Remembering The Late Comedy Writer Anne Beatts : NPR

Anne Beatts visits Live From New York! The after-party for the premiere of the documentary in Los Angeles on June 10, 2015. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images hide the caption

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Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images

Anne Beatts visits Live From New York! The after-party premiere of the documentary in Los Angeles on June 10, 2015.

Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images

I would like to say hello to the great comedy writer Anne Beatts in her own words. Anne died this week at the age of 74. But many of their typical, cross-border routines are difficult to quote on a Saturday morning radio show.

“I am often accused of going too far,” she once said. “Behind my desire to shock is an even stronger desire to evade the ‘female stereotype’. You say women are afraid of mice? I’ll show you! I’ll eat the mouse!”

She was one of the few women writers for National Lampoon Magazine and then joined the original writing staff on Saturday Night Live. Male comedy writers tried to write lines about them to get laughter. Anne sharpened her jokes before throwing them back. As PJ O’Rourke told us, “Anne was Tina Fey when Tina Fey made fun of the stuffed animals in her crib.”

She told later Vanity Fair that these writers’ rooms made them “harder than” [she] should be. “” Essentially, “she said,” you find that if you try to be one of the guys, you are just a slightly flawed guy. “

Some of her most penetrating work has attempted to wring comedies from places that many people may find too dark.

One of her most famous pieces was Lampoon’s Encyclopedia of Humor a few years after Senator Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. He escaped, but a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne was trapped in the car and drowned. Anne Beatts created a fake advertisement showing a Volkswagen Beetle floating on the water. The slogan read: “If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he would be president today.”

It was a sharp reminder that the mostly male punditocracy had seen the death of a woman mostly as a political problem for a powerful man. Volkswagen sued for defamation; The lampoon agreed to recall the unsold books and cut out the offending page.

Buck Henry, screenwriter and actor, famous for

Anne said it was just too easy for liberal-minded urban comedy writers to satirize conservatives – “like shooting smoked fish in a barrel,” she once told me – and wrote a parody of script for the Lampoon, which she called the liberals Psalm said: “He walks in the ways of self-righteousness, and whenever he can he rides a bicycle.”

Anne and Rosie Shuster worked with Bill Murray and Gilda Radner at SNL to create a funny, touching series of sketches called “The Nerds” about two clumsy teenagers who find the world a little less lonely together. It was a story from her own life, Anne freely said. After SNL, she created Square Pegs, a popular but short-lived sitcom from the early 80s about two high school girls trying to fit in.

Since Anne Beatts never quite fit into the boys’ comedy room, she created her own and kicked the door open for others.

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