Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller is 95 today!

I have always loved Phyllis Diller. I grew up with her all over the TV and late night shows. Her comedy was genius -- always making fun of herself, her husband "Fang," and generally taking pot shots at social beauty norms.

Her jokes might seem to be regressive on the surface, but they're really quite subversive. Like Erma Bombeck and, later, Roseanne, she reveled in her supposed inability to be the perfect house wife.
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

It's this kind of humor that helped to take the pressure off many women during the 60s and 70s, and even 80s, letting them laugh at their so-called short-comings.
Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?
And instead of working hard to fit the beauty standards of the day, she went in the opposite direction. It's the classic I know you're going to laugh at me, so I'll really give you something to laugh at approach.

As a child, I loved her wacky sense of humor. I always loved seeing adults breaking the social norms. And Phyllis broke them all to teeny tiny pieces. I still remember her appearance on The Muppet Show.

As an adult, I love how she busted up the notion of how older women were supposed to act or look. By the time I "met" her in the 70s, she was already in her late-50s and early-60s. I love that she's loud, she takes up space, she isn't grandmotherly or dottering. It's like she became my internalized version of me at that age. Well, without the pink and yellow feather dress, of course.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis!


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