It's true: Females are funny — and StandUp in Stilettos is about to prove it.
The new half-hour series from TV Guide Network, premiering Saturday at 10/9c, features three comediennes per show. And no, it's not just for females to watch. In fact, men will enjoy it just as much... if not more! Hosted by The Office's Kate Flannery, Stilettos boasts a familiar array of funny ladies, including 24's Mary Lynn Rajskub, Parks and Recreation's Retta and infamous comedy duo Frangela. We talked to Flannery about how women have changed comedy, what she says to people who think females can't be funny and why she doesn't believe next year will be the last season of The Office.
What made you want to get involved with Stilettos?
Kate Flanney: I thought it was a great idea. I also think that what's nice about the show is that there's so many female comedians that people have seen in other things and maybe didn't know they had an act. It's a great showcase.
What do you say to people who say women can't be funny?
Flannery: That's a really old-fashioned idea. I feel like people are funny, and women are people, so I'm sick of the distinction. When I was in Second City, I remember the men always outnumbered the women. They used to only allow one woman per cast there and then they added two. When I got there, it was right when they were doing two women. Of course it's easy for the women to be wives, girlfriends and mothers and all that stuff too, but they're also just people. Everyone's comedy is about their life and that's what makes it real and that's what makes it funny. I feel like the idea that women aren't funny is over.
It's true because even looking at NBC, there are plenty of funny ladies, including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Women are taking over the Thursday night comedy block.
Flannery: Totally. Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate too. That's absolutely true. I think Tina Fey changed SNL because SNL was very backward in that way too. They would rather put Chris Farley and Adam Sandler in drag than have two women do a skit. It's nice to see the things that were stuck in those old male traditions are shifting and changing.
Who were some of your comedy icons?
Flannery: I was a big fan of SCTV. Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara, I feel like they've really changed the game in many ways because they have done movies, but they've not been necessarily the main character in the movie, but they've been in our consciousness for so long. Of course, I'm a huge fan of Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore and even Lucille Ball. I feel like there's always been funny women and whether the guys acknowledge it or not, they've been there. All those women that I mentioned have had as many male fans as female fans.
What was it like having all of the female comics around during Stilettos? Were you all taking tips from one another or riffing on one another?
Flannery: Everyone was actually excited because everybody had to look good. You got to be yourself, you're not doing a character, you're doing yourself. You get to wear a cute dress, some heels, some makeup and some decent lighting. That's always a pleasure. Obviously I've gone out of my way in my career to not look good, so it's always nice to, every once in a while, get the opposite going. [Laughs] I think everyone was excited to see each other and there are so many people I know just from different walks in my life. I was so excited that Mary Lynn Rajskub got to do the show, Arden Myrin, she does Chelsea Lately, Frangela. I was like, "Oh my God, this is so great." This is just a nice opportunity for all of us to do something different together.
Because of that camaraderie, was this easier to do than normal stand-up?
Flannery: Absolutely. It felt like everybody was just hoping that it would go well. Everybody was rooting for each other. It's great to be in that positive space. All the women worked really hard. I love that there are three stand-ups per show in a half-hour; that's a lot of comedy. Everybody's bringing their A game. It's not like they're doing a weird, watered-down version. I don't think it's going to be like some weird female contest. I think it just happens to be women who are on the show.
It's not like you guys are all sitting there making stereotypical jokes.
Flannery: Right. This isn't one big Cathy cartoon or something like that. [Laughs]
Turning towards The Office, can we hope to see Meredith back next season?
Flannery: Oh yeah, absolutely. I can't wait.
How do you respond to people who say The Office is on its way out?
Flannery: I don't see us going anywhere. There's just so much more to explore and I feel like anybody that works in an office knows that there's a neverending supply of office stories. I think our audience will share that. We've only just scratched the surface. There are a few shows that have gone for a long time and I think we have that potential.
StandUp in Stilettos premieres Saturday with two back-to-back episodes starting at 10/9c on TV Guide Network.
Will you be watching?