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 thanks to Curly Sue that I always wanted to learn to shuffle cards in a fancy way. To shuffle cards in a way that suggests that I either received croupier training OR had lived a shady life in which I had to live by my wits and card skills. And received croupier training. So mysterious, who is she? As it happened I never learned to shuffle cards and I barely even know how to play Snap. But Curly Sue stayed with me.
Curly Sue was the female answer to Home Alone’s Kevin McAllister. Only she wasn’t living by her wits from a massive house with access to her big brother’s savings until her family returned. More badass than smartass, Sue is an orphan taken in by Bill Dancer and together the homeless pair run scams not for profit but for just enough to eat. They don’t break any laws – not “the good ones” anyway.
The streetsmart pair trick a successful lawyer, Grey Ellison, into thinking she hit Bill with her car, only for her to then actually hit Bill with her car. Guilt-ridden Grey invites the pair into her home, shenanigans ensue in which all parties learn a lesson…
Curly Sue, played by Alisan Porter stole the show and deserved the recognition Macauley Culkin got from his role as Kevin McAllister. If anything for the ‘make over’ scene in which Sue fails to be dazzled by a shiny shoes, completely capturing how ridiculous girls clothing can be and how freaking itchy woollen tights are. But rolling around the floor in discomfort with your skirt tucked in your knickers isn’t as easy to emulate as slapping your hands to your cheeks and screaming.
For me, Curly Sue was the first female character on screen I saw who wasn’t haughty, or lispy or wimpy or sensible. Girls don’t get a lot of these characters, usually our comedy is limited to us rolling our eyes at the boys as we get everything right, Hermione Granger style. Little headmistresses reining the boys in before puberty has even hit. No wonder society doesn’t seem to think men are responsible for their actions, we constantly portray girls as their keepers.
Curly Sue though, she was smart, honest and most importantly just a kid through and through. She’s not a genius, she’s not outlandishly talented or beautifully disciplined. She’s just a girl who has been brought up by someone who never talked down to her, meaning she can charm adults by speaking to them on the same level but also play them for all they’re worth. Which is funny, because she’s just a kid.
Therefore we should all welcome Curly Sue into the comedy icon club and Alisan Porter, who had to endure two perms in order to play the title role.
If you have a character you’d like to suggest for this, then tweet me @funnywomened
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