Reese Witherspoon is gracing the cover of January’s Glamour and claims “There’s always going to be somebody younger or sexier. That’s why I like to say, and it’s become my famous line, ‘Funny doesn’t sag.’”
Oh, goodness. Where to begin on that?
Well, first of all, really, Reese? This is going to be your line? Really? The way Louis XIV’s was “l’etat c’est moi?” Or Patrick Henry’s was “give me liberty or give me death?” Or Oscar Wilde’s was like, everything (who was it that said “I never seek to take the credit, we all assume that Oscar said it?” Almost certainly Dorothy Parker, whose line was also everything).
Okay. Your line is going to be “funny doesn’t sag.” You’re running all over Hollywood saying that. You are hanging out at a table at The Ivy declaring that to everyone. Okay. You made Legally Blonde and I really, really like Penelope. I guess you get a free pass on stuff like this.
And, well that’s true. On a strictly literal level, that line is true. Funny doesn’t sag. Because character traits are not things that sag. You know what else doesn’t sag? Compassion. Or immorality. Or mendacity. Really, any character trait you can think of – though I suppose that might be a sad commentary on how we never truly change, much though we might want to. If only our fiendishness could sag like jowls, leaving something softer and gentler and infinitely more flexible. But it is not to be, because we all are who we are. Well. You might be getting at something there, Reese Witherspoon.
However, if your point is that you can keep doing funny roles no matter how old you are then I guess my response is just going to be: hahahahahahahahahaha. Hahaha, you sweet, naive woman.
Now, there are certainly female comedians of whom that’s true. Think of Thelma Ritter. Rosanne. Paula Poundstone. No one really cares how old those women are, because they are simply know for being funny, not funny-sexy.
But those women do not get the starring roles in major movies. They get minor roles. They do not get to bop along in movies like How Do You Know? and try to figure out if they belong with Paul Rudd or Owen Wilson. Because those roles go to women who are sexy-funny. Women like, say Marilyn Monroe. Goldie Hawn. Women like you, Reese Witherspoon. Women like you.
By the way, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Funny-sexy is awesome. More women should be funny-sexy. But if you think you’ll be doing these roles once you start sagging, you are out of your mind. You could have made a more compelling point if you’d said “drama doesn’t sag” because, really, those are the roles you get to play once you sag, unless you are Meryl Streep, who spent her entire youth appearing in incredibly serious movies and now just gets to be in Mamma-Mia because that’s how the universe works, I guess. Actually, the best point would have been “holocaust drama doesn’t sag,” because you truly can do those roles forever, and the more haggard you look the better. But that is, perhaps, not a sensitive thing to say.