I was a busy kid, but I somehow fit in a lot of TV. Sometime in the early nineties our cable company started carrying Comedy Central. I consumed it in masses.
Back then the channel had Politically Incorrect, some stand-up clip shows, Kids in the Hall, and what seemed like a loop of the same three movies (Three Amigos, Top Secret, and Soul Man). The specials I liked I would watch over and over again (and they would rerun them a lot).
I remember having Dennis Miller’s Black or White special memorized. Paula Poundstone had two specials I watched over and over. There was 1992’s “Cats, Cops, and Stuff” and 1996’s “Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard.” I still remember jokes from each special.
At that age I never really analyzed anything by gender. Looking back she was the first female comedian I really connected with. I talked to some of the performers of LAFF to see which female comedian first enchanted them –
Julie Gillis – LAFF Producer
My first memory of a female comic was Lucille Ball. I used to watch I Love Lucy and I remember the vitavitavegimin and the chocolate ball routines a lot. I also watched a lot of Laugh In and loved the ladies on that show (it had a seriously queer tone to it, so I think that was a big influence).
I also remember being really inspired by Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman from SNL back in the day.
Kaci Beeler – Adventure Squad
I remember being very impressed and intrigued by Molly Shannon back when she was on SNL (I was 8 when she started and 14 when she left the show). She created such vibrant and fun characters and always had a sort of positive spin in her performances. You could tell she really loved the work and was having a great time in the sketches.
Liz Brammer – Sarah 7
The first time I saw the movie Clue, I was completely hooked on Madeline Kahn. I still adore her performance! I can appreciate a lot more of the subtlety now than I did then. In all her movies from that era, she catches my eye – Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Paper Moon. She is so quiet and refined, and her timing is impeccable.
Selena Coppock – Stand-up and LAFF Alumni
I can’t recall if it was exactly the FIRST, but Ellen Cleghorne on Saturday Night Live was so hilarious to me when I was a kid. My whole family was addicted to SNL and I started watching when I was 7 or 8. There were so many amazing women on that show who knocked my socks off: Nora Dunn, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson. Ellen Cleghorne came after them, but she blew me away with her timing and attitude. She had this great physicality and facial expressions that really spoke to me (as I am a bit of a rubber face).