Over the weekend the Internet celebrated Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday. The Google doodle was a cute, retro television that played clips from I Love Lucy, and journalists everywhere took the opportunity to look back at Ball’s best moments and report on everything from today’s funny ladies to a Lucy lookalike contest.
After reading up on the topic (I’m nothing if not thorough when it comes to
procrastinating research), I asked my husband which TV actresses he thought were the funniest. His response?
“I don’t know. I don’t think women are usually that funny to me.”
WHA? Are you KIDDING me? Who IS this man in my bathroom, speaking such nonsense?
In his defense I kind of sprang the question on him, and he was running really short on sleep. So, I’ll give him a pass. THIS TIME.
And I’ll give you something even better than that: a list of MY favorite funny ladies on TV.
- Tina Fey (30 Rock): What’s even better than a funny woman? A smart, funny woman. I think Tina Fey is talented and hilarious, and I can’t wait to read her autobiography.
- Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation): I was late to the game and just discovered Parks & Rec this summer. But once I watched a few episodes, I was hooked for good. I love Amy Poehler’s dry, slightly zany humor.
- Ellen Degeneres: I love Ellen. I love her dancing and her sweet silliness. I just. Love. Her.
- Jane Lynch (Glee): Sure, Glee is occasionally over the top and the character of Sue Sylvester is no exception. But when she’s not being too ridiculous, Jane Lynch is by far the funniest part of that show.
- Betty White (and all the Golden Girls): I know, I know. 2010 was the Year of Betty White Overkill. But as someone who spends many a late-night hour watching reruns of the Golden Girls, I’m here to say that the fanfare and fawning is rightly deserved. As if you didn’t know that. All the Girls were so very funny, and I, for one, hope Betty keeps showing up on my TV.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld): Speaking of late-night reruns, I must admit a guilty pleasure. I love The New Adventures of Old Christine. There. I said it. Go ahead and laugh if you want, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is so stinking funny! You can say that you love her for Seinfeld (and who doesn’t?), but I’m going to just come out and admit that she is funny in everything she does.
- Amanda Bynes (What I Like About You): Another show that was not exactly lauded by the critics, What I Like About You introduced me to one of the funniest young actresses out there. Amanda Bynes is silly and goofy – and though she’s absolutely gorgeous, she’s not afraid to use physical humor and look ridiculous for a laugh. I’m glad her retirement only lasted for a month.
- Dixie Carter (and the other Designing Women): If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a good dozen times, at least: When I grow up, I want to be Julia Sugarbaker. Sassy Southern women who climb onto their soapboxes with gusto and wit make me laugh. Every. Single. Time.
- Judy Greer (perennial guest star and supporting actress): While I quite enjoyed Greer’s short-lived series, Miss Guided, I may have been the only one. And her show from last season, Mad Love, was quickly canceled as well. So, once again, we’re left to enjoy the almost-always neurotic-but-lovable actress in guest spots across the channels. Personally, I’ll take this funny lady wherever I can get her (even if it’s only on my DVD of Arrested Development).
- Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development): I loved Ally McBeal but don’t remember laughing much at Portia de Rossi. But on Arrested Development and Better Off Ted? She killed! She is so very funny, and I can’t wait to see her on another show.
- Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen (Modern Family): Funny in their own ways, I love both Vergara and Bowen. The end.
- Courteney Cox (Cougar Town): Obviously, I do recall that Courteney Cox starred in Friends. And yes, her female costars, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow, were funny, too. But much as I love Friends (and, oh, I DO), I think Cox takes the humor to a whole new level in the ridiculously titled Cougar Town.
- Megan Mullaly and Debra Messing (Will & Grace): And just like that, we’re back to my proclivity for late-night reruns. I only watched Will & Grace sporadically when it was originally broadcast and only realized the immense talent of the cast during the series finale. But if there’s a show that makes me put down the remote and stay up way later than I should, it’s this one. Funny, funny stuff.
- Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?):Oh, how I wish this show hadn’t been canceled so soon. I didn’t watch Married with Children, so I have no idea if Christina Applegate was funny back then. But these days? She is delightfully wacky.
- Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls and more): Sweetly silly in everything I’ve ever seen her in, Melissa McCarthy is consistently funny. She may not send me into hysterics, but giggles? Definitely.
- Bonnie Hunt, Nancy Travis, Nicole Sullivan and Megyn Price: Why, oh why can’t Bonnie Hunt find a regular spot on my TV? And for that matter, I wouldn’t argue with seeing Travis, Sulllivan and Price in good shows, either. Funny ladies, all, and here’s hoping their next projects are more successful than their last ones.
surfing research I found a few other lists of TV’s funniest women, and several mentioned raunchy gals Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler, classic comic Carol Burnett, and SNL star Kristen Wiig. They didn’t make my list, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re not funny. It just means I don’t know their work well enough to put them on my list.
Who would be on YOUR list of the funniest actresses on TV?
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