chapter  6
Feminist Humor and Change
Pages 21

A HALF CENTURY OF WOMEN’S SOLO PERFORMANCE COMEDY REVEALS significant changes, a progression marked by the contrast between Diller’s description of her entertainment as “pure fun,” and Kate Clinton’s description of her contemporary stand-up as “serious.” Clinton’s phrase, the “changing of the shoreline,” becomes visible in the work of Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, feminists whose comedy envisions a culture which equally values men and women, a culture which Tomlin observed is far from the current one: “The entire culture is built as a support system for men and men’s values. One of those values is that women are providers and accommodate to the system. We really should be developing a system that values men and women equally” (qtd. in Judge 16). Likewise, Roseanne turned the persona she had developed in her stand-up into one of the most influential television personalities of the ‘80s and ’90s. She felt that her show Roseanne! was primarily about changing women’s lives: “I intended to change the way women thought of themselves, and our children and our relationships. I had great passion for this message. I feel like I was the woman for the times. I got to be a woman who carries that torch” (qtd. in Mansfield 6).