I LOVE Stephen Colbert, but…
by Dr. Rosanne Welch
It was interesting to note that in the week that the finalists for the Thurber Prize for American Humor were announced — and all 3 turned out to be females —
- Roz Chast for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
- Annabelle Gurwitch for I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50
- Julie Schumacher for Dear Committee Members.
The prize is named after humorist and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber — a contemporary of another funny woman, Dorothy Parker. She’s the woman who gave us such wonders as “You can bring a whore to culture but you can’t make her think” and
“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Lady make note of this —
One of you is lying.”
If anyone proves chicks are funny, Parker does. And if any l late night talk show host has the intellectual chops to have actually read Parker, Stephen Colbert does. So it was interesting to note that Stephen Colbert debuted as host of The Late Show this week after having promised earlier in the year to include more of a female perspective in his show. And then the writing credits rolled and the show had only 2 female writers on a staff of 19.
Now Colbert will always be my hero for all the annoying politicians he chopped down during his time on the Colbert Report and the many female guests he had. And I know you can’t be all things to all people so I shouldn’t expect that of him — I just did. Because if he just took over and he can’t change things, how long will it be until the next, inevitable guy, takes over?
It always seems to come down to experience but it’s not like women don’t write jokes and make great stand up folks. Phyllis Diller anyone? Or Roseanne Barr? Tina Fey? (not that Tina needs a gig what with all I said about loving Kimmie Schmidt a few episodes ago).
And there is untapped talent out there being discovered via social media such as Twitter every day. That’s the success story of Kelly Oxford, that Canadian stay at home mom who gained so much recognition through Twitter that she parlayed that into a New York Times bestseller, her semi-autobiographical book, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar and the sale of several screenplays to Warner Bros. NBC, CBS, FOX, WBTV. All from a Twitter feed.
But maybe Colbert doesn’t need more female writers, though it would be nice to give more women writers a career boost, and maybe grading men on their female perspective based on how many female perspectives they can hire isn’t the way to go. Maybe accepting the female perspective inside themselves is the way to go — the more men who ask for family leave, the easier it is for women to ask for family leave. The more men who take time to care for their aging parents, the more women who can without dinging their career trajectories.
So maybe of all the late night guys, he already has the most traditionally feminine perspective by virtue of his deep connection to his family — the one he was born into and the one he’s created. The interview he conducted with Vice President Joe Biden avoided too much political prancing and asked the question most women would want to know — how was the Vice President dealing with the death of his son? He also remembered to be deeply gracious about his predecessor’s contributions to the world of comedy that Colbert inherited. And he invited George Clooney along for that first show — if that wasn’t casting from a female perspective, I don’t know what is!
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— This Article was written by — Dr. Rosanne Welch
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