The Great Big Comedy Pile-Up: Part Two

A daisy chain of appreciation.

Why I Love Andi Smith

By Erin Jackson

Andi Smith has balls. She says the kinds of things you’d swear could never be funny until you hear her say them, things you’ve thought but would never cop to.

Her humor is wicked—honest in its cynicism, deadpan yet engaging. She’s a fantastic writer, never afraid of being inappropriate. She did this bit five years ago on Last Comic Standing about college being the solution to coal-mine disasters. I remember thinking, God, that’s awful, and, at the same time, That’s one of the ballsiest things I’ve ever seen. That’s when Andi Smith became my she-ro.

It’s been a couple years since I last saw her live. Since then she’s become a mom to the most adorable little baby girl. She’s back to work now—and the anticipation of hearing Andi tackle parenting in her act makes me kid-at-Christmas excited.

Why I Love Mary Mack

By Andi Smith

Mary Mack gained my respect when we were both taping Last Comic Standing in Las Vegas in 2008. We had been forced into a classic reality-TV “challenge” wherein each comedian (I think there were 30 of us) had to approach a fake hotel check-in desk and give the fake employee a one-liner about Vegas. Once you said your manufactured, faux-spontaneous jokey-joke, you were judged by an Elvis impersonator with a thumbs up/thumbs down scoring system.

When it was Mary Mack’s turn, she went up to the desk and told her joke. Elvis gave her a thumbs-down. She turned to him and said, “This is none of your business.” Then she went right back to her fake hotel business with the fake hotel employee. She not only won the challenge; she won the hearts of the 29 other comedians in the competition.

It’s possible that some of my admiration is based on Mary’s also being from Wisconsin, but the majority of it is because of her sense of humor. It’s weird. And I like it.

Why I Love Amy Sedaris

By Mary Mack

I am honored to be a part of this tribute to female comics—thanks to Andi Smith for making that happen.

All of the living ladies mentioned in this article (including part one) are wonderful. When it was my turn to choose someone to honor, I, not really understanding the rules, chose someone who isn’t with us anymore.

Phyllis Diller (1917-2012) was a walking encyclopedia of one-liners. If an audience fell behind, she’d keep plowing ahead—her attitude was “catch up or forget you.” That kind of determination takes a lot of focus.

Diller was so confident of her talent and authority that she commanded respect from everyone, and she made sure she got what she needed. She needed five minutes to be quiet, by herself, before every appearance, and she let people know to leave her alone. Why can’t I do that?! She spent a lot of time on the road; in an attempt to assimilate a normal life while living in hotels, she traveled with a moveable makeshift kitchen—pots and pans and groceries. (I learned that after I’d been keeping an electric skillet, oil, spices, etc. in a kitchen basket in my car while I drove from gig to gig—it’s the first time I thought, Wow, maybe I’m doing something right with my career.)

I’d admire her for that alone, but she was also a great comic. If you want to see her in action, look for this great documentary called Goodnight, We Love You (it’s on Netflix). She also did a great turn on the Canadian show The Amazing World of Kreskin in the ’70s.

So, I told my editor at Rookie about all of my feelings about Phyllis Diller, and she was like, “That’s great, Mary, but you have to pick someone who’s still alive, so she can write about one of her heroes.” (Teen readers, pay attention in school when they tell you the rules of a given assignment.) I immediately thought of Amy Sedaris, who reminds me of Diller in a lot of ways—they’re both into cooking, they both have a crazily magnetic stage presence, and they share a willingness to upturn expectations, to be completely weird and surprising onstage.

If Amy Sedaris is on TV, I cannot turn it off. Her brand of hilarity reaches through the screen and utterly captivates me. She’s funny, obviously, but she also just doesn’t seem to care what people think of her. That’s what I like. She particularly does not care what Hollywood thinks—not in a “this is so shocking and lewd, and I don’t care that I am performing at a nursing home” way, but in the “I don’t have to be pretty and chirp for you” way. She’s not afraid to be “ugly” funny, though she happens to be a beautiful woman. (I’m really sick of working in a system that promotes comedians who are pretty, even when they aren’t funny.)

Dear TV: please have more Amy Sedaris. Most of the people living behind what happens on you, my television set, seem, most of the time, like they’re immune to FUNNY. Or maybe they’re afraid of it. Come on, TV people, grow a pair of ovaries.

I don’t know Amy Sedaris, and maybe she doesn’t want to be on TV anymore. I can’t really fault her for that, but it hurts me. I need to see more of her stuff. (For now, you can occasionally catch her on The Late Show With David Letterman, and you can watch episodes of her late, great show Strangers With Candy here. Or you could search around for the sketch show she was on before that, Exit 57. Or you could listen to her voice in the two most recent Shrek movies. Or read one of her several books. So, yeah. She’s busy.)

Finally, and least important, I’m proud Amy Sedaris and I have the same middle name: Louise. That’s a strong lady’s name. Also, I saw a picture of her with a rabbit, and I’ve been wanting to get another rabbit (had one when I was little). In fact, I keep an informative book about rabbits next to the toilet, so I can accomplish two things at once. I fantasize about what books Amy Sedaris would have next to her toilet. I envision a rabbit picture book and maybe an Al-Anon reader, just like me.

Comedy Central needs another scripted show as good as Strangers With Candy. Gosh, TV pisses me off. I’m going back to books.

Thanks again to Andi Smith and Rookie for including me, and thanks to Phyllis Diller and Amy Sedaris for being themselves. Amen. ♦

To be continued (sooner this time!)…


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  • Claire October 31st, 2012 3:04 PM

    Aw, no Chelsea Peretti?

    • cherrycola27 October 31st, 2012 4:02 PM

      I love Chelsea Peretti!
      I also love all these ladies! I just bought Amy Sedaris’s cool book the other day. It’s hilarious. And I’m definitely looking up more Andi Smith.

      • Claire October 31st, 2012 4:26 PM

        Yes! Amy Sedaris is undeniably awesome – I’m going to a meet-and-greet thing for her in November! My ultimate wish is to be an adopted member of the Sedaris family, I think.

  • Maddy October 31st, 2012 4:10 PM

    I am so wondering who the illustrious comic who turned down Rookie is.

  • ShockHorror October 31st, 2012 4:15 PM

    These ones make me sad because much as I love comedy being from the UK means I have not heard of most of them!

    Only Gina Yashere I’ve heard of ):


    • Libby October 31st, 2012 4:28 PM

      I’m obsessed with Sarah Millican and really hope some Rookies outside of the UK get to see her stuff. I mainly hear/watch her on panel shows which you might be able to get hold of online? She’s great.

      • ShockHorror October 31st, 2012 5:00 PM

        Wooo Millican! Going to see her next year and I can’t wait.

        She’s almost definately on the youtube.

        I looove Josie Long evne more though.

        And so many comedians in general really D:

      • TinaBallerina October 31st, 2012 5:03 PM

        Ah, she’s great! I’m from Norway, but I watch a lot of BBC, and therefore a lot of British Comedy. Little Britain is great (“Computer says no.”) , but the best is Jo Brand! She’s hilarious!!!!

        These all seem great, even though I’ve never heard of them before !

      • Ella W November 1st, 2012 2:35 PM

        Sarah Millican is a LEGEND!!! As is Miranda Hart! Also French and Saunders, I know they’re not current comedy, but still hilarious.
        There are some less well known UK female comics that I know as well. Laura Solon is a genius, as is Pippa Evans, basically check out any episodes of ‘Fast and Loose’ on Youtube. I also LOVE Shappi Khorsandi!

        • Yayo December 6th, 2012 4:55 PM

          I was just about to say Shappi Khorsandi – she’s actually hilarious.

  • rosiesayrelax October 31st, 2012 4:36 PM

    Guys, open your minds to Miranda Hart. She’s a Brit, and hilarious in a dignified way!! I would marry her if I could.

    • TessaTheTeenageWitch October 31st, 2012 5:57 PM

      ERMAHGERDDD MIRANDA. I am seriously in love with her. She is such a genius, and is pretty much the highlight of my life.

      SUCH FUN <3 <3

      • Lillypod October 31st, 2012 10:59 PM

        yep she is hilarious

        • karastarr32 November 1st, 2012 7:42 AM

          Is it sad that my mum and I quote from Miranda in everyday life? I even have the box set. She is my spirit animal :D

    • Ella W November 1st, 2012 2:28 PM

      All me and my friends talk about is Miranda!! (well, that and Downton Abbey, but that’s another story…)!
      I flipping ADORE her, and generally cannot get through the day without making some quote or other from Miranda. I have all the boxsets, and UK Rookies, Mirandas new series starts in JUST OVER ONE WEEK!!!!! Friday 9th November… be there!

      • karastarr32 November 4th, 2012 3:48 PM

        You got me really excited there and I ran up to the telly to record it. I checked on the tv. Not there. Do a search on the tv. Not there. Check again. Google it. According to Tom Ellis (aka Gary) the show will be back… In time for Christmas. Now I am sulking because I won’t have a new Miranda cheer me up after I have my braces put on :’(…. I guess I’ll just pop the DVD in…. My family is all in a bad mood now… First Collin gets kicked off Strictly, then no Miranda! Oh well. Better watch some Angel or Buffy to cheer us up… Here I come, DVD boxsets!

        • Ella W November 9th, 2012 12:53 PM

          Sorry sorry sorry!!!
          I honestly thought it started today, all my friends told me it was, but it doesn’t start til christmas.
          I share your pain, and like you have turned to box sets to cheer me up, currently on episode 6 of 39 of Robin Hood.

        • Ella W November 9th, 2012 12:55 PM

          I also don’t understand why Colin was kicked off strictly. Get rid of Richard and his smarmy face!!

    • SewHappy November 4th, 2012 2:16 PM

      Oh, she is just great! Only yesterday was I having a conversation with my friend about her!

  • Flyer October 31st, 2012 6:31 PM

    I’ve been waiting so long for this!!!

  • Kathryn November 1st, 2012 12:13 AM

    I LOVE AMY SEDARIS. her book “I like you: hospitality under the influence” is hilarious and awesome and also she was on 30 rock last week!

  • ICantThinkOfAUsername November 1st, 2012 3:53 AM

    Aaah! I love Mary Mack so much!! I’m so glad she was included this time.

  • Narnie November 1st, 2012 7:29 AM

    I just love this; it’s so friendly and fun and full of admiration and it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  • Ananas November 1st, 2012 8:10 AM

    I always thought that the British having a different sense of humour than the Americans was just a stereotype, but i didn’t find any of those clips particularly funny…. maybe it’s just me.

    I’d quite like to see an article about British TV shows, it would be interesting to see which ones you watch in the states, and your take on them. my favourite comedian of all time has to be Miranda Hart though, i am actually in love with her show, i can watch the same episode over and over, and still be on the floor laughing :D

  • Taylor WM November 1st, 2012 9:15 AM

    I read this post whilst waiting in the hour-long queue to see the new James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’. I believe the people behind me (who kept subtly trying to read this off my phone – over my shoulder) enjoyed it as well :)
    I love seeing all these American comedians, being from the UK and so only hearing about a very limited number of US comics, this is very very cool ;)
    Taylor x

  • CorduroyMagic February 26th, 2013 6:31 PM

    Wisconsin accent love <3 REPRESENT! Also, I couldn't help but read each passage in the voice of whatever comedian was writing it thanks to the videos, so, that was awesome