Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Dream job of The Daily Show . . . or not
September 26, 2007 6:58 PM   Subscribe

It's a slightly less glamorous beginning than I had imagined, but that doesn't matter because getting the job on The Daily Show is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me. Writer/actor/comedienne Lauren Weedman recounts her six-month quest to get Jon Stewart to like her. (She failed).

Having seen Weedman's one-woman shows it's clear that she's a stunning talent. But that talent apparently didn't extend to fitting into the culture of The Daily Show. Excerpted from her new book A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: (Tales from a Life of Cringe). Check her out in person on her book tour.
posted by donovan (95 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorta Courtney Love. But not even.
posted by Sk4n at 7:05 PM on September 26, 2007


Is this fiction, or is this woman completely insane?
posted by mrnutty at 7:10 PM on September 26, 2007


Any clips of her actually on the show? I'd love to see what she actually looked like.

Is this fiction, or is this woman completely insane?

I think, to be funny, you've got to be a little crazy.
posted by delmoi at 7:13 PM on September 26, 2007


No wonder Jon doesn't like her. She's not funny.
posted by nyxxxx at 7:13 PM on September 26, 2007


The title of the piece in The Stranger (1st link) made me think of this WaPo op-ed by Richard Cohen about Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
posted by Poolio at 7:20 PM on September 26, 2007


That certainly wasn't funny. It was definitely an attempt, though!
posted by blacklite at 7:21 PM on September 26, 2007


This may not be funny, but she is one of the most stunningly amazing and hysterically funny live performers I've EVER seen in my life. I worship her.
posted by tristeza at 7:25 PM on September 26, 2007


On multiple occasions, Jon Stewart has gone out of his way to make it clear that what he and his writing staff and all the crew of The Daily Show do is, behind the scenes, anything but glamorous. It's thankless. It's pedantic. It's mind-numbing. You try coming up with a way to say "George Bush is stupid" in new and refreshing ways every day for eight years. It's enough to drive anyone to smack.

He'd be making light of it of course, but Stewart is painfully self-conscious about what both his crew endures. I'm trying to remember an exact example... It's just that he uses the experience as the butt of jokes - not his crew of course but whenever someone says something ingratiating towards him like "it must be fun working with you on your show" he's very quick to jokingly make it clear it is SO NOT.

And maybe he's just joking... but the best humor comes out of the truth of the situation. If I were twenty years younger I'd jump at the chance to write for that show. Not cuz it's glamorous. It'd be a heck of a learning experience for any young aspiring comic writer. However, it'd be murder too. The deadlines must be temporally impossible without a time machine and dramamine.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip failed for many reasons but chief among them: a show about writing for a comedy show isn't funny... with one possible exception, but that was a long time ago.

Today? I wouldn't last five minutes in that kinda environment and I know it. In my youth, maybe a day, but I'd be under the illusion I could go the distance. Major props to this Weedman chick for trying, but at the same time.. she musta been hard up for copy cuz this article of hers just reads like whining

"I am going to be allowed to live."

Suck it up lady! Sheesh! This might explain why they let her go so quick. Writing jokes for The Daily Show would be like.. uh gee I dunno.. DAILY. No time for worrying whose seat yer sittin' in or what shit yer steppin' in. She had her day in the sun and found out she's not cold-blooded. Tough noogies. Now she's trying to make a quick buck outta her brush with fame. Did The Seattle Stranger pay her anything for this article? Did they ask for their money back?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I thought that was pretty funny. It was pithy, had decent "timing" within the piece, and had a good tone.

Perhaps y'all are confusing self-deprecating for needy, the way Stewart seems to have.

(That, or the general note that there's a cult o' Jon here on the Blue).
posted by klangklangston at 7:28 PM on September 26, 2007


She's actually very very funny and I've sat in a theater waiting to belly laugh at what she'd say next.

But clearly she's not a fit to be a cog in a comedy machine (one I greatly enjoy).

Poolio, thanks for that link and the connection. I thought the Colbert performance was one for the history books and the beltway "that's not funny" reaction revealed something that had nothing to do with humor. In a similar way, I found myself being kinda shocked that Mr. Stewart didn't find some of Lauren's comments funny.

Maybe what both observations reveal is the difference between "oh that's funny 'cause I'm personally removed from the punchline" and "of fuck, I actually live here . . . not funny!"
posted by donovan at 7:29 PM on September 26, 2007


I like the Daily Show, but find Jon Stewart tiresome. I also didn't like her.

But I do like Colbert!
posted by mrnutty at 7:30 PM on September 26, 2007


Based on the just first ten paragraphs of that screed, I would have fired her after week one. Stewart must have had the patience of a saint.
posted by Ber at 7:34 PM on September 26, 2007


I found it funny. Wonder whether women find it funnier.
posted by Maias at 7:39 PM on September 26, 2007


...and one more thing.

The really scary thing is, everyone on that show, including Jon himself, is just as desperate and scared as she was. They're just slightly better at hiding it.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:44 PM on September 26, 2007


Firing her was the kindest thing anyone could do for her. And it's not like she wasn't given chance after chance. She was obviously ill-suited for the job.
posted by ColdChef at 7:45 PM on September 26, 2007


I didn't find it that funny, and she did seem, like, neurotic.

Based on the just first ten paragraphs of that screed, I would have fired her after week one.

Well, I'm sure it wasn't obvious what was going through her head the whole time. In the paper she only shared a few sentences with john.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on September 26, 2007


Oh dear. I don't think this would be a clip I'd want to "highlight".
posted by ColdChef at 7:48 PM on September 26, 2007


I have a feeling that, given her self-admitted obsessive tendencies, she's taking a real-life experience and doing what all comics do - stretching it out for effect. I'm sure there's little tolerance for someone fawning over Jon Stewart or trying to score funny points at a place where being funny is...work. And Jon probably does have a game face, he is the man over there, right? She seems funny but a few of the paragraphs in that article made me want to punch her in the face, because they were more tiresome than anything. She could do with some editing, but there are few people around who couldn't, Mr. Stewart included.
posted by SassHat at 7:51 PM on September 26, 2007


Richard Cohen is a hack, and while it might not hold universally, nearly everyone who says or writes "I am a funny guy" ain't.
posted by Tullius at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regarding that clip, she killed the timing of the joke (which would be easy to do if you're on a closed circuit camera on another set elsewhere in the studio), she didn't seem to understand in what way her lines were funny, but to be fair to her, the whole joke was bad. It's one of those kind of jokes that takes too much to set up. Take the money, walk to the deli, give it to the stereotype, and say 'six.' Whoever wrote this joke needed to chunk it and get a new joke.

...she didn't write the whole bit did she? I mean, they just gave her the job of saying two lines, right? If she actually wrote that skit, they didn't fire her soon enough.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2007


rules for being a comedy writer:
1) be funny
2) dont take it so personally
3) dont try so hard

she breaks them all repeatedly and without remorse. No wonder she didnt last so long, even at a show that is repetitive and not really that funny most of the time. (sorry, Jon Stewart is a funny man but preaching to the choir wears on me)
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:05 PM on September 26, 2007


and now that I read further:

they wanted her to appear to be taking her work seriously to her boss? the bastards! truly this comedy writing is the fruits of the devil!
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:10 PM on September 26, 2007


This article just seemed to make Jon Stewart look that much better, I think.

I had to stop reading about halfway through because as others have already said, if I were in his position of having to listen to her fawn and stumble over attempts at being cool and funny, I'd probably have gotten rid of her much earlier.
posted by elf_baby at 8:16 PM on September 26, 2007


I think she's probably a) well-aware how needy and neurotic she comes off and b) exaggerating how bad she was.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on September 26, 2007


I think she's probably a) well-aware how needy and neurotic she comes off and b) exaggerating how bad she was.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on September 26 [+] [!]

Well you would know that now, wouldn't you.
posted by donovan at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jeez, she made me uncomfortable and I haven't even met her. Her idea of "being herself" is to incessantly make weak jokes? And then she struggles to portray the staff of TDS as inauthentic and judgmental? That's funny.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:36 PM on September 26, 2007


It's a series of weak, unfunny jokes being used to tell the story of why she crashed and burned in one of comedy's harshest crucibles.

Color me surprised.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:41 PM on September 26, 2007


I thought it was extremely funny, and I wouldn't expect very many people to get it.
posted by Brian B. at 8:44 PM on September 26, 2007


I found it funny. Wonder whether women find it funnier.

Not this woman. Ugh, that was unfunny in a most irritating way.
posted by desuetude at 8:52 PM on September 26, 2007


This was the first article that I've read that makes me not like Jon Stewart very much.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:55 PM on September 26, 2007


Forget Ricky Gervais, I think Steve Carell based 'Michael Scott' on her.
posted by crashlanding at 8:58 PM on September 26, 2007


Yikes. That was a painful read.
posted by ryanhealy at 9:04 PM on September 26, 2007


It's pretty clear that she didn't fit with TDS, then or now. One-woman shows are what she does best.

She was a cast member the last two seasons of Almost Live, and she was a bit of a spare part.

She really plays up the "weed" part of her last name. I don't think I've ever seen her perform without wondering if she's had one or two dime bags that day.
posted by dw at 9:05 PM on September 26, 2007


This was the first article that I've read that makes me not like Jon Stewart very much.


On the other hand, this article actually humanizes him for me. And just goes to prove, just because The Daily Show is hilarious, doesn't mean working on it is.

Especially if you're as needy and unfunny as Lauren Weedman. The article may have been exaggerating for effect, but it didn't once make me feel sorry for her. In fact, if she was this trying in person, no wonder she doesn't work there anymore.
posted by crossoverman at 9:08 PM on September 26, 2007


Wow. This would be like hiring an actor who is always "on". A poet who speaks only in rhyme. A salesman pitching to his colleagues when not to the customer. Fucking annoying, needy, and impossible to be taken seriously. I'm amazed they spent this much time and energy on her. Someone must have been pulling for her behind the scenes for her to have lasted as long as she did. Either that or their apparent concern for the lack of female talent led to them keeping her on far longer than they should have.
posted by dreamsign at 9:08 PM on September 26, 2007


Jesus, she had six years to work on that material (note the reference to getting fired shortly after 9/11). Wow. Just. Wow.
posted by chinston at 9:10 PM on September 26, 2007


I'm trying to uncringe, but I can't.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:26 PM on September 26, 2007


See... I read the entire article. Not because I got a weak chuckle out of anything but because I was totally mortified at what she was doing. If any of those I-popped-my-head-in-the-office-and-rubbed-my -nips-for-a-cheap-laugh were true, I mean. I write, I embellish just enough so I can say I didn't lie. But wow, man she totally went for the cheapest easiest joke each time.
Also, most people are funnier live than not. I saw Dane Cook live and I couldn't stop laughing, but then again that was four years ago in that "early college" type of funny.

I'm surprised they were so nice actually. I'm wondering how she was hired to begin with. Did she say so in the article? I can't remember, all I can remember is her flapping around trying to make me look at her.
posted by apfel at 9:37 PM on September 26, 2007


Ummm... all I'm going to say about her descriptions of herself on The Daily Show is "Sheeeesh."

Girl had no clue of proper behavior on set. Or humor, really. She sounded more like one of those scary ex-girlfriends people talk about years later with their hands over their faces.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:37 PM on September 26, 2007


She says she's told right off not to try to be funny because it wears thin, but then she continues trying to be funny anyway. And she fails at it mostly: generally coming off strange, desperate, or deranged.

How did she get that job, anyway? She claims that she'd never seen the show before she started. She must be one hell of a standup comic (with, I'm guessing, a one-note routine about not fitting in).
posted by Tuwa at 10:17 PM on September 26, 2007


Yeah, she said she's never seen the show, but also that she was so nervous because it was her "dream job." Which claim is the sarcastic/droll one?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:39 PM on September 26, 2007


"I'm sorry I'm not laughing—it just takes a lot to make me laugh. It has to be like, hilarious, to make me laugh. I'm sure you're really funny, but I'd just be careful with the 'trying to be funny' thing. Everyone has a really low tolerance for that around here. So, anyway, welcome!"

I've read interviews with writers for the The Show of Shows (Sid Ceaser, Carl Reiner), SCTV (John Candy, Rick Moranis), the early Saturday Night Live and many other similar shows and the writers were all were constantly trying to make each other laugh, all the time.

If I was a comedian and I heard a speech like this I'd find the nearest exit. Clearly these people take each other way too seriously.
posted by eye of newt at 10:57 PM on September 26, 2007


...also it looks the office manager Stephanie is constantly setting her up like a bowling pin. She's always telling her how nervous Jon is around her, and when Lauren asks Jon he looks shocked and even asks once "is she serious?"

Maybe her sin was being too easily manipulated out of a job.
posted by eye of newt at 11:03 PM on September 26, 2007


This woman hated it. And my response to her would have been the same as what she got from her coworkers. Fake smile on the first day or two because she's trying to fit in and is clearly nervous, but eventually just responding with dead stares. People quietly pulling her aside to tell her the schtick isn't going over well and to tone it down is an act of kindness that she didn't seem to recognize at all.
posted by hindmost at 12:03 AM on September 27, 2007


I can't tell from this whether or not the person who wrote it can be funny on stage or off.

What I can tell you is that reading this was extremely uncomfortable. She may not have been making Jon uncomfortable, but her behavior and the way she described the whole thing had me cringing (mere steps away from writhing!).

She should've taken Jules' advice and been like Fonzie.

Be cool.
posted by sparkletone at 12:09 AM on September 27, 2007


Ugh, if her rendition of events is even close to accurate, I wouldn't have been able to stand her presence for very long either.
posted by Jezztek at 12:26 AM on September 27, 2007


Meh. So Jon Stewart is also Larry Sanders. Just like Charlie Rose, Bill O'Reilly and all the rest of them. No surprises there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:27 AM on September 27, 2007


I found it funny. Wonder whether women find it funnier.

Yeah, this woman didn't find it funny either. I felt horribly awkward for her sake, and then I felt horribly awkward for everyone else's sake.
posted by katillathehun at 12:33 AM on September 27, 2007


She seems to have had a strange idea of what the job entailed. A sensible approach in any job is to start out being professional until you're able to gauge the culture of the workplace. She seems to have just barged in there assuming it was a larf-a-minute game where the prize is Jon Stewart's attention, instead of it being, I don't know, a job.
posted by andraste at 2:04 AM on September 27, 2007


I was thinking how the article made the staff seem so unaccepting of anyone who doesn't understand their unwritten rules. Maybe that's the reason they have such trouble keeping women or non-white writers.
posted by jb at 2:54 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seemed to me she was just the kind of person who uses humour to cover nervousness and, finding herself in a position where she was nervous all the time, it wore a bit thin. I'd imagine it might work better if you heard her say it - she seems to have a particular 'voice' - but I was cringing rather than enjoying the tale as written.

Off her webpage there's an LA Weekly interview that seems to explain her slightly better, with some vis at the end (that I haven't seen as I'm at work)
posted by Sparx at 3:22 AM on September 27, 2007


The people at TDS manage to consistently churn out one of the funniest and most-watched / most-discussed / most-influential shows on the planet.

HOW they manage this feat isn't that important to me. I'm sure it's difficult... sort of like a swan: all graceful above the water but working away like mad underneath.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:59 AM on September 27, 2007


There is nothing less funny than someone trying too hard to be funny. Particularly when they are not. I just kept thinking 'Ironic Self Revelation' all the way through this article. She seemed very desperate and needy in a pressure-cooker environment which in turn just highlighted those aspects of her personality.

I don't think Jon Stewart came across as an asshole at all. He just struck me as someone who is very busy and who couldn't be bothered with the tiresome office clown. This has pretty much been the rule in any place I have ever worked. Some people humour these types of people, others (like me) just want as far the fuck away from them as they can get. I think Jon may be in this latter camp. He is the star of the show, but I didn't detect any excessive prima donna behaviour.

As an aside, as a Brit who watches TDS on More4 whenever I can, I have watched guys like Dave Gorman (not my favourite comedian by any manner of means but witty all the same) really struggle on TDS whereas in other shows he really thrives. The format may not work that well for some comedians.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 4:28 AM on September 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


ClanvidHorse, I have to say that John Oliver is one of my favourite TDS 'correspondents' ever:
In the course of his career, John has received no awards worth mentioning but did receive a letter of complaint from Buckingham Palace, which is clearly a lot better.
Only Carrell has seemed to find 'real success' outside the show.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:24 AM on September 27, 2007


Jon nods his head and very politely says, "Yeah. Good. Listen, can I talk to you when you're done with Lauren?"

I jump to my feet, put my hands on my hips, pinch my nipples, and say, "I just want to please you. Do I please you, Jon? Do I?


Yeah it's a wonder she didn't fit into the show.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 5:24 AM on September 27, 2007


Only Carrell has seemed to find 'real success' outside the show.

There's also that Colbert guy. He seems to be doing okay.
posted by deadcowdan at 5:37 AM on September 27, 2007


The article was pretty cringeworthy, but we all have embarrassing moments. I do not think less of either her or Jon.

However, the article brings up a personal paradox: To me, nothing is like nails-on-a-chalkboard than someone trying to be funny. On the other hand, isn't comedy writing and being a comedian the essence of trying to be funny?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:48 AM on September 27, 2007


My negative impression of Stewart may be wrong, but I'm naive enough to think that maybe, since he's the star of the show and she's having some problems, that he might take a few minutes of his time to work with her to get her more assimilated to their culture and make the show better (or, get someone on staff to do it since he's too busy). Instead, it just comes off like she's immediately thrown to the wolves and given little guidance, as if she's disposable and not worth the effort because, hey, "we can just get another woman if she doesn't work out."

It all just makes me wonder why they even hired her in the first place.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:30 AM on September 27, 2007


eye of newt:
...also it looks the office manager Stephanie is constantly setting her up like a bowling pin. She's always telling her how nervous Jon is around her, and when Lauren asks Jon he looks shocked and even asks once "is she serious?"

Maybe her sin was being too easily manipulated out of a job.
"When Lauren asks Jon if he's nervous around her" is a very curious way to describe:
I jump to my feet, put my hands on my hips, pinch my nipples, and say, "I just want to please you. Do I please you, Jon? Do I?" (...) "I'm so worried about you licking me—what is wrong with me?—I mean liking me—"
You seem to be trying to make it appear as if Jon's "Is she serious?" (which is directly in response to the above nipple-pinching-lick-me behavior) meant "Is she serious? I'm not nervous around her!" when it's pretty clearly "Is she serious? She's coming off as a fucking lunatic."
posted by Flunkie at 6:59 AM on September 27, 2007


Very interesting. I remember seeing her on the show a few times, and always thinking that she was somehow trying too hard. I guess that was true off-camera as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:00 AM on September 27, 2007


Geez, my take on the whole piece is that it's fiction. Not that none of it happened, but that she took insignificant events and embellished them humorously for our entertainment. Approved!
posted by zorro astor at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The people at TDS manage to consistently churn out one of the funniest and most-watched / most-discussed / most-influential shows on the planet.

Oh, get over yourselves.
posted by Ritchie at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2007


miss lynnster writes "Girl had no clue of proper behavior on set. Or humor, really. She sounded more like one of those scary ex-girlfriends people talk about years later with their hands over their faces."

Yeah, that's exactly what came to mind for me, except my ex was pretty funny, but she didn't know when to stop. But, scary, yes. When things went bad, they went real bad.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:32 AM on September 27, 2007


*shrug* Check the ratings. Count the Emmys. Note the presidential candidates as guests. Find another American talk show that's broadcast in the UK.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2007


The whole article struck me as rather overwrought fiction, and as such, I tuned out somewhere around the (unbelievable and unfunny) nipple pinching. I can't believe anyone read this and thought they got a true or accurate impression of working on The Daily Show.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2007


That is the saddest thing I've read in weeks.
posted by RussHy at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2007


Does she have four arms, or does she have nipples on her hips? Either answer could explain why her new colleagues found her alarming.
posted by stammer at 9:37 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me like they tried to give her some guidance a month in and she ignored it completely:

(this comes after she repeatedly attempts to keep Mr. Stewart's attention on her after he indicates he's stopping in to talk to the exec producer, which includes the nipple incident)

"The instant it clicks shut, she leaps toward me, grabs my arm, and starts shaking me.

"You have got to calm down!" she says. "Stop auditioning for the job! Relax!""

Did she do that? No, of course she didn't.

She went on to pull the same kind of lameness several time, and they finally had the sense to set her free.

Nah, not funny. Embarrassing for her and confirms to me that she was a chore off the show resulting in chore-ish pieces from her on the show.

I was a regular viewer during most of her career there, although not so much anymore. I got tired of the schlocky "correspondent" bits with absolutely uncompelling "correspondents" and I was tired of being uncomfortable with the less competent "here's a twist!" fake interviews...and Samantha Bee makes me peer about for large, heavy things to throw at the television. I really like Jon Stewart's approach to things and can watch his monologues and his interviews for hours on end, but the rest of the stuff they throw in only works about a quarter of the time for me, if that.

As to the Colbert show...I'm sure it's brilliant, but a spin-off of a fake news show wherein the premise is faux-combative-right-wing talkshow? Ugh. Tiresome. Is it that hard to be consistently clever about current events without faking some part of the relationship to the viewer or guest? Really?

If so, I think I know what my next career move is going to be.
posted by batmonkey at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2007


times, not time. dangit.
posted by batmonkey at 10:39 AM on September 27, 2007


After 9/11, Lauren Weedman did one of the first extremely funny sketches: "I Still Heart NY." (It's too bad she came at the job with such a "look at me, I'm high-maintenance!" shtick.)
posted by McLir at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2007


As to the Colbert show...I'm sure it's brilliant, but a spin-off of a fake news show wherein the premise is faux-combative-right-wing talkshow? Ugh. Tiresome. Is it that hard to be consistently clever about current events without faking some part of the relationship to the viewer or guest? Really?

The thing that makes the Colbert Report so brilliant is that it stopped being merely "fake news show with faux-combative-right-wing host" very shortly after they went on the air.

If that's all you're seeing, I'm not sure what show you're watching. The show is, in fact, constantly clever about current events. And, please, the only people faked out by Colbert are those whose senses of irony and humor have atrophied to the point of non-existence.
posted by sparkletone at 11:35 AM on September 27, 2007


um, "fake news show" refers to TDS, rest refers to Colbert Report.

As to my issues with the fake interviews, that was also in reference to TDS. Surprisingly, Lauren Weedman identified the very episode wherein I identified how much of a hypocrite I was being by laughing at the doofy lobbyist who had no idea the whole interview was insincere. Funny when applied someone I didn't care for, but I sure would have been irritated if it had been someone I was more interested in.

We gave CR a chance when it first came out, and decided we had better things to do with that half hour.

Why would I keep watching something that wasn't interesting to me?

Give me compelling reasons to watch and I may give it another go. Otherwise, fanboys have never swayed me solely by their enthusiasm nor their dismissiveness of other people's right to individual taste, and it won't start now :)
posted by batmonkey at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2007


She's so a victim of Asperger's Syndrome.

Seriously, here is a red flag for me -- that the show apparently has trouble keeping women on the writing/correspondent staff.

I agree that she seems as if she'd be incredibly irritating in person.

But if she's walking into a situation where people (i.e. men) are already nursing some sexism/hostility/whathaveyou, then she's going to sense that the deck is stacked against her, get even more frantic, and end up getting canned, as she did.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2007


jfwlucy wrote:
"But if she's walking into a situation where people (i.e. men) are already nursing some sexism/hostility/whathaveyou, then she's going to sense that the deck is stacked against her, get even more frantic, and end up getting canned, as she did."

I work in a male-dominated field. Any time I'm in a Dev meeting, the deck is stacked waaaaaaay against me. And yet I somehow manage to get through it with my dignity and job intact by being appropriate for the situation.

I understand that she may not have those skills. Hence, why she no longer has that job.

Definitely agree that the Almost-All-White-Male cast/writing crew at TDS is a little too homogenous for me, but I also don't like people being hired simply to fill a quota if they may not be able to meet the bar. The bar should not have to come down to meet the applicant.

Still...there's gotta be some super talented, resilient comic writers who could meet the level required for TDS out there. It'd be neat to see a little more diversity on the show's cast, at minimum. I think diversity in the writer's room could make for some better/less repetitious humour, too.
posted by batmonkey at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2007


um, "fake news show" refers to TDS, rest refers to Colbert Report.

Obviously, but surely Colbert's show is fake news as well? Or at the very least fake news commentary? I know you were referring to TDS with the term, but I think both qualify as fake news shows and was writing as such.

Certainly, if you don't dig the style there's no reason you should watch, but the show has done a lot of frequently-awesome things to expand beyond the initial premise. I mean, how many news shows can you think of have their own parodic space opera?
posted by sparkletone at 1:05 PM on September 27, 2007


“rules for being a comedy writer:
1) be funny
2) dont take it so personally
3) dont try so hard”

Hell, even I could do that. I’m very serious about whatever work I do.
I just don’t want to move out of my town. I suppose that’s part of it. You have to make some sacrifices to do whatever you do, but probably show business more so, and you can go way too far heaping everything on that sacrificial altar, including your dignity and sense of self.
I suppose if I had to do it to put bread on my table that’s something else. Looks like she got lost in a world of her expectations instead of treating it like work.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2007


Yeah, that whole article made me cringe. I wanted to shake her and tell her to shut up, myself.

I would have haaaaaated to work with her. She's one of those people I would have looked at funny and just walked away from.
posted by angeline at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2007


well, that wasn't that funny, but I have to say, it really does sound liike it's not an easy environment for a woman to join. I wonder if a guy with a similar level of humor would have been welcomed and helped out as part of the team, rather than continually tested and scrutinized...

Often in social settings, if one guy makes a joke, even if it's not that good, his buddies will sort of back him up by taking off with it, whereas if an outsider tries the same kind of joke it's eyed suspiciously. It's hard not to think there's something of a vibe there where you're automatically a "buddy" if you fit a certain mold and an "outsider" if you don't - if another white middle aged guy joins TDS (and see their own emmy acceptance speeches re: diversity) and starts off with some silly, slightly nervous attempt at being funny / fitting in, do they all stop playing catch and stare at him uncomfortably? Or do they take it in stride, knowing some jokes hit the mark, some don't, not expecting every comment to be brilliant, but just trying to help the new person relax & adjust?

I mean, she absolutely could have handled things better but I think it's pretty clear they could have, too.
posted by mdn at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


With all the evidence of her social awkwardness she's wittingly and unwittingly shared with us, is it really necessary to try to shoehorn her experience into the Mars/Venus box? I find that reductive, and I think the other women in this thread do too.

TDS has a hard time keeping women on staff because they're first and foremost, hard to come by in comedy writing. Maybe it's the risk-averse thing, I dunno.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2007


No shoehorning here -- she doesn't bring it up herself until a disinterested outsider SPONTANEOUSLY brings it up because it is relevant.

And sexism is just a factor, not a one-size-fits-all answer to what happened there. But I think it's an important unspoken issue.

And by the way, "women = risk-averse" is rather reductive reasoning, isn't it?
posted by jfwlucy at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2007


Maybe it's the risk-averse thing, I dunno.

Maybe it's just a less dramatic risk for men who are going to be accepted into the pack than for women who are going to be looked at skeptically?

If a guy bombs his first night at a comedy club, maybe the guys afterward just pat him on the back and say, hey everyone bombs sometimes, don't worry about it, even jerry seinfeld has bad nights, blah blah blah. But maybe when a woman bombs, they just kind of scrunch up their faces and shrug their shoulders, and mumble to each other about how women never really make good comedians anyway, probably something to do with that gene that makes them risk-averse...
posted by mdn at 3:16 PM on September 27, 2007


With all the evidence of her social awkwardness she's wittingly and unwittingly shared with us, is it really necessary to try to shoehorn her experience into the Mars/Venus box? I find that reductive, and I think the other women in this thread do too.

TDS has a hard time keeping women on staff because they're first and foremost, hard to come by in comedy writing.


Seconded. She was an unprofessional spaz according to her own report. I can't really judge the general office atmosphere because she didn't have much interest in it, other than ignoring it then blaming everyone else for her downfall.
posted by desuetude at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2007


Hey man, I'm not saying women are risk-averse, just that it's been said about women in comparison with men in, like, lots of publicized research. Hopefully the reasoning in the research wasn't "reductive." Even if not, I don't fucking care because I'm a badass skydiving plane-flying drug-taking jungle-hiking toe-stepping loudmouthed feminist, myself. And I wouldn't think my gender had shit to do with my success on TDS or lack thereof, should it ever come up. There's more behind professional gender disparity than anti-female sexism, even at the cultural level, even in jobs as closely tied to the consumption tendencies of the hegemony as comedy writing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:50 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


She's let me know that one of the issues that got in the way of my success on the show was that, though talented, I just wasn't as cute as the other female reporters.

Bull. Shit.

Also, she comes across as being a freaky obsessive who is ruthlessly not funny when interacting with others, and particularly with those who've been in the industry forever and a day.

Little wonder she was canned, and the better off we all are for it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:14 PM on September 27, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur:
What do you mean by consumption tendencies of the hegemony?
posted by RussHy at 5:24 PM on September 27, 2007


She was an unprofessional spaz according to her own report.

She was a comedian! The point is, if a male comedian started out a little nervous and uncomfortable and came out with some "unprofessional spaz"-like attempt at being friendly and/or funny, it's not impossible to imagine that the guys would've taken it as intended, let it slide, and tried to make him comfortable in the new environment, instead of standing back and looking at him like he was nuts.

The whole point about comedy is you have to jump out there and act crazy. Stephen COlbert used to make that point about how the base philosophy of improv comedy is the "yes and" strategy - you never reject someone's attempt; you just expand it and make it better. Sure, they were professionals too, but clearly they were hanging out throwing a football around - it's not ridiculous to think that would be an appropriate time to jump in and act silly.

Look, I'm not trying to say it was intentional - I think there are weird dynamics at play that people are not fully able to control sometimes. But I would bet that there have been other people on the show who've been "unprofessional spazzes" at times. I really doubt that a comedy show is going to be seriously incapable of handling that in principle. And again, this doesn't mean no woman can deal with the atmosphere that's there, or that she shouldn't have been able to, or whatever, but simply that I would bet that guys have an easier time of things.

I think it's often easy to ignore how different things are for other people. If most comedy shows were written & hosted by all women, and guys were usually dismissed as just not being that funny, then the few guys who tried to get into it would probably have a harder time of it, and get scrutinized more, and it would probably create a slightly weird dynamic when they got one spot out of twenty in a big-time show. That is extra pressure, extra scrutiny, and constantly feeling like you're not fitting in - all things that can easily lead you not to be relaxed and at your best, but nervous & dumb sometimes. Even awesome comedians say idiotic things or make really stupid jokes when they're freaking out. I really don't think she put that "squeeze my nipples" anecdote in there as a way to say "wasn't that brilliant?" SHe's making fun of herself. She did something insanely inappropriate in a misguided attempt to be funny because she was nervous.

In a lot of ways, it still is a man's world, and so the risk that men take is not as enormous. It reminds me a bit of the difference of going into something public in london vs. new york. London in many ways still feels like an intimate place, like everyone is somehow part of the same town, even though it's big - but it's ok if you mess up in public, somehow; it's ok if you stumble on stage or get drunk and fall down at the pub - there's a much greater sense of 'well, we're all just people' in my experience. Whereas in america, you are much more Other, distinct & separate from the rest, rather than just part of the common.

ANyway, the point was, a man has a greater comfort with other men, and the public sphere is still heavily male-dominant, and hence he has a greater level of comfort to fuck up in the public sphere. Therefore the original risk is just a lot less intense than for a woman.

*I do not know if this woman is normally funny or not, but I don't think that's the only point here*
posted by mdn at 5:42 PM on September 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


(Granted, I'm talking as white male:) If an attractive woman (and she is) addresses me, pinching her nipples, and making fulsome remarks -- well, that doesn't entice me, that puts me on edge. And I'm not even married!
I've been in that situation and it had me looking for the exits -- a response she describes in detail.
But her self-confessed (almost auto-voyeuristic) article has less to say about office sexual politics than an unfortunate clash of temperaments.
It's also unfortunate that she was released in such a passive-aggressive way, but it is a hive of comedy people. (The stage offers a form of control to people who are not the best at social skills.)
I'd love to write comedy for the Daily Show, but I don't have the chops. Maybe I could join them instead as a facilitator. "Don't try to impress people. Try asking people what they think about the news."
"Kumbia" anyone?
posted by McLir at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2007


RussHy: I mean, basically, what's gonna strike the I get it, I want to buy it nerve for the widest swath of viewers. That discourse is still, at the cultural level, mediated by white male middle class interests who define the ideal viewer/consumer as same. In the it takes one to know one school of thought, there needs to be some sea change to really integrate countercultural forces into mass media in a meaningful way.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:04 PM on September 27, 2007


Let me add that office sexual politics can be a serious factor. I just don't see that as being the main factor in her experience. The Daily Show is pretty homogeneous. But Weedman's experience seemed to, um... transcend those issues.
posted by McLir at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2007


The whole point about comedy is you have to jump out there and act crazy.

Spoken like an audience member.
posted by dreamsign at 8:01 PM on September 27, 2007


I think she basically behaved so inappropriately in so many ways that she basically caused herself to be shunned. She was just plain out freaky.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 PM on September 27, 2007


She is the least funny person who thinks she's funny I've ever encountered.
posted by sneakin at 4:35 AM on September 28, 2007


Clearly her behaviour was inappropriate for the work environment, but it's okay for the Daily Show website to talk about the passion between Stewart and Jon Oliver - "When The Daily Show with Jon Stewart came knocking at his door, John flung it open and jumped into their arms with a relish which made all parties slightly uncomfortable. "
posted by jb at 7:23 AM on September 28, 2007


Spoken like an audience member.

I'm not a comedian, but I have an interest in what you might call the philosophy of comedy, and I've watched or listened to a lot of comedians talk about their work. A very common theme is the notion that you have got to be ready to fall on your ass. Conan O'Brien talks about how he simply knows that half the time the joke is going to fall flat; that is just life, and he just knows to move on. Seinfeld talks about how to hone your material you have to do it live dozens of times and you figure out along the way what works and what doesn't - not by standing alone, talking to the mirror, but by getting out in public and actually doing it. Colbert, like I said above, talks about how the great thing about improv comedy is it gives you a kind of safety net for being completely free to say something totally dumb, because your partner will go with it no matter what, and this is great for comedy, because taking a risk is central to being funny.

You have to be willing to get out there, in public, and fall flat. That is absolutely necessary or you will never be a comedian.
And if the public sphere is an easier place for men to fall on their asses, or if this is the case specifically within the realm of comedy at least, then men have an advantage when entering comedy. That's all I'm saying.
posted by mdn at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2007


Jay Mohr wrote an excellent book about being on Saturday Night Live - much better read than this.
posted by terrortubby at 1:57 AM on October 5, 2007


« Older Taking a cue from Doritos (Frito Lay) which sponso...  |  The Map of Humanity... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments