In the past few years, I’ve watched women sing about period sex, brag about losing three pounds from diarrhea, rap about her best friend’s “broken pussy,” have a homeless man spit in her mouth, be told to lose weight at an audition for “2 Girls 1 Cup,” and yell “This is the happiest day of my life!” at their grandmother’s shiva after their non-romantic soul mate fulfills their shared dream of pegging a dude. A golden age of female body humor is upon us — a comedy epoch that I hope never ends. For millennia, the female figure has been observed, evaluated, and mythologized by men. But today, a great many shows explore what it feels like to inhabit a girl or woman’s body, with all its appetites and expulsions, pleasures and discomforts, excesses and practicalities. As much as we’re sometimes loath to admit it, our bodies are ourselves.
In celebration of the daughters of Portnoy who’ve gone spelunking for humor in every crack and crevice, we’re devoting this month to the search for TV’s queen of body comedy. Each of these female characters is unique and important in their own way, but in the spirit of healthy competition, we’d like to crown one as the girl or woman who best encapsulates existence in a (biologically) female body. To that end, we ask for your help in finding the pop-culture icon who most understands that our bodies are a playground and a freak show, a wonderland and a wayward factory.
Thanks to everyone who voted last week! Please continue to guide our quest for the queen of body comedy by voting in each of the polls below. Answers will be tabulated by 5 p.m. PST on Wednesday, March 22.
1. The Haters in Hell Bracket: 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) vs. Inside Amy Schumer’s Various Amys (Amy Schumer)
Liz: One of the biggest reasons why Liz Lemon is so relatable — and perhaps why she handily defeated The Mindy Project’s Mindy Lahiri in a 2-1 margin last week — is that she’s uncomfortable anywhere that isn’t under a fart-filled Slanket. No female character is as repressed yet hyperaware of her own stilted anatomy as Liz. Her eyes roll so often they sometimes get stuck up there. Her lips are slick with pizza grease. Her skin: “The Clinique lady says I have witch undertones.” Her sex parts: excuse me, it’s called “the bathing-suit area.” To be Liz is to run around all day in search of a moment of ease — only to realize that even when she’s got a second to herself, she’s never going to feel good in her own body.
Liz’s bonus quote: "God, three weddings in one day. I'm going to be in Spanx for 12 hours. My elastic line is gonna get infected again.”
Amy: If Liz Lemon’s only comfort zones are low-grade misanthropy and chronic disappointment, the fictional Amys in Inside Amy Schumer rarely venture outside their own self-hatred. The Amys beat out Catastrophe’s Sharon Morris by a mile in the last round, which shouldn’t be surprising — Schumer’s sex- and shame-centric comedy has clearly struck a nerve. The iconic “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup” is perhaps Inside’s best dissection of the contradictory messages that make us feel bad about ourselves: We fail at convincing ourselves we’re beautiful just the way we are, then we’re told we were right to feel bad about how we look all along. Few things are as frequently or as ruthlessly compared to an abstract ideal as the female body — an observation that Schumer expertly satirizes, this time without the self-loathing, in the Cosmo parody “Sex Tips.”
Amy’s bonus quote: “What if you take a pumice stone, and you hold it over an open flame for, like, an hour, and then you gently grate it up and down his shaft?”
2. The Lascivious Innocents Bracket: Bob’s Burgers’s Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz) vs. Broad City’s Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer)
Tina: There’s more than a touch of naïveté to Tina Belcher’s ardor for butts and the boys they’re attached to. But you’ve gotta give it up for someone so Edenic and optimistic that they declare, “If you think about it, any box could have vibrators in it.” As awkward as Tina is IRL (almost as much as her former competitor, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rebecca Bunch), the teenager is wondrously attuned and open to all the things she imagines her body might do one day. If only we could all return to the days when we could lose ourselves in our instincts and some erotic friend fiction.
Tina’s bonus quote: “If he has a butt for touching and lips for kissing, I’m into that.”
Ilana: Maybe growing up — in a wonderfully uneven way — doesn’t have to be the worst. Like Girls’s Hannah Horvath, her challenger last week, Ilana Wexler may not have a steady job, a committed partner, or probably even $80 in her checking account. But who needs any of that when you’ve got a best friend (with the “ass of an angel,” natch) and treat your body like an amusement park? There’s the cartoon characters she was sexually attracted to as a child (Stimpy for Ilana, Tramp from The Lady and the Tramp for Abbi). There’s, um, the rides. There’s even a locker for weed: “The vagina is nature’s pocket.” We can’t help loving Ilana because she has no limits on her lust for adventure, up to and including going down a manhole (not the pegging kind) like a Super Mario brother in search of treasure.
Ilana’s bonus quote: “Nose, vagina, butthole: if God didn't want us to put our fingers in there, then why did she make them perfectly finger-sized?”