I just spent a good part of the weekend and the first half of this week virtually glued to the Tube until I ducked out to the cinema for a film. I was hoping for an answer, or more accurately, a glimmer of wisdom regarding a question that men have asked for years, and by that I mean as long as there have been men and women. The question: What are women really like when they’re not in the presence of men, and of course the corollary – which is how funny are they?
For the record, though these questions have been asked for eons, a definitive answer has yet to be discovered to the former, and while some are still pondering the latter, I think it safe to safe that yes – women are funny.
My eyes took in a stand-up comedy performance by Ellen DeGeneres, the new Julia Louis-Dreyfus series called Veep, the new HBO series created, directed by, and starring Lena Dunham called Girls, along with the Whit Stillman film entitled Damsels in Distress.
I caught the Ellen DeGeneres HBO Special called The Beginning which originally aired back in 2000. It was shot at the Beacon Theater, long a concert landmark on Broadway and 74th Street on NYC’s Upper West Side. There was a super opening shot, in a single continuous take (no cuts) which took us from the tree tops above Broadway, down to the sidewalk, straight through the street level doors, through the lobby, making a left turn to enter the mostly darkened theater where we then proceeded down the left orchestra level aisle, straight onto the stage, and we finally ended up behind Ellen who had just been introduced as the camera made its way down the aisle. Fabulous opening.
This was back in 2000, and this concert tour were Ellen’s first live appearances since she had come out publicly, three years prior. Ellen’s announcement had made the cover of Time magazine on April 14th, 1997. This time, DeGeneres chose to not discuss that event.
Instead she did an interpretive dance that began with her mouthing the words, Hey Everybody – I’m Gay.
You know DeGeneres – she’s fearless. She’ll do whatever she likes, and then tell everyone that it isn’t up to them, so they can stuff their judgments. Isn’t she also the one that once said – “Procrastinate now. Don’t put it off.“
Well in this 66 minute performance, DeGeneres covers plenty of familiar topics like ants that always walk in a single file, like God is actually a 42-year old black woman, like spiders have families and feelings, like silence is golden, and lots,lots more.
I’m not going to quote repeatedly from a show that was broadcast in 2001. Instead I’ll tell you briefly that my reaction was that DeGeneres is very, very funny. Not that she tells great jokes, or even great stories. It’s more like her delivery is so flawless and comfortable. Yes, she’s a big star on TV, but in this particular setting it’s like she’s a regular in my particular corner bar, or I run into her at the super market often or is it the tennis club – then again, maybe it’s the library. Her style is friendly if not all fuzzy warm, as if all of 2873 people at the Beacon theater that night knew her personally, and she knew them personally and she was on a first name basis with each of them. Of course that’s not the case (about the audience) but it is a reaction, and that’s why I like her.