Showtime’s new comedy special “Funny Women of a Certain Age” features all female comics over the age of 50, which may seem unique, but that’s the point. Carole Montgomery has been in the comedy game for decades and wanted a show that highlighted talent from women who truly deserve the spotlight. Montgomery is well aware of the stigma against women in comedy, especially women of a certain age. But the seasoned comedian is unafraid of showcasing those stigmas on stage; in fact, she thinks it’s necessary. Montgomery hopes this stand-up show will go on for years, rotating a different cast of women who all deserve to be onstage no matter what age they are. Montgomery sat down with Metro to talk about the show, some high and low points in her career, and why the comedy world desperately needs a female makeover.
Where did the idea for “Funny Women of a Certain Age” come from?
Well, I was doing a podcast a couple of years ago with a bunch of my friends who were all women, I think all over 50. We spent the time laughing and having such a good time telling road stories and war stories, you know, from years ago. I was coming home on the subway and I remember thinking, I want to work with my friends and I want to have fun. I’m 60 years old, I don’t need to work with a 20-year-old guy who just moved out from his mother’s basement — I just want to work with my friends. So I told my husband, we started talking about the idea and I thought, you know what? It’s not even just the war stories and working with the friends. These are all great, funny, strong women who for whatever reason didn’t get that big break or they’re not world-famous. But they are still some of the best female comics you’re ever gonna see. So what happened was, we got really lucky because we got to premiere at a small comedy festival called the Cinderblock Comedy Festival. And from there, someone at the festival said they work at the Kraine Theater on the Lower East Side and they thought their boss would love this. So that turned into a residency.
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How did you choose the talented cast?
You know what, if only I could show you the list of people I had. A lot of it had to do with availability and who could do the show. What a lot of people forget, especially with people who are unknown, [is] they are just out there working all of the time. So there were people we approached and they couldn’t do it because they had a private gig that night or they were doing a corporate show or working on a cruise ship and couldn’t get flown out. Vanessa and Terry and Lyn are all old friends of mine, so that was a no-brainer. Luenell I love and we knew each other from years ago in California — I’ve always loved her. Then, of course, Fran Drescher is an icon. We wanted to have a big name and we were lucky enough to get her.
Do you believe there is still a stigma regarding female comedians today?
Absolutely. A lot of what the show is about involves these stories we tell about what it’s like to be a woman involved in comedy. That’s one of the things I’m really proud about: I wanted people to know that we have been doing this since back in the day. Now there’s a lot of girls, which I’m thrilled about, but back when I started, if there were a dozen female comics working, there would always just be one woman on a show. It’s changing a little bit and I’m hoping the show will have something to do with that because what’s always fascinating about bookers is that they will always say, “Oh, we can’t have two women on a show because they talk about the same thing.” Which is like, really? Then you have male comics doing material about whatever — being married or being a dad — but that’s okay. But for some reason, women couldn’t possibly have different ideas.
Overall, what can people expect from the show?
Overall, this is a no-holds-barred point of view from people who have seen it all and done it all. That’s the real takeaway from this. You’re going to laugh. Even people who say they don’t like female comics, you’re going to laugh. If it’s not one of us, it’s another one of us. There is something for everyone in this special.