1. Sandra Bernhard
she scares me because you never know quite where she is going to go, but when she gets there you can wet yourself laughing. not such a big fan of the singing. nothing wrong with it, just not what i want from her. here is a diva moment for you from youtube.
2. Margaret Cho
like so many of her fans, my favourite thing is when she does jokes as her mother. here is a site that has a lot of audio files where you may make up your own mind.
3. Dawn French
for me she is one of the most talented comediennes alive today. she has the ability to inhabit the character she plays to the point where i no longer see her natural zaftigheit. however, i just found this article in the sunday times last august that highlights a morbid streak in her that was hitherto unknown to me.
4. Judy Gold
last year when d & i saw her live in nyc, she announced that she was single, and i realised that except for one small detail i had found the love of my life. unfortunately, the detail is that we have never met. but i am trying to get to know her, mostly by checking out her here.
5. Madeline Kahn
most people who know her know her from the mel brooks movies in which she appeared, especially 'blazing saddles' and 'young frankenstein'. she actually won a tony award in 1993 for her role in wendy wasserstein's 'the sisters rosenzweig'. died waaaay too early.
6. Kathy & Mo
otherwise known as kathy najimy and mo gaffney, who were an off-broadway smash in the mid-'80's before going their separate ways. created wonderful characters, especially kathy's 'maddie' talking about her gay nephew. here is a brief interview with more details from the early '90's.
7. Elaine May
with mike nichols part of the greatest comedy improvisers ever imo. ok she was responsible for one of the most disastrous movies ever, i.e., 'ishtar'. just find some cds of their improvisations, and you will see how they were the parents of all those we know today. all i could find on youtube was this., but it is not too bad. also check out wikipedia for more.
8. Bette Midler
funny, zaftig and jewish what's not to like? i first fell in love with the divine miss m when i saw her on tv whizzing around the stage in a wheelchair whilst wearing a mermaid costume. for some reason, the one line of hers that is permanently tattooed on my memory is: "what is a kreplach? a kreplach is a person from kreplachia!" this never fails to make me laugh. yes, getting a life is on my list of things to do when i have done the homework i am supposed to be doing while i am writing these notes.
9. Gilda Radner
i didn't grow up with 'saturday night live', but my sister bought a vinyl record of some sketches from the show back from a trip to the usa and that got us started. before all-night (or even all-day) tv and videos it was hard to find more of gilda's work, until i got an lp of her one-woman show. after that, every time i went to the usa i would haunt the tv looking for repeats that had emily litella et al for me to enjoy. unbelievably sadly she died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42.
10. Jennifer Saunders
"french and saunders, bee bup di do" beginning with their parts in 'the comic strip presents ...', jen and dawn changed the appearance of women in british comedy. and then, of course, there is abfab. brilliant writer, performer, and presumably anything else she wants to do.
11. Catherine Tate
maybe more people will know who catherine tate is after the next series of doctor who where she returns to be his companion for a while. i first heard of her when my mother brought me a dvd as a gift when she visited me in ny. a woman with a sketch show. another woman with a sketch show. post little britain, however, these were characters that were just very rude! the old woman who can't stop cursing, the schoolgirl who always talks back, etc. yet she makes me laugh.
12. Tracey Ullman
according to wiki, tracey is now a u.s. citizen. hmmmmm. she is of the french and saunders generation (it was all a bit incestuous back then) but left early on to try and make it in america. she seems to have done that quite well, although she is quoted as saying that maybe one day she might get a 2-minute spot on the simpsons :-) i think she is one of the most versatile actors i have seen in this genre. she is bloody good at accents!
13. Victoria Wood
if i had to pick one out of all the others, victoria wood is my absolutely most fabulous favourite. here is the intro to the wiki description:
"Victoria Wood OBE (born 19 May 1953 in Prestwich Village, Lancashire) is a BAFTA award winning English comedian, actor, singer and writer, educated at Bury Grammar, an all girls school. Wood has written and starred in sketches, plays, films and sitcoms, and her live stand-up comedy act is interspersed with her own compositions, which she accompanies on piano.
Wood is often regarded as among the top sitcom writers in Britain. Much of her humour is grounded in everyday life, and abounds with references to popular British media, stereotypically English pastimes, attitudes, prejudices, and even brand names of quintessentially British products. She is noted for her skills in observing culture, and in satirising classes."
as you can see, pretty english. very simple, and utterly brilliant.
i guess this list is pretty old-fashioned. but then, may i kick myself later for saying this, i am somewhere near something that some people might refer to as middle age, and these are the kind of people that make me laugh. although i did download sarah silverman's "give the jew girl toys" and like that a lot.