Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are like chocolate and peanut butter – each exceptional on their own, but also brilliant when combined. If you’ve got one, why not add the other? Universal seems to think so – it’s currently in negotiations with Poehler to star alongside Fey in their sister comedy The Nest, about sisters returning back to their childhood home for one last weekend before it’s sold. Each woman is each successful in her own right, and each has an iconic sitcom lead under her belt: Tina Fey starred as the perpetually inept Liz Lemon on the critically beloved 30 Rock for seven seasons, and Amy Poehler currently plays the persistent optimist Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. The Nest would not be the first pairing for the two; after years of working together at Saturday Night Live, they’ve collaborated on the big screen in films like Mean Girls and Baby Mama. Most recently, the two hosted The Golden Globe Awards, sending the audience in the theater and at home into hysterics with their banter. Not only are they talented performers, but they also both write and produce their projects, and are now each expanding their comedy empires into producing new television programs for this fall.
Whenever an out of touch fool of a bygone era – say, Jerry Lewis for example – tries to claim that women aren’t funny, Fey and Poehler are usually the immediate go-to examples of how ridiculous that notion is. While they certainly deserve their due praise, there are also many other women currently dominating the comedy world.
One type of comedy creator is the showrunner/star – someone who creates and performs in their own half hour television series. Mindy Kaling has done this with The Mindy Project, and Lena Dunham has created her own cultural firestorm with the much-talked about series Girls. Both women, like Fey before them, produce, write, and star in their own show… a difficult thing for anyone to pull off, regardless of gender. Additionally, Kaling, Fey, and Dunham have each written a book.
Stand-up comedy is another area where women are setting the pace. This past year, Kathy Griffin won the Grammy Award for best comedy album and set the world record for most televised stand-up comedy specials by any comedian in history. Stand-up comedian Amy Schumer – who went from stand-up to creating her own show, making her a showrunner/star as well – recently debuted the second season of Inside Amy Schumer to record ratings on Comedy Central, even besting the numbers of Tosh.0, one of the network’s flagship shows. Schumer will go on to write and star in the new film Trainwreck, directed by comedy hitmaker Judd Apatow.
Even cultural standbys like Saturday Night Live reflect the positive change in attitudes. The show – which has certainly always featured brilliant women since its inception – was once regarded as an old boys’ club. Now the cultural touchstone has been led into a new era by the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Kristin Wiig. Now the ensemble contains seven women do much more than hold their own; they’re the stars of the show… as evidenced by the viral hit (Do It On My) Twin Bed.
These are just some of the more famous ladies, but anyone with an ear to the ground in the stand up comedy or improv world could rattle of dozens more. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey may be the queens of comedy, but there’s a whole kingdom of women ready to rule.
By: Alex Warheit