Melissa McCarthy’s comedy for bad times


I just read an article by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, staff writer for the New York Times magazine, from which I plagiarize heavily here, that makes the point, I think, that Melissa McCarthy is just maybe what we need to cheer us up in the era of Trump. (1)

Melissa McCarthy you might remember from the movie “Bridesmaids.” She must have written her own stuff because she was a big side show that didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the movie that was also very good. She was painfully way over the edge sometimes but very funny all the time.

She has made it big with a style of comedy that doesn’t try to deal with the tough issues of our times. Taffy Brodesser-Akner says, ” ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Colbert’ and ‘Samantha Bee’ are the open-concept homes of efficiency where you can get your comedy, your information and your outrage all from one source — things that used to be sold separately.” McCarthy did do that some when she played Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. But for the most part she is a disconnected escape hatch according to this New York Times Magazine culture writer.

When she was growing up in the Midwest she liked to play act other people but she was never trying to escape herself. She says, “I like me,” and “But I am me.” The rule of her improv comedian club, the Groundlings, she was taught, was to always say, “why not,” and “yes and,” which is also the secret of people who are successful and crazy people.

“The freedom and comfort allows her to strip away the natural human vanity that undermines comedy as she tries out new lines and bombs incessantly. ‘Vanity,” [McCarthy] told me, ‘is a huge waste of time and you never get good work that way.’ Magic happens when you bomb so much.”

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t read the newspaper – The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, but also National Geographic – that also matters. So it’s not that she’s not paying attention. She’s in tune with the culture. “Phones drive McCarthy crazy, so the rule is that you can use your phone if you need to, but no scrolling. If you’re scrolling, you’re not actually checking anything. You’re checking on your 15th cousin. ‘You’re absent-mindedly removing yourself from the space you are in,’ McCarthy says.

Thank you Melissa McCarthy for being funny and avoiding politics to help us with our present day angst. But other ways to do this include not reading newspapers or drinking heavily.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/magazine/nobody-works-harder-for-a-laugh-than-melissa-mccarthy.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_mm_20181019&nl=&nl_art=4&nlid=83426110emc%3Dedit_mm_20181019&ref=headline

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