WHAT A LAUGH
dominated by hilarious women, none more so than its lead actress and co-writer, Kristen Wiig, who was described last year by Simon Pegg (her co-star in the alien comedy Paul) as ‘‘ the funniest woman on the planet’’.
Wiig plays Annie, the former manager of a failed bakery, whose love life is heading the same way as her old business. When her dearest friend (played by Maya Rudolph) appoints her as maid of honour at her wedding, the chasm between the two women’s fortunes leads to tantrums and jealousy, not to mention a frenzied assault on a heart-shaped cookie.
If Bridesmaids has attracted comparisons with male gross-out comedies, that says more about the marketplace than the movie. Not only is it a character-driven piece from which the gags emerge organically (give or take a mass vomiting scene suggested by Apatow), it is also resolutely not The Hangover in drag. Bridget Jones with fangs and claws may be nearer the truth.
‘‘ People don’t seem to separate drama into male and female,’’ Wiig notes when we meet on a spring afternoon at a Beverly Hills hotel. ‘‘ With comedy, it’s always, ‘ Oh, look, funny women, female humour.’ I do think men and women can laugh at different things because sometimes we speak a different language. But, really, funny is funny.’’
Indeed, it’s a weirdly condescending sensibility that would siphon off female comic performers as strong as Wiig, Fey, Rudolph, Sarah Silverman, Emma Stone, Anna Faris, Lucy Punch and Katherine Parkinson into some sort of minor league, unfit to compete with the big boys.
Wiig, 37, looks tanned and slender in a dark blue dress with a floral motif. She’s sporting a large turquoise ring that seems especially unwieldy against her tiny hands; a bulbous gold amulet dangles around her neck. It’s striking how sane and relaxed she appears, with no trace of the reined-in, radioactive mania of the characters she has played during her six years (and counting) on the evergreen American television sketch show Saturday Night Live.
These include the Target Lady, a maniacal sales assistant; Aunt Linda, a grumpy film reviewer who greets movies with a disdainful ‘‘ Whaaaat?’’; Gilly, a sinisterly smiling schoolgirl prone to sneak attacks on her teacher; and Penelope, the compulsive oneupper who twirls her hair around one finger and reels off improbable boasts in a maddening monotone.
These are abrasive nitwits and introspective fantasists, but the solitary hint of kookiness in their creator lies in her oversized jewellery, which suggests a child who has ransacked her mother’s dresser.
SNL’s producer, Lorne Michaels, has ranked Wiig as one of the ‘‘ top three or four’’ cast members of all time — high praise in a series that launched Fey, Will Ferrell, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and many others. Despite the show’s hectic weekly schedule, Wiig has also put in the hours in animation voiceover ( Despicable Me, How to Train Your