Judd Apatow lounged at the back of the "Bridesmaids" premiere the other night and gamely entertained the question of why women aren’t funny. (Question not loaded at all.)
“It’s the glory days for female comedy right now,” he observed. “At 'Saturday Night Live,' the women have dominated the show for almost 10 years at this point... I mean, the women who get fired from SNL are brilliant! Seriously!”
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Generous words from the guy who wrote the quintessentially male “Forty-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” But he also produced “Bridesmaids”: Written by Kristen Wiig, co-starring Maya Rudolph and a bunch of other females -- and very very funny.
The most memorable scene in the movie is one that nearly got cut: The bridesmaids, of which Kristen Wiig is one, go for Brazilian food, then head out to try on wedding dresses and gowns. Then they start to get sick. (Spoiler alert ahead.)
Rudolph is dressed in an expensive, huge wedding dress. In a panic, she rushes out into traffic, sinks to the pavement and -- yes, she does do it in the street.
The scene nearly got cut for going too far and for Rudolph's character being, at that moment, wildly unladylike. Would it turn off the audience?
“We all debated if it was too far,” said Apatow. “I just said to Kristen, ‘If it works we’ll keep it, if it doesn’t work there’s no need for it in the story.‘ I wanted her to really go for it. And I thought it was important that 4 or 5 times in the movie that the place would go completely shithouse.
“So I always wanted everyone to go, ‘Let’s take big chances, but we’ll shoot the movie in such a way that anything that we’re ashamed of we can cut.’”
To remind you: I’m canvassing people to find out why women are either congenitally not humorous, or whether this is a nefarious libel that guys are perpetrating.
Either way, it came up again on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, when the funny-though-female Tina Fey did a skit about historically amusing women writers. (Jane Austen. Virginia Woolf. Do funny women have to be ugly? Or see themselves as ugly? A question for another day.)
Apatow explained that ‘"Bridesmaids" was a five-year flopsweat project in which Wiig, with his input, labored to figure out what the movie was about at its core.
It’s about women and the overburdened expectations they put on themselves. OK: now how is that funny?
“We debated it and grinded on it for years, how to make it more than just a collection of jokes,” he said. “So there were many times where we said, ‘Well, what is this really about? What do you want to say about women and, you know, all of the expectations they deal with?’ And it was years of really thinking deeply about it.”
But that take-a-dump-in-the-street scene will be a classic. Akin to Ben Stiller’s penis-in-the-zipper scene in “Something About Mary.” For the ages.
“The reason why it’s funny is that you’re not admitting that it’s your fault. That you couldn’t afford to take them to a good restaurant and you don’t want anyone to know. So it’s more about Kristen trying not to get sick, and everything else is the accent to her shame at being a bad maid of honor. But those girls are so unique that what they do with it is what’s remarkable.”
Special mention to Melissa McCarthy, who nearly steals the whole show.
Go see the thing. It opens Friday.