Woman Comedians: Judd Apatow vs. Jerry Lewis + Critics' Choice Awards

While accepting the award for Best Comedy for Bridesmaids at the 2012 Critics' Choice Awards ceremony, Judd Apatow ended his speech with the following: “Jerry Lewis [photo] once said that he didn't think women were funny. So I'd just like to say, with all respect, fuck you.”

Jerry Lewis' negative comment about female comedians was made at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in 1998. During a Q&A session with Martin Short, Lewis said “I don't like any female comedians.” What about Lucille Ball, Short asked? “No. A woman doing comedy doesn't offend me but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.”

This from the guy who grew up at a time when Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Myrna Loy, Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Patsy Kelly, Glenda Farrell, and others were lighting up the screen in dozens of film comedies of all sorts: romantic, satirical, broad and lowbrow, witty and screwball, you name it. That makes Lewis' comment – unless he was being sarcastic – baffling.

Lewis, I should add, is hardly the only celebrity to have come up with this sort of nonsense. In 2007, the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens wrote a ludicrously reactionary Vanity Fair piece in which he used one of those myriad “scientific studies” to explain women's appreciation for – and lack of – a good sense of humor. Sample: “… [M]y argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.”

The grouchy-looking woman in the photo illustrating Hitchens' article, by the way, is Oscar winner Jane Darwell (The Grapes of Wrath), who was (at least somewhat) humorous roles in Gone with the Wind and Chad Hanna, not to mention Aggie Appleby Maker of Men, in which she plays Wynne Gibson's no-nonsense landlady.

Speeches at the 2012 Critics' Choice Awards ranged from the “family friendly” and socially conscious to the crass and vulgar. As to be expected on such occasions, both God and the American film industry were praised.

Now, who cares about speeches? Well, a lot of people, including the all-important voters in the various guilds and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Well-liked speeches – funny, moving, alternately funny and moving – can help early winners win more awards, especially the Big One. Oftentimes, it's not what's seen on screen that matters, but what's said on the stage. Just ask Sandra Bullock. Or even Mo'Nique.

Best Director winner Michel Hazanavicius, for one, called the French-made Best Picture winner The Artist “a love letter to American cinema.” US-based Academy voters better keep that in mind.

George Clooney, the Best Actor for his role as the head of a dysfunctional, falling-apart family in Alexander Payne's The Descendants, remembered his father, Nick Clooney. “He just said to me, 'If you're not proud of what you're doing, then do it better, or do something else.'” The younger Clooney later added, “I have to say, I am very proud to be in this film.”

After telling everyone of how much effort she put into becoming an actress (“And you know, five hours on the bus going to acting classes when I was 14 years old and coming from very challenging circumstances, I absolutely knew I wanted to be an actor…”), The Help's Best Actress winner Viola Davis thanked (and praised) God for having been born.

Davis then added: “I am absolutely so honored to be in the company of so many women of so many sizes and ages and races, and to be a part of a story that is such an incredible part of American history, to show, you know what, despite the atrocities that have happened in the past, friendship and love can help us find our way.”

Sean Penn, Haiti earthquake, Critics' Choice Awards
Sean Penn and the humanitarians behind him, Critics' Choice Awards

Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners) announced he had discovered a substitute for the Fountain of Youth. “I feel terribly young tonight suddenly,” Plummer told the crowd, “and, at my age, I need all the help I can get in that department.” (Academy members eager for clever acceptance speeches at the Oscars might want to follow the Twitter account of potential Best Supporting Actor contender Albert Brooks – and then vote for him. “Just got home from Critics Choice,” Brooks tweeted last night. “Did not win but beat up Plummer in parking lot and took his award.”)

Despite Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (which shared the Best Cinematography Critics Choice Award with Steven Spielberg's War Horse), Sean Penn isn't truly in contention for any awards this year. That's too bad for him, for Penn's Critics Choice speech was by far the most memorable of the evening. The two-time Oscar winner accepted (via satellite from Haiti) the Broadcast Film Critics Association's Joel Siegel Humanitarian Award for his assistance efforts following Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake:

“I want to thank the example of Joel Siegel and [presenter] George Clooney. And watching the clips of [Music + Film Award recipient] Martin Scorsese's films, I was reminded that great filmmaking is truly a humanitarian act, and the people of Haiti embrace that, and they embrace the work that the committed among you do. And so I'm here as somebody who often says, 'Tell it to a humanitarian.' Many of you know me and know that's the last likely description of me, but it's the absolute description of the people behind me.”

If Penn was the class act of the evening, Judd Apatow was its crass act. While onstage accepting the award for Best Comedy, the Bridesmaids producer remarked: “Jerry Lewis once said that he didn't think women were funny. So I'd just like to say, with all respect, fuck you.”

Apatow clearly isn't worried whether or not his Critics' Choice Awards' acceptance speech will eventually earn him an Oscar. Nor is he worried that Jerry Lewis, 86 next March 16, will come after him. But then again, scratch out the first sentence. Apatow's “fuck you” was greeted by cheers from the audience. Perhaps they thought he was making a political statement vis a vis the current FCC/Supreme Court “obscenity” nonsense? Anyhow, an Oscar for speechmaking remains a possibility.

Now, the biggest disappointment at the Critics' Choice Awards was not seeing Kim Novak (or anyone else, for that matter) handing out the Best Score Award to The Artist's Ludovic Bource.

BEST PICTURE
* The Artist
The Descendants
Drive
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In Darkness
Le Havre
* A Separation
The Skin I Live In
Where Do We Go Now

BEST DIRECTOR
Stephen DaldryExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close
* Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive
Martin Scorsese – Hugo
Steven Spielberg – War Horse

BEST ACTRESS
* Viola Davis – The Help
Elizabeth OlsenMartha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl StreepThe Iron Lady
Tilda SwintonWe Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron – Young Adult
Michelle WilliamsMy Week With Marilyn

BEST ACTOR
* George Clooney – The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprioJ. Edgar
Jean DujardinThe Artist
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Ryan Gosling – Drive
Brad PittMoneyball

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth BranaghMy Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks – Drive
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Patton Oswalt – Young Adult
* Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Andy SerkisRise of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice BejoThe Artist
Jessica ChastainThe Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Carey MulliganShame
* Octavia Spencer – The Help
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
* The Help
The Ides of March

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
50/50 – Will Reiser
* Midnight in ParisWoody Allen
Win Win – Screenplay by Tom McCarthy, Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni
Young Adult – Diablo Cody

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants – Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseEric Roth
The HelpTate Taylor
HugoJohn Logan
* Moneyball – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Buck
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
* George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Project Nim
Undefeated

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
* Rango

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (tie)
The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman
Drive – Newton Thomas Sigel
Hugo – Robert Richardson
* The Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki
* War Horse – Janusz Kaminski

BEST EDITING
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius and Anne-Sophie Bion
Drive – Matthew Newman
* The Girl With the Dragon TattooKirk Baxter and Angus Wall
HugoThelma Schoonmaker
War Horse – Michael Kahn

BEST SCORE
* The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Drive – Cliff Martinez
The Girl With the Dragon TattooTrent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Hugo – Howard Shore
War Horse – John Williams

BEST SONG
“Hello Hello” – performed by Elton John and Lady Gaga. Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin – Gnomeo & Juliet
* “Life's a Happy Song” – performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter. Written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“The Living Proof” – performed by Mary J. Blige. Written by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman and Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas – The Help
“Man or Muppet” – performed by Jason Segel and Walter. Written by Bret McKenzie – The Muppets
“Pictures in My Head” – performed by Kermit and the Muppets. Written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman – The Muppets

BEST ART DIRECTION
The Artist – Production Designer: Laurence Bennett, Set Decorator: Robert Gould
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Production Designer: Stuart Craig, Set Decorator: Stephenie McMillan
* Hugo – Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo
The Tree of Life – Production Designer: Jack Fisk, Set Decorator: Jeanette Scott
War Horse – Production Designer: Rick Carter, Set Decorator: Lee Sandales

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
* The Artist – Mark Bridges
The Help – Sharen Davis
Hugo – Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre – Michael O'Connor
My Week With Marilyn – Jill Taylor

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Hugo
* Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8
The Tree of Life

BEST SOUND
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Hugo
Super 8
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST MAKEUP
Albert Nobbs
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Iron Lady
J. Edgar
My Week With Marilyn

BEST ACTION MOVIE
* Drive
Fast Five
Hanna
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8

BEST COMEDY
* Bridesmaids
Crazy Stupid Love
Horrible Bosses
Midnight in Paris
The Muppets

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Asa Butterfield – Hugo
Elle Fanning – Super 8
* Thomas Horn – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Ezra Miller – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Saoirse RonanHanna
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

JOEL SIEGEL AWARD
Sean Penn

MUSIC + FILM AWARD
Martin Scorsese

 

Jerry Lewis quote: People Magazine

Other quotes via E!Online.

Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain: More U.S. Critics Winners

The Nevada Film Critics Society, not to be confused with the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, has announced its Best of 2011 list. Martin Scorsese's period adventure fantasy Hugo was voted Best Picture. Scorsese was the Best Director and Asa Butterfield the Best Child Actor.

The Best Actor and Best Actress choices were the Nevada Critics' biggest surprises: the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy was selected as the Best Actor for his performance as a boxer in the little-seen Warrior. Jessica Chastain has been winning awards everywhere, but in the Best Supporting Actress category. The Nevada Critics chose her as the year's Best Actress “for her outstanding work in several films of 2011 including The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter.”

With Chastain out of the way, the Best Supporting Actress Award went to Janet McTeer for her butch lesbian in Albert Nobbs. Albert Brooks was cited for his work as a mean gangster in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive.

Tate Taylor's sleeper hit The Help won for Best Ensemble (in addition to Chastain, the film's cast includes Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, and Cicely Tyson). Rooney Mara (for her Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Elizabeth Olsen (for her problematic character in Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene) tied for the Best Breakthrough Performance of 2011. Chris Miller's Puss in Boots, featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, was the Best Animated Feature. Curiously, the Nevada Critics don't hand out award for Best Foreign Language Film.

If you hadn't heard of the Nevada Film Critics Society, don't despair. They're a brand new (and apparently quite small) group, founded last year. Below is the full list of the Nevada Critics' choices.

Via Awards Daily

Tom Hardy/Joel Edgerton/Warrior photo: Lionsgate Films

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  1. Douglas says:

    I'm sorry, but Hitchens peice was far from reactionary. He was making a point — a valid one, I shoud add: women don't need to be funny to impress men.

    The amount of rebuke this peice has recieved is beyond me. Most expose themselves as never having read his article by what they say about it.

    And also, let us be honest, Hitchens is right. There are more bad women comedians than men. And, there are more talented male comedians than women, or atleast, more well known ones.

    Let's look at TV today. I would, anyday, prefer the main cast of Two and a Half Men, over that Whitney Cummings show (Whitney I think?). This of course isn't meant to be a praise of the former, which I find rather boring.

    Or how about Russell Peters VS Sara Silvermen (sp?). Need I even suggest the obvious?

    Or how about those actors (or, if you like, actresses) from Bridesmaid (would not knowing their name prove my point)? Pin them next to any Ben Stiller movie . . . or any male dominated comedy (A Will Ferrell movie), and not only when the masses go to the latter, but the main attraction won't be the overweight extra.

    I can alreay hear the responses . . . sexist, msygosdskldj . . . .

  2. SWH says:

    There are many "reactionary" attitudes to women relating to their place in the family, workspace and society. But in what conceivable way is it "reactionary" to say that women aren't as funny as men?