profiles more than 75 famous funny women, in cluding Mae West, Gracie Allen, Carole Lombard, Judy Holliday, Rosalind Russell, Elaine May, Carol Burnett, Anne Meara, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Tracey Ullman, Rosie O'Donnell, and Cameron Diaz, among many others. For humor hounds, stage and movie fans, and nostalgia buffs everywhere, this one-of-a-kind tribute will be a must. 115 photographs in duotone, 9 x 10" Stephen M. Silverman is the editor of the People Magazine Online Daily, and an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. He is the author of several books on film.