It seems every now and again, GQ tries to act like they give a shit about comedy. In July, a half-naked Mila Kunis adorned the cover of their fourth annual comedy issue. It was a progressive step, I guess, because men usually end up on the comedy issue’s cover (think Zach Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, Tracy Morgan and Paul Rudd). And although Kunis has some quality comedy bona fides through her work on Family Guy and That ’70s Show, credibility isn’t the first thing I think about when I see her half-naked, sipping on a long green straw with that ready-to-fuck look in her eyes. Laughs all around?
And, look, I’m not saying the stylist should’ve popped a big red nose and a rainbow afro wig on Kunis; but somewhere between total clown and total slut, there lies the truth. I think.
And now, the men’s magazine — which is purportedly considered a more respected publication (editorially speaking) than, say, Maxim — is revealing parts of their annual Men of the Year issue on their website each day. For their “Bro” of the year category, they’ve chosen Kristen Wiig, because she’s like one of the guys, you know what I mean? She co-wrote and starred in the biggest comedy of the year (Bridesmaids) is a veteran cast member on Saturday Night Live and is in the process of executive producing and starring in her own film, Imogene; she’s kicking comedy’s ass right now.
So, why all the overt sexuality? Is it sending mixed signals? I always thought women in comedy wanted to be judged on their craft and not the way they look. Am I wrong? Am I thinking about this too simply? I asked Lisa Cohen, founder of WitStream.com, what she thought of the Wiig photo.
“GQ wants to give us something and take us down a peg at the same time,” Cohen says. “They’ll give props to a brilliant comic actress, but not without a slutty outfit and a soupcon of submissive little girl. Otherwise we might get too uppity with power. But I don’t think this kind of thing can set us back too far; one of Kristen Wiig’s best qualities as a comedian is her willingness to be physically repulsive for a laugh.”
Cohen makes a solid point. Some of Wiig’s most popular characters are not easy to look at. Kat (from Garth and Kat), the Target Lady and the ugly sister in recurring Lawrence Welk bits, anyone?
I asked Sara Benincasa, comedian and author of the upcoming memoir Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom, what she thought of women using their bodies to help promote their comedy careers.
“I think it’s fine to use your body to promote yourself, as long as you’re not actually fucking and sucking your way to the top,” she says. My tits are going to be at my ankles in a few years, so why shouldn’t I enjoy exploiting them while they’re still reasonably buoyant? It doesn’t detract from the fact that I’m fucking hilarious.”
“The unfortunate reality is that an average-looking guy comic has a better shot at fame than a hot girl comic, and he’s way likelier to break big than an average-looking girl comic,” Benincasa continues. “People celebrate average-looking men on television and deeply resent average-looking women who attain success. Women comics have to work harder, and that often includes working at being conventionally attractive.”
GQ‘s July comedy issue also featured the below shot of Community‘s Alison Brie and Gilliam Jacobs; that’s Jacobs doing the spanking. Now, again, no one forced these two incredibly-talented comedic actresses into this shoot. And as a guy who finds Brie gorgeous — even in an over-sized hoodie — I’m certainly happy to look at a shot like this for two and a half days straight. But the comedy lover inside me fights against the dumb guy inside me when something like this pops up.
Regardless, it seems Benincasa has it almost totally figured out.
“There’s a reason I went on Weight Watchers and dropped 20 pounds this year,” she says. “If I had Gillian’s ass or were as skinny as Kristen Wiig I’d spend every goddamn day in my underpants.”
So, what do you make of all of this? Please sound off in the comments about any and all of the above.