Melissa McCarthy Says Female Comedy Got Off Track For A While

Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party
(Image credit: (Warner Bros.))

With the amount of comedy hits Melissa McCarthy has lead through the past few years, one can confidently say the actress is one of the most successful women in the genre right now. She's headlined one gut-busting movie after the other, including The Heat, Identity Thief, Spy and Tammy, and will have had three releases as this year comes to a close. McCarthy struck comedy gold with 2011's Bridesmaids, but the actress recently opened up about how her initial entry into the industry wasn't what she expected it to be. In her words:

I have to say, I watched Jane Curtin, and Gilda Radner, and Carol Burnett, and Madeline Kahn. I always felt like they paved the way. I think we got off track for a while where it was like, 'Hey, where are those parts that I grew up watching?

Throughout Melissa McCarthy's childhood, there were female comedians who defined their time and inspired McCarthy to become one herself. Carol Burnett gained prominence in the late '60s with her hilarious sketch comedy show The Carol Burnett Show, Gilda Radner became an iconic part of Saturday Night Live's early days and Madeline Kahn starred in Mel Brooks classics such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, among other endeavors. But when McCarthy entered the game, the genre was saturated by male comedians such as Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell.

In the interview on the AOL Build Series, Melissa McCarthy opened up about her slow start into comedy because of the lack of female roles out there. She recalled how Bridesmaids, written by her two friends Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, lead her to the super stardom she has today. McCarthy talked about the distinct difference she had with the two women asking her to just be weird and make the character her own instead of telling her exactly how to be. She felt it made all the difference to have women writing for women, making it the huge breakout success it was.

Before Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy was best known as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls. The actress has since unleashed herself as a bonafide comedy actress, going for weirder, funnier and filthier with each release. In addition to her more classically McCarthy faire in Life of the Party, the comedian also starred in The Happytime Murders in late summer. However, the film starring vulgar Muppet-like characters was a bit of a box office bomb.

Next, Melissa McCarthy stars in a dark comedy based on the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? The biopic, currently in limited release, has the actress showing off much more intensive acting chops. As McCarthy branches out to other genres and moves forward with her career, she will perhaps be known as one of the women who defined our time in female-led comedy.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.