Think of all the funny men who have skyrocketed to stardom with just one memorable film: Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, Jim Carrey in The Mask, Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore, Will Ferrell in Elf, Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Seth Rogen in Knocked Up -- and now Superbad threatens to do the same for Jonah Hill and Michael Cera.
Yes, I loved most of these movies, too, but on behalf of equally-funny women, I can't help asking: Why isn't Hollywood offering up more choice films (or TV series -- see Tina Fey on 30 Rock for template) to the legions of working comedic actresses? Does the industry forget the incredible success of funny female-led shows like I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show? And where would films like Young Frankenstein and When Harry Met Sally... be without their comedic leading ladies?
There are hundreds of talented actresses deserving of a bigger break than they've been given (and don't even get me started on female directors). Here are at least six of my favorite funny women (yes, there are legions more) who could easily be the next Farley, Ferrell or Carell -- if only given the chance:
If you want a female Dave Chappelle, Wanda's as good as it gets. She's crass, crude, and unafraid to yell words like "motherfucker" like the baddest-ass guys around. She honed her skills as a regular on The Chris Rock Show, and like her mentor, she doesn't shy away from issues like racism and sexism, delivering each joke with a one-two punch of funny and poignant. At the same time, she can play a bit more reserved and knock the typical sassy sidekick role out of the park -- as she has on The New Adventures of Old Christine and Curb Your Enthusiasm. And she pretty much made Monster in Law -- she and Jane Fonda were so good together, we almost forgot J.Lo was in it.
Cast her in: Her own uncensored comedy series on a cable network, where the F-word isn't off-limits and guest stars like Charlie Murphy can be properly utilized.
Amy Sedaris is Tina Fey... on crystal meth. She's got the same pleasant good-looks, same wicked sense of humor, same Second City credentials, but when it comes to performing, Sedaris prefers to go as far as taste and the FCC will allow. Her one and only TV starring vehicle, Comedy Central's Strangers With Candy, centered on a 40-something ex-hooker/ex-druggie who goes back to high school. Sedaris played that character without an ounce of self-consciousness, letting the best of her worst come out. The result was creepy, inappropriate genius. So why can't this brilliant broad catch another big break? She deserves better than voice-over work in Shrek: The Third.
Cast her in: The biopic of Gilda Radner, another way-out-there female comic with fearless dedication to the craft, no matter how unattractive the character.
Chances are you know exactly who Judy Greer is, but you don't know her name. She's been in more than 40 films, typically playing the geeky or snippy sidekick to whoever the "big star" is (and generally stealing the show) -- from the geek-turned-top dog in the teen noir Jawbreaker (rent this and note the influence it had on Mean Girls) to the haunted big sister in The Village (she scared me more than that Bryce Dallas Howard chick).
Cast her in: ABC is smart enough to have just given her a starring vehicle, mid-season dramedy Miss/Guided, so my fingers are crossed that the material will be worthy of Ms. Greer (and impatient TV execs). In the meantime, I'd love to see her team-up with Joan Cusack (kind-of her comedic older sister) in an update of Thelma & Louise.
Unless you're a regular to comedy clubs, you probably first met Tyler when she landed the hosting gig at E!'s Talk Soup. Her two seasons were peppered with witty banter, stupid-funny skits (for which she wasn't afraid to get dirty or ugly) and her sly jokes, which would approach like a handshake, but would quickly turn into a smack in the face. She gained even more fame as Charlie, the girl Joey and Ross fought over in Friends' waning days, but always made us wonder why Charlie didn't know she was too good for either of them. She's smart, funny, sexy, and a statuesque six-feet-tall! She should be giving Cameron Diaz et. al. a run for their money!
Cast her in: Whatever projects are being cooked up for Jennifer Aniston, Hollywood should give them to Tyler instead. She is, after all, the only woman to truly distract Ross from Rachel (those other chicks never had a chance). I can see why.
Some might say Bonnie Hunt is already famous, and sure, the woman has starred in some 30-plus films and directed two others. But she's still extremely underutilized as a lead actress. Remember how bittersweet she was as Renée Zellweger's protective sis in Jerry Maguire (she knew that Tom Cruise was trouble!) and how whip-smart she was in any number of her great-yet-failed sitcoms? I want more Bonnie!
Cast her in: Instead of playing opposite the likes of Steve Martin and Robin Williams in mom-type roles, she should be landing comedic starring roles instead of them. (License to Wed with her as the officiant-from-hell? That I'd watch.) Joel & Ethan Coen: This woman is the star of your next movie.
The little blonde that used to be in the background of Saturday Night Live skits has emerged as the bona-fide leading lady. She joined forces with Tina Fey on "Weekend Update," making the first all-femme anchor team one of the funniest in the show's history (and not the least bit estrogen-heavy). Like most of the women on this list, Poehler excels at taking on characters that are less-than-flattering -- as long as it gets a laugh! Poehler has eight movies in the works, in half of which she's cast as voice talent. Good start, but if anyone's deserving of their own gross-out comedy, it's this gal.
Cast her in: Whatever the next big "doofus comedy" is, Poehler should steal the male lead. I'm talking to you, Judd Apatow. The script is probably already written, but I bet not a single word would need changing to yield the same comedic hijinks as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Just, you know, make the lead guy a girl and you're done! I already have the perfect man to play the female part, too: Poehler's hubby and Arrested Development alum, Will Arnett.
Originally posted on SirensMag.com.
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