Who didn’t want to be Mary Tyler Moore? Mary was a smart, successful, independent career woman out to conquer the world. That iconic beret toss at the end of the opening sequence also felt like a playful, network friendly way to flip the bird to the typical way women were portrayed on sitcoms—sad singles or else happily married baby making machines. Mary was great, groundbreaking even, but she was no Rhoda.
Played by Valerie Harper, Rhoda Morgenstern was Mary’s brash, mouthy upstairs neighbor and friend. She was quirky. She was unconventional. She was snarky, cheeky, and utterly hilarious. She was funny and to me, a goofy, awkward girl who often felt like she was a yellow crayon trapped in a box of sidewalk chalk, that meant Rhoda was everything. Rhoda was just one in a long line of funny women I adored and admired who made me realize that humor is a superpower, a secret weapon, a mighty force. And when it winds up in the hands of women—all bets are off.
This is why I’m really excited to bring readers my new book, The League of Extraordinarily Funny Women: 50 Trailblazers of Comedy (Running Press/Hachette), dropping April 9, 2019 (Pre-order: HERE) The League is a gift book, beautifully illustrated by Anne Bentley, of women you likely know–Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers–and many who, I hope, you’ll meet and grow to love–Maria Bamford, Cameron Esposito, Lena Waithe.
These profiles tell the stories of innovative women who bucked the odds and defied conventions to make comedy their way. In the process, they inspired future generations of funny women, disrupted social, political, and gender norms, and essentially altered the course of women’s history forever with no signs of stopping–you know, no big deal.
Humor has always been a lifeline for me, as necessary to my survival as oxygen. It has also been my constant companion, the hand I’ve always grabbed to feel less alone or to get me through tragedy, disaster, or heartbreak (sometimes all at the same time). I wanted to write this book to amplify the voices and contributions of many funny women, but to also show that, for women especially, humor is about more than getting laughs or landing a dream gig. It’s a way to change the world–you know, no big deal.
Thanks for the support! I’m looking forward to sharing more about this project, including the ludicrously luscious art work and illustrations, with you all in the coming months!