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Laughing Matters
Laughing Matters
Actors: Kate Clinton, Karen Williams, Marga Gomez, Suszanne Westenhoefer, Susanne Westenhoefer
Director: Andrea Meyerson
Genres: Comedy, Gay & Lesbian
UR     2004     2hr 0min

The lives, onstage and off, of four charismatic lesbian stand-up comedians--Kate Clinton, Marga Gomez, Suzanne Westenhoefer, and Karen Williams--are captured in Laughing Matters. Through interviews, old photographs, and...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Kate Clinton, Karen Williams, Marga Gomez, Suszanne Westenhoefer, Susanne Westenhoefer
Director: Andrea Meyerson
Genres: Comedy, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Wolfe Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/06/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Permanences: lesbian comics
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 01/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This format is becoming very popular and formulaic. Four comics from the same oppressed identity group perform standup on the same videotape or DVD. First came black men, then came black women, Latino men, and working-class white men. In this tape, lesbian comics take the torch. So I was wondering why didn't the artists name this "Lesbian Queens of Comedy" like the title "(Black Male) Kings of Comedy." If Larry the Cable Guy and his buddies made "Blue Collar Comedy Tour", then why not call this project "Labrys Comedy Tour" or something?

What I found out was that this comedy tour was different. Instead of just having the comics do their entire routines and then passing the mike. This DVD cuts between the various comediennes telling one or two jokes at a time. BET's "Comic View" often uses this same format. In this work, however, the women are also interviewed talking about their girlhoods, families, and lives as openly lesbian comics.

Melissa Etheridge makes a quick guest appearance. It's practically like no lesbian art can get produced without her stamp of endorsement. On the Ellen coming-out episode, she and Ellen laughed saying, "Now that you are out, you get a free toaster." In so many ways, Melissa, as much as I love her, has become that free toaster. She even stares into the camera with a "Okay, am I done now?" type of look.

This work is more about life as a lesbian comic than the comedy itself. I think the purpose is to encourage more lesbian comics to come out more than just to entertain any person who happens to rent or buy the tape. In their interviews, the comics talk about sexism and homophobia in the comedy circuit. Surprisingly, each comic said that as much as they love Ellen DeGeneres, doors shut after she came out. The media only wanted one lesbian comic. Though these women had been performing for years, they were instantly dismissed as "Ellen imitators." Progressives of all genders and sexualities will want to hear about this.

There is the huge theme of permanence and continuity in this work. All the comics say they have been out in their careers forever. They have been in the business for ages. They all had girlfriends since way, way, way back when. They all came from families with entertaining relatives. They even show a photo of the four artists from a decade ago. They even show that Marga Gomez has had that huge gap in her teeth forever. I'm not sure why the producers of this tape definitely wanted to send the message "This is how it's always been!"

Sometimes the interviews with the comics are funnier than their standup routines. At times, you can't even hear what Susan Westhoefer is saying. Kate Clinton is cut! She must work out hard in the gym. The tape only reveals the highly sexual or highly political jokes toward the end.

I have mixed feelings in a way. I loved seeing Marga Gomez at a San Francisco comedy club years ago. I loved how she was the gay community's comedic secret. So there's a way in which personal idols are being taken into the mainstream by this tape. However, each comedienne is incredibly talented and this work will make all types of viewers ask, "Why aren't these women getting more jobs and exposure in Hollywood!?"

In many ways this tape is meant to say, "There's more than just Ellen." In expansion, "there's more than just Ellen, Rosie, and Lea DeLaria." These women are great and this was amusing to watch."
Too good to be true
queer movie lover | 07/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Strap your boots on and let these four ground-breaking, hilarious lesbian comedians take you for a ride. Kate Clinton, Karen Williams, Marga Gomez, and Suzanne Westenhoefer star in this well-made documentary that alternates between brilliant interviews and on-stage clips from their stand-up shows.

Both the interviews and the clips will leave your belly aching from laughter and your eyes opened to the political and humorous landscape of lesbian stand-up in the 80s and 90s, also known as the pre-Ellen Degeneres years. These women were and are
true revolutionaries. Their only tools? Being queer and making people laugh about being queer. And their
brilliant.

Gay, straight, man, woman, anyone: this film is not only politically educational and inspiring, it's simply hilarious.

"