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.
It is 25 years since Amy Heckerling’s hit film and Emma interpretation Clueless hit the silver screen so naturally, I had to pick a comedy icon from the cast of total betties. Obviously Cher is the lead and narrator of Clueless but aside from her, there’s a few to choose from. Tai was sweet, goofy and funny, Amber was a hilarious bitch and who could forget ex-step-brother Josh’s date who misquoted Hamlet? Not me, because I watched that film so many times I could recite it to you in full now if you asked. My friend Amalia and I watched it till the film wore out. Like seriously, in the scene where Cher comes down the stairs in her Calvin Klein dress the audio of Mel’s opinion (“it looks like underwear!”) is shot. But my favourite character was always Dionne Davenport.
Cher is great and all but Dionne was cool. She didn’t just wear what magazines told her to, she added in humorous accessories (the hats, hello?) to put her own stamp on things. Also Dionne was probably one of the first teenage feminists I saw, from instructing her boyfriend Murray to not address her as ‘woman’ because it was pejorative to experimenting with her sexuality (remember her asking Tai if she’d ever done it in water?) this 15-year-old knew herself.
This is not to say Dionne is above some hysterics and hyperbole, such as her horror at Murray shaving his head in order to ‘keep it real’. However you have to admire her for thinking of her future grandchildren’s opinions.
Dionne also had some of the most memorable lines in the film. Yes, we all remember the catchphrases but Dionne has the best comebacks. From chipping in to announce that Cher’s saving herself for Luke Perry to offering honesty when Cher asks if she’d call her selfish “no, not to your face.” to the immortal insult to Amber “Well there goes your social life.”
Also having recently rewatched the film on Netflix I would also like to take the opportunity to praise how lean this film is. There is no fat in this script that needs trimming off, no wonder we remember it 25 years later and no wonder Dionne Davenport is this week’s comedy icon.
If you have a character you’d like to suggest for this, then tweet me @funnywomened
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