Not to be confused with the TNT series (Men of a Certain Age), the “Funny Women of a Certain Age” franchise features, well, funny women telling jokes. And that certain age? It’s 50.
The Gist: For the third consecutive year, comedian Carole Montgomery has produced and co-starred in a stand-up showcase for Showtime. Each successive year for the showcase qualifies it further, from Funny Women of a Certain Age in 2019, to More Funny Women of a Certain Age in 2020, to now Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age.
Teri Hatcher, known for her acting career and not her stand-up comedy chops, tops this year’s installment for both star power and the sheer curiosity that comes with watching an actress as they try their hand at stand-up. Also on the bill this time around: Wendy Liebman, Marsha Warfield, Monique Marvez and Leighann Lord. Montgomery started producing these showcases as a live monthly show in New York City in 2017 when she found comedy club bookers resistant to give her any gigs, despite her just coming off a decade-long stint performing in residency at Las Vegas resorts such as the Luxor and the Riviera.
In the opening sketch, Montgomery jokes the pandemic didn’t cause any delays in putting together special number three. On the contrary: “No! It took forever to find five women in Los Angeles who would admit to being over 50.” Cue Hatcher, who pops into frame: “Carole. You did not tell me I’d have to admit my age.”
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: Do you remember HBO’s Young Comedians specials of the 1980s? This is the complete opposite of that! Instead of young up-and-comers on the rise, we get to see women who’ve already been there, done that, here to remind us they’re still doing it.
Memorable Jokes: Each of the women get at least a dozen minutes to shine.
Montgomery, going first, tackles the topical with a pandemic joke about social distancing, and how men seemed incapable of giving women enough space even before now. Why? “I think it’s cause they never figured out six inches. How the hell are they figuring out six feet?”
Liebman coined a new disease for our times: Amazoneisa. She defined it as receiving a delivery box or boxes, only to wonder: “What did I order?”
Hatcher referenced her infamous 1993 guest-starring role on Seinfeld by letting us know: “Now they’re still real, and I would argue, still spectacular — if you’re attracted to tube socks filled with sand hanging from a scarecrow.” At 56, she proved more than game in telling us too much information about her health and her dating life, or lack of one.
Lord wondered as a black woman how she’s supposed to cope with racism, sexism and now ageism on top of all of that. One trick she did learn, thanks to Black Panther? Saying “Be silent, colonizer.” As Lord revealed: “That’s how I be getting through these Zoom meetings…and that’s how you teach Critical Race Theory.”
If you enjoy crowd work, Marvez has you covered, talking with the men sitting in the front row and calling each of them “little dude.”
Warfield, 67, reflected on coming out as a lesbian only in her 60s, and on Facebook to boot. “Facebook is the 21st century version of sitting in the window yelling at people,” she joked. “Get off my page!”
Our Take: Inside Amy Schumer opened its third season with a sketch, “Last F—able Day,” in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette explain how Hollywood stops thinking of actresses as sexual women by their mid-40s. As Montgomery joked in this showcase, however, everyone is f-able to someone. Likewise, funny people don’t stop being funny when they get old. That’s as true for women as it is for men.
In fact, older comedians have more life experiences to joke about, as well as more perspective to mock the human condition. So when you ask any woman older than 50 to perform on a showcase such as this, it’s not difficult for them to pick out a killer 12-minute set because they already have hours of material they’ve told on the road for years.
That hasn’t stopped Hollywood and show business bookers from overlooking older performers, or from comedy club and streaming platform bookers from bypassing comedians whom they don’t think will appeal to the 18-34 demographic.
It’s a shame.
What Montgomery has pulled off with this franchise is the chance to remind Hollywood that these funny women exist and still have value.
Fran Drescher served as de facto host by opening up the first showcase two years ago. Now Drescher is the president of SAG-AFTRA.
Liebman has been respected and revered by her peers and by audiences for decades. Warfield’s bona fides go back to her co-starring turn as Roz on NBC’s Night Court in the 1980s, and even farther back to her first big break writing and performing on Richard Pryor’s short-lived sketch show in 1977.
Is it a coincidence that the Funny Women of a Certain Age franchise came of age the same year many of us first heard the phrase, “Nevertheless, she persisted”?
Our Call: STREAM IT. All three hours of this franchise are worth your time, and for some of you, worth reminding you funny women have been here for longer than you thought.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.