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Comediennes: Laugh Be A Lady Paperback – September 1, 2012
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About the Author
Darryl Littleton is the author of two histories on the subject of comedy; one being adapted into an acclaimed documentary. He sits on the advisory board of the Comedy Hall of Fame. Tuezdae Littleton has written for Comedy Central standup specials and is a member of FICA (Females in Comedy Association).
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Top Customer Reviews
Loved everything about this book, from learning about comediennes I had only just heard about to getting to know others better. The book not only allows you to see how their comedy evolved with the times, and how they have been able to blaze amazing trails for themselves and other female comedians as well.
One of my favorite parts of the book were the quotations from some of those profiled that give not only their advice for others in the business but for all of us willing to take chances. It's not easy to blaze a new trail, but it is necessary if you are going to make your mark.
Definitely a book that will have you smiling while turning the pages, COMEDIENNES is a real gem of a read.
This is not a typical tribute book. My first clue came in the fact Thea Vidale wrote the foreward. I remember her from the early days of cable stand-up comedy and her TV show. What I didn't know is the fact she was the first African-American comedienne to have a show named after her. The book is full of obscure facts and insights into the real world of women in comedy. That's what I liked about it and why I would highly recommend it.
The history spans from the 10th century to right now. It honored all the comediennes we're familiar with, but also women we'd forgotten who deserve to be remembered. I went in thinking it was going to be a list of the usual suspects, but turned out to highlight many of the comediennes people know now too. I enjoyed how the book covered different genres of comedy. It dealt with comediennes from vaudeville, film, albums, Laugh-In, SNL , huge concert tours like the Queens of Comedy and Latin Divas of Comedy and the new breeds - Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and Lisa Lampanelli. It surprised me how many working class comediennes were interviewed to take us into what's it really like trying to make it instead of how it is when you're on top. They took me right on the road and gave me the day-to-day of doing it and answered the question of why.
A book this ambitious in scope should've been 2 books to cover everybody at length. However, I feel the authors did a great job pointing the spotlight on the legends like Mae West, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Phyllis Diller, but they also explored the influence and artistry of Elaine May, Imogene Coca, Gracie Allen and Anne Meara. I loved the fact they devoted an entire chapter to Moms Mabley. I'd read long ago that she is recognized as the first female stand-up comic of any race. It's fitting that book named `comediennes' should pay tribute by featuring its pioneer. Clearly the authors are students of comedy.
Many books of this kind miss minorities unless they have big names. That is not a problem here. I felt like I was reading about the integration of baseball. Most early female comedy was highly segregated and blacks and other minorities got little media attention. The turning point came with the variety shows and talk shows in the 60s and 70s. America was able to meet the talented Moms Mabley, Lawanda Page and Shirley Hemphill. Without these women we'd have no Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes or Mo'Nique.
I found the book a reservoir of untapped information I probably could not find anywhere else. It was refreshing to be engaged so thoroughly.
What I liked most was it didn't come off like a history book. I thought it was cute that they call it herstory, but it was for the comedy fan of now. It gives you all the old comediennes, but I also got to read about women I've seen in the comedy clubs and from Def Comedy Jam and BETs Comic View.
As a woman I found it a good book, but not just for women. It was gritty in places and having interviews and comments from club comediennes was good. They told a side of it you don't usually hear. This is a book to get if you like comedy of all kinds.