Entertainment Weekly pretends to honor hilarious Hollywood ladies in its list of the 25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood, but it’s mostly a product placement slideshow advertising some new sitcoms and movies that just hit theaters.
Anna Faris’s position at the top of the list tipped me off to its dubiousness. Almost all the profiles mention the women’s sex appeal – “four-eyed sex appeal” in Tina Fey’s case – or cuteness (as do most of the comments). A lot of the women tend to play second fiddle to male leads in bromedies (Sarah Burns? Isla Fisher? Who the hell is Emma Stone?), with a few notable exceptions (yay Julia Louis-Dreyfus!). I was pleased to see women like Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler on the list, and Jaime Pressly earned props for her sharp portrayal of Joy on My Name Is Earl. Mindy Kaling is not only a funny actress, she’s also written some of the most side-splitting episodes of The Office.
Emily Blunt is cool, but one of the funniest women in Hollywood? Rashida Jones but no Jenna Fischer? Octavia Spencer, one of a few black women included on the list, is described as “sassy.” Margaret Cho is absent. Sarah Haskins is the funniest woman in my life right now but she doesn’t have a movie to promote so I guess I’m not surprised she wasn’t recognized. The quietly witty and laugh-out-loud funny Ellen DeGeneres got no mention. None of the women are over age 50.
To make people laugh is to have power. It’s no coincidence that the women on EW’s list are conventionally attractive, mostly thin, “perky,” and non-threatening. It’s ok to laugh at them because they exist primarily as the main characters’ love interests, as eye-candy. Even so, plenty of people are still indignant that the words “women” and “funny” would be uttered in the same sentence (one commenter says “Sorry…but I tell the jokes. Not hot, blonde girls.”). Many of the actresses are funny but as a whole the list underestimates women’s comedic talents.