There's gotta be at least one person
March 4, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

There are plenty of male impressionists who impersonate female celebrities/politicians, or who put on a dress to play a female character. Help me find the female comedians who impersonate men.

I'm a female in a sketch comedy group, and my main/favorite impressions are of Putin and Jason Mraz. I was told a few days ago that's it off putting and "not funny" when a female impersonates a male, which I thought was a bunch of misogynistic crap; but I wonder.. is this totally unprecedented? Are there any other female comedians who mimic men? Youtube links, names, or just vague recollections are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
posted by oxfordcomma to Society & Culture (27 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Lucille Ball playing Harpo Marx.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:15 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Catherine Tate did a male character on her sketch show.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:18 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maria Bamford! One of my absolute favorites. She does a number of voices/characters in her act, some of whom are males.

For instance, check out episode 12 of "The Maria Bamford Show", where she plays a pastor-husband of a coworker, starting at about 01:17. She plays other guys in other episodes of the show, including her dad, a guy she used to go to high school with, and a guy she goes on a blind date with.

(In her onstage standup she doesn't do the costumes, just the voices/demeanor, but in The Maria Bamford Show she has costumes and props.)
posted by theatro at 6:21 PM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

You want drag kings.
posted by mykescipark at 6:22 PM on March 4, 2012

French & Saunders did a few "old men" sketches, and even older... The Krankies.
posted by dirm at 6:25 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-Il?
posted by steinsaltz at 6:25 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know if you'd count her as a 'comedian', but Carrie Brownstein impersonates a man in several comedy segments in Portlandia.
posted by Hither at 6:27 PM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tracey Ullman has performed a number of male characters over the years. Here's the first video that came up in a search.
posted by Lexica at 6:29 PM on March 4, 2012

If you need a super-mainstream argument against this misogynistic crap, Amy Poehler definitely did this on her run of SNL. The main one I remember was that she played Dennis Kucinich during the election but it was definitely not the only time.
posted by SoftRain at 6:35 PM on March 4, 2012

30 Helens, a Vancouver, BC, sketch group, used to do a bunch of male characters, including a killer Bob Ross. They were fucking hilarious.
posted by looli at 6:40 PM on March 4, 2012

I have a huge gigantic crush on Elvis Herselvis.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lily Tomlin has male characters in her repertoire. And it's damn funny.
posted by donnagirl at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2012

Also: my vote is for misogynistic crap.

(I mean, of course, it's possible that you are not funny, but the idea that no woman can do a male impression is bullshit.)
posted by looli at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2012

Kathy and Mo (Kathy Najimy, Mo Gaffney) and Whoopi Goldberg did male characters as part of their acts. Someone used to do a great George Burns, too... Andrea Martin, maybe?
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:54 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Topp Twins!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:07 PM on March 4, 2012

Iris Gambol beat me to it, but I was just going to add Kathy and Mo, and the George Burns impression that I'm remembering was done by Louise DuArt.

I'm pretty sure Rachel Dratch had a couple of recurring male characters on SNL, too.
posted by camyram at 7:09 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Marga Gomez does male characters in several of her shows.

And yeah, misogynistic crap.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:14 PM on March 4, 2012

Everything is weird and off-putting when no one's done it before. Especially in comedy. Weird and off-putting and new are the point of comedy. If people are put off by your weird Putin impression, fucking own that. Make it part of the impression.
posted by Etrigan at 7:18 PM on March 4, 2012

Mary Walsh did a recurring male character called Dakey Dunn on This Hour Has 22 Minutes but I'm not finding any video samples of it.
posted by zadcat at 7:22 PM on March 4, 2012

Your co-performers are acting like massive, massive douchebags.

Whoopi Goldberg won the Drama Desk Award for her 1985 one-person show of which the highlight was her amazing turn as Fontaine, a male drug user and off-beat philosopher. It was fucking hilarious as well as sad and insightful and just everything. Fontaine: Why Am I Straight? is available as a DVD and a CD. Incredible.

Tracy Ullman played lots of male characters. So did Kathy Naijimy and Mo Gaffney. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Both Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara played male characters on SCTV. Nora Dunn and Julia Sweeney played male characters on SNL, as did Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. Sarah Silverman plays male characters occasionally. Carrie Brownstein has already been mentioned. Women play men in shows at Second City and the Groundlings all the time.

So basically, your co-performers are totally out of touch with the entire history of comedy in English, not to mention serious drama--hello, Anna Deveare Smith and Sarah Bernhardt and everyone who ever played Peter Pan and...oh, fuck it, maybe you need to find new people to perform with if they're that incompetent and ill-versed in the medium.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:24 PM on March 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Expanding beyond comedy, opera has had "breeches roles" for centuries, in which male characters are performed by female singers. For example, Nicklausse in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman is sung by a mezzo-soprano. And Shakespeare did a lot of that put-female-characters-in-men's-clothing stuff, but in his day actors were all men so it's not exactly women impersonating men but hey, mentioning Shakespeare always classes up the joint.
posted by Quietgal at 8:16 PM on March 4, 2012

Rachel Dratch was the first person who came to mind - she had a few recurring male characters on SNL. (including Sheldon from Wake Up Wakefield and Abe Scheinwald)
posted by SisterHavana at 8:18 PM on March 4, 2012

Mindy Kaling got discovered for her show where her and her partner played Matt (Damon) & Ben (Affleck). I get the feeling they weren't straight up impersonations, however.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:47 PM on March 4, 2012

How did I forget Matt and Ben? Mindy Kaling did a fairly generic "guy" as Matt Damon, but Brenda Withers did a pretty specific Ben Affleck impersonation. She also did a riff as J.D. Salinger that was hilarious, if more like George Plimpton than Salinger himself.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:06 AM on March 5, 2012

Murray Hill is awesome and well known on the lower east side performance scene.

You might also be interested in Tipping the Velvet, which is about women performing as men around the turn of the century, and Tina Fey on not fucking caring if they don't like it because it's not "cute."
posted by Concordia at 1:10 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agree on the douchebag front.

It's very easy to get a cheap laugh out of dressing up like a woman and shrieking - Monty Python are to blame for that trend. It's difficult for a man to do this well. Most of the time, a man dressing up as a woman isn't really funny beyond the 'ooh, look, I'm in drag' factor - there needs to be something more than the costume going on. As a woman, I find it really tiresome when people forget the latter. The League of Gentlemen did it well, because there was something to the character that was more than just a cheap laugh, or the suggestion that the male actor dressed up as a female because they couldn't be bothered to hire a female actor - they were good performances. That's all you need for an impression or character to work.

And here's a brilliant example of a woman playing a teenage boy - Kathy Burke as Perry.

I think a send up of Jason Mraz would be fucking hilarious done by a woman.
posted by mippy at 8:11 AM on March 6, 2012

Actually, this is what Perry looks like (about a minute in)
posted by mippy at 8:13 AM on March 6, 2012

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