Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Women in Comedy: Judy Tenuta

The inspiration for this post comes from you, "the reader." I realized that I kept getting hits from search engines for this comedienne--and I had no idea who she was. And since this blog is about learning about comedy just as much as it is about creating comedy, I figured it was about time for yet another, "Women in Comedy" post. Being the democrat that I am, today's post was chosen "for the people, by the people."

So here is my Wednesday Book Blog Report on Ms. Judy Tenuta.

Judy Tenuta made her "claim to fame" in the 80s, during the "stand-up comedy boom." She is the self-declared "Love Goddess" of comedy, as well as the "Aphrodite of the Accordion". (The latter of two titles stems from her stand-up comedy act, which she often performs with an accordion, perforating her routine with riffs.) She has since had her own HBO, Showtime, and Lifetime Specials, as well as been seen on every major talk show and even garnered herself a Diet Dr. Pepper Commercial deal.

I would describe her comedy character as the loud, ditzy, kitchsy, schticky, raunchy smartmouth type, complete with DayGlo colors. Obviously, the 80s was in full effect when she was "coming up."

I would say she reminds me of the following stand-up comedians:

- Pauly Shore (of 80s/90s MTV fame, whose parents founded the famous LA comedy club, The Comedy Store.)
- Julie Brown (of 80s MTV fame, perfected the "80s Valley Girl persona")
- Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens)
- Cindy Lauper (not a comedian, but you see the resemblance) (Plus, I love Lauper. If I could, I would devote an entire 5 blog posts to solely her.)

Back to Tenuta:
Now I don't want to go so far as to say that her material is "hack". But I know I could never do this type of comedy. It's just not my style. I don't like the cackle-y voice mixed with the semi-whiny brazen attitude. Frankly, she turns me off. But that's not to say that I can't learn something from her. And I'm sure if I met her, she would be cool to hang out with.

What is your opinion?

Other weird facts about Tenuta:

  • She does a lot of work with Weird Al Yankovic, I assume because of the accordion commonality. She was even in his "White and Nerdy" video. (In the video, she's the woman who receives a power strip as a Christmas present.) (Did I tell you how ashamedly attracted I am to Donny Osmond in that video? I see him in a totally different light now. He can move--even for a white boy.)

  • Tenuta is very prominent gay, lesbian, and transgender rights advocate, performing at many LGBT? / LGBTQ events. (So I guess she has a lot in common with Kathy Griffin after all!)

  • She was once married to stand-up comedian, Emo Phillips.

  • [ Judy Tenuta Official Website | Judy Tenuta MySpace | Judy Tenuta on Wikipedia | Interview with Judy Tenuta on her movie Desperation Blvd(1998) ]

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    Les Becker said...

    Gawd. I remember Judy. To be fair to the bravery it takes to get up on a stage over and over again, perhaps I shouldn't say it quite that way, but I remember she annoyed the hell outta me. She could be funny as all get out, but the voice usually ruined it for me.

    I have to say that I find it hard to believe you never heard of her. For awhile she was EVERYWHERE.

    RAFFI said...

    me too. i remember her stand-up, but especially her diet dr. pepper commercials.... "it could happen". as for your parallels, you were dead-on. and btw who said white boys can't move? i'm a dancing machine.

    Lucy said...

    Les Becker - Yeah, what you said was I was really thinking but I feel like I have to be fair to all comedians because I am one. But you, as the audience member, you're the one paying the ticket fare. (Unless, it's on HBO, in which case you can just change the channel.)

    Raffi - A dancin' machine, are you? Hmmm... Why haven't we met, yet? We live in the same city!

    The Mushroom said...

    It's about time you learned about The Goddess Juuuuuuudy! Yes, she's huge in the gay community, and she's been pretty darn funny down through the years.
    Worship me, pigs!
    I saw her live at a casino several years ago, so I feel graced.

    Lucy said...

    the mushroom - Once I went back through her video archives I remembered who she was, especially the Diet Dr. Pepper commercials. I still find her humo(u)r unfunny and slightly annoying. Although, I heard she doing new stuff, so I would like to see if she's moved on from her older less affable persona.