Revolutionary Laughter: The World of Women Comics

Roz Warren, Editor Crossing Press $16.95 (299p) ISBN 978-0-89594-742-0
This uneven collection, the eighth book in the Women's Glib Contemporary Humor series, profiles and interviews 70 female (mostly stand-up) comics. They discuss everything from the first joke they ever told to differences between male and female humor that explain why men pick on underdogs while someone like Joan Rivers only ``mocks upward.'' Most of the women express a desire to educate and transform their audiences. They prefer to make fun of sexism, for example, rather than resort to it (though Joy Behar admits that ``A dick joke is a beautiful thing''). Suzy Berger describes doing stand-up as ``shamanistic,'' while others crave the attention, the rush or the power. The diversity in motivations extends to the wide range of styles-from Carol Leifer's ``sly and dry'' to Kate Clinton's riffs on dyke life to radical fireball Reno's ``scorched-earth-style'' comedy. Few address the thorny topic of down-and-dirty insult humor. Judy Tenuta comes off pretty awkward when she calls Roseanne ``a big, fat, disgusting whale'' a few pages after critic Kathi Maio's idolatrous essay on Roseanne the ``Domestic Goddess.'' Sorely needed are more examples of each comic's humor. Too many are briefly summarized or simply questioned about their lives without any demonstration given of how their lives translate into their art. One thing they all have in common, though-nobody seems to like Andrew ``Dice'' Clay. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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