Growing up, the TV characters who made me laugh most often were women, and women on sitcoms. (Carol Burnett had her moments, but for the most part, I didn’t even crack a smile.) It’s still that way today: It's sitcoms and their heroines that amuse me the most. So, in honor of this weekend's Emmy Awards, here are my favorite TV Funny Ladies, in the order that they occurred to me:
1) Lucy Riccardo. I Love Lucy. Vitameatavegamin. John Wayne’s footprints. The Friends of the Friendless. Lucy threw herself into everything with such abandon that her adventures make me laugh again and again and again.
2) Samantha Stevens. Bewitched. She always seemed so reasonable, even in the most ridiculous situations. Elizabeth Montgomery’s graceful yet complete and utter suspension of disbelief made the show work, and Sam made “We-ell …” an acceptable response to anything.
3) Laura Petrie. The Dick Van Dyke Show. I’ve always believed that Rob’s wife was funnier than WJM's Associate Producer. I think of her as the “pathological snoopy nose” who unfortunately opened an inflatable boat in her living room, or the thumbless wife of Rob’s walnut-filled nightmare, and I smile. And no one cried funnier than Laura. “Oh, Roo-ooob!”
4) Anne Marie. That Girl. I’ve been rewatching the show on DVD and discovered that Anne’s tender moments with “Donald” and “Daddy” are insincere, all watery eyes and whispery voice. But as lame as Marlo Thomas was back then as a dramatic actress, she was just as funny a comedienne. Whether trying to bowl with her toe or being all Method-y and learning how to act like a chicken (for a promotion at a chicken restaurant) by watching a chicken, she is so passionate about everything she does it’s funny. In that respect, she’s like Lucy. Anne Marie wants what she wants sooo intensely that she’ll do anything, and we’ll go along for the ride.
5) Carrie Bradshaw. Sex and the City. She makes me laugh at her predicaments and yet relate to them at the same time. My favorite Carrie moment is when she wordlessly, defiantly produces a yellow square from her purse, thereby proving to the policeman that he must cut her some slack because she was indeed dumped via Post-It Note.
6) Phoebe Buffay. Friends. Which do I love more? “Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, what are they feeding you?” or “He’s her lobster.”
7) Rachel Green. Friends. I love her clumsy awkward moments. Like when she drunkenly tells Ross’ answering machine that she no longer cares. “And that, my friend, is closure!” Or when she learns to do laundry. Or sings "Copacabana."
8) Grace Adler. Will and Grace. Maybe because I sound just like her when she sings “Free Man in Paris,” or maybe it’s her “I told you so” dance … I can’t decide.
9) Murphy Brown. No one was funnier going from hard ass to softie. Perhaps because no one worked harder to sublimate her her sweet side.
10) Charlene Webster. Designing Women. The sweet and guileless character never seemed to realize that everyone affectionately found her funny. My quintessential Charlene moment has her saying, with a completely straight face, “I love knowledge. In fact, I yearn for it.”
11) Lynette Scavo. Desperate Housewives. Show me Lynette, the ultimate businesswoman and tough-as-nails negotiator, being outdone by those kids of hers and I laugh every time. I think it's because it's a role reversal from all those "Dad brings home the bacon, but he's so clueless" sitcoms.
12) Lisa Douglas. Green Acres. You know, the one who gets “allergic smelling hay.” I love her joyous ability to just roll with it. While she never was able to master cooking in a peignoir, this not-so-dumb blonde managed to integrate herself into “Hootersville” in a way hubby Oliver never did.
13) OOPS! I don’t have a #13. List your favorite TV funny lady in the comments and I’ll add you both here:
1. Candy Minx agrees with me about Jean Smart (Charlene from Designing Women)
2. Sandy Carlson prefers the classics (1-4)
3. SJR would vote for Murphy Brown
4. Cheryl mentioned Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor on Bewitched
5. Michelle's favorite would be Grace Adler
6. Malcolm would include Dorothy Zbornak from Golden Girls
7. Nicholas' favorite is Liz Lemon from 30 Rock
8. Marcia wanted to BE Ann Marie
9. Lori would include Amanda Bynes from She's the Man
10. Adelle thought Elaine from Seinfeld was very funny
11. Nicole Austin also loves Lucy
12. Meju would add Sophia from Golden Girls
13. Joy Renee thinks #13 should be Sookie from The Gilmore Girls
14. Story Teller would add Gilda Radner
15. Brenda laughs at/with Rita from the George Lopez show
16. Lori would add Samantha Jones from Sex and the City
17. Vera Bear would add the third Friend, Monica Geller
18. Journeywoman thinks the 13th spot should go to Dharma of Dharma & Greg
19. Joyful Days would include Carol Burnett
20. Popping Bubbles makes Will & Grace's unforgettable Karen Walker #13
21. Emma Sanders loves Samantha on Bewitched, too
22. Denise does, too
23. Darla goes for the classics, 1-4
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