Lizz On.

lizzfreeHappy birthday Lizz Winstead.

She’s best known as a political commentator and co-creator of The Daily Show, but she started in standup comedy and theater, and her book of personal essays Lizz Free or Die provides some hilarious and poignant insight into her background. She explains a lot about who she is and how she moved so far from the conservative Catholic family she was brought up in.

She discusses her decision to take up babysitting even though she didn’t really like babies, and how babies knew she didn’t like her and would “scowl” at her. “Every photo of me as a kid holding a baby looks like a poster promoting a heavyweight championship fight.” And her young obsession with a praying hands statue mounted on the wall—wondering whose hands they were and why they’d been amputated—cracks me up every time I reread it.

Like these.  Source: Amazon.com

Yeah, I can see why these would freak out a kid. Lucky me I was raised by Presbyterians.
Source: Amazon.com

Winstead also takes more serious turns, such as when, almost completely ignorant about sex other than how to do it, she got pregnant and her first boyfriend left her to deal with it on her own. Then there’s, among other things, the time she put in paying her standup dues. Winstead started at a time when comedy was notoriously unfriendly to women comics and she faced plenty of unfriendly audiences, including once disastrously opening for Frankie Valli.

The book seems to cut off too soon—she briefly covers her time creating and working on The Daily Show, but ends there—but that’s okay. Yes, I would like more, but she does some pretty serious soul baring in her essays, and it would be unfair to expect anything more.

10 Comments

  1. kdcol

    Gee, I never thought of the floating hands before. Until now. That IS kind of creepy. And I’m going to check the book out. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s a fun and thought-provoking read that really goes from the funny to the deeply serious. The one thing I wish I knew more about was her reason for leaving The Daily Show, but I guess she doesn’t want to discuss it.

      Reply
  2. Gina W.

    Oh man, I had COMPLETELY forget about the praying hands until I saw this. My Mamaw had these hands on the coffee table in the living room. You know, in a prominent display spot. Also in the house– a painting of Elvis on velvet (in a back bedroom). Jesus and Elvis seem to be popular with people in the South (or at least they were when I was growing up).

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It seems like they still are. Just the other day I was in the grocery store and one of the tabloids had a big article on Elvis and why he didn’t have to die. And I thought, wow, things haven’t changed much. They’ve just moved on from saying he’s still alive. So did the hands freak you out? We never had them but headless mannequins terrified me, so I think the hands would have disturbed me too.

      Reply
  3. TwerlaP

    I haven’t had tv for about fifteen years,( I mean I have actual ‘tvs’, just not the programs? ), so I googled her. Two places said she left because of a conflict with Craig Kilburn. Which I believe, cuz when I did have tv, I didn’t like him either.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ve read that too, but I’ve always wondered what the nature of the conflict was. It also seems strange to me that she was a co-creator, producer, and one of the show’s writers, but she’s the one who left. I hope it had nothing to do with gender bias but that’s sure what it looks like.

      Reply
  4. Shawna

    I will definitely have to check this one out! Anyone who isn’t afraid to say they’re not a fan of babies is someone I’m a fan of!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      She’s also very introspective: she traces not being a fan of babies to having been the baby of the family herself, so she resents the attention they get. It’s understandable, although also kind of unfair to focus her resentment on the babies. It’s really the parents’ fault for having kids.

      Reply
  5. Shawna

    Parents are such assholes. I’m just paraphrasing for my four kids, here.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And without them we’d fill up with shit until we exploded.
      Never underestimate the power of assholes kids!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: