Monday, August 12, 2013

We Killed

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 52.

We Killed: the Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

Summary (via Goodreads):
In We Killed, Kohen assembles America's most prominent comediennes (and the writers, producers, nightclub owners, and colleagues who revolved around them) to piece together the revolution that happened to (and by) women in American comedy.  We start in the 1950s, when comic success meant ridiculing and desexualizing yourself.  Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller emerged as America's favorite frustrated ladies; the joke was always on them.  The Sixties saw the appearance of smart, edgy comediennes (Elaine May, Lily Tomlin), and the women's movement brought a new wave of radicals: the women of SNL, tough-ass stand-ups, and a more independent breed on TV (Mary Tyler Moore and her sisters).  There were battles to fight and preconceptions to shake before we could get to where we finally are: in a world where women (like Tiny Fey, or, whether or you like them or not, Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler) can be smart, attractive, sexually confident - and most of all, flat-out funny.
Like all revolutions, it's suffered false starts and backslides.  But it's been a remarkable trip, as the more than one hundred people interviewed for this riveting oral history make clear.  With a chorus of creative voices and often hilarious storytelling, We Killed is essential cultural and social history.

My Opinion:
I read this book because I like comedy and love "behind the scenes" type stories, and funny women is a topic that has been unexplored until recently.  It was entertaining and informative (not just about stand up comedy, but TV shows as well), and the anecdotes were dishy.  An added bonus was all the talk about SNL - I'm slightly obsessed with the show and read anything I can about it.
I really liked it but recognize it's not a "mass market" type of book and recommend it only if you have an interest in the subject.

Quote from the Book:
"I think that is the comedy mentality: you just have to be around this group of people to feel validated. " ~ Laura Milligan

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