Kate Stone

Kate Stone

Why Lisa Landry is a Comedy Icon

When it comes to female characters there appears to be an odd belief that there are few examples of them in comedy, specifically examples who could be held up as comedic role models. I seem to have some extra time on my hands right now and rather than rearrange my wardrobe I have decided to dedicate an essay each to the fictional girls and women who deserve more recognition for their comedy.

This week I am sticking with my older woman comedy character theme, in fact you may note I have updated the opening paragraph above so that the Comedy Icon series can embrace women comedy characters of all ages. My comedy icon today is Sister Sister matriarch Lisa Landry.

When I think back over all the women in TV comedy I watched when I was a teenager, Lisa Landry sticks out as the first woman clown I ever saw. Jackée Harry’s larger than life character Lisa Landry was loud, proud and almost impossible to bring down. But she was so much more than that.

Lisa Landry is one complex character. Firstly, before she took the impressive step of adopting Tia and becoming a single mother, Lisa had a pretty wild time and is never ashamed of her past. Secondly, she is a businesswoman; we all remember Fashions by Lisa, no? Thirdly she was an emotional eater who expressed her occasional depressive episodes openly. Fourthly she managed to simultaneously put her daughter (and then daughters when Tia found her identical twin Tamera very plausibly at the mall) first without compromising her own larger than life personality, which makes her an excellent maternal role model.

Of course every character in Sister Sister had funny lines, it was a comedy show after all, but Lisa got the lion’s share of the jokes and how many comedy shows can you think of (not written by and starring a woman) where that happens? Any one of them could have been worthy of catch-phrasedom but this didn’t happen purely because there were simply so many. In fact every now and again a Lisa line pops up on the open mic circuit, a few years ago I saw a man deliver a line about his wife having a tattoo of a kitten on her behind which had now become a tiger because HA-HA as time went by she had put on weight. I am certain I was not the only member of the audience suppressing the heckle “that is a Lisa Landry line from Sister Sister and you know it.”

I said at the beginning of this article that Lisa was the first clown I’d ever seen on TV, her physical comedy stole the show without ever being cloying. Clearly Jackée Harry is a fearless performer who never lets being a fool hold her back, making Lisa Landry a glamour-puss, wise-cracking, prat-falling comedy icon.

If you have a character you’d like to suggest for this, then tweet me @funnywomened

Read why Dorothy Zbornak is a comedy icon here!

Read why Anne Shirley is a comedy icon here!

Read why Wednesday Addams is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Marmalade Atkins is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Tracy Beaker is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Daria Morgendorffer is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Anastasia Krupnik is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Helga Pataki is a comedy icon here! 

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