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October 6, 2015

When will Studio 60's 'Harriet Hayes' be funny?

by Anna Johns, posted Oct 9th 2006 9:20AM
sarah paulsonI'm frustrated with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip for a variety of reasons, one of them being the Harriet Hayes character. According to Matt Albie, she is a comedic genius. She's one of the 'Big Three' members of the sketch comedy show and the other characters treat her as if she walks on water. Yet, we never get to see her be a comedic genius. All we see of Harriet is her screaming at Matt or talking seriously about religion. Case in point: In episode 3, Harriet campaigns to replace a joke about a small town with a joke about hunting laws in Wyoming. She says she's going to end the joke with a comment from a bear, who says, "Rooaaar!" She delivers the joke twice during the episode, and each time the characters say they know she can make it funny when she does it for air. At the end of the episode, when we're watching a montage of clips from Studio 60, we don't get to see Harriet deliver the joke.

Is she mis-cast? Is Sorkin waiting to show us the funny for some reason? Everytime her character appears, I just don't buy that she's a comedic genius.

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Hoopla Hoobidoo

Harriet forgot the funny.

October 20 2006 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are you guys watching the same show? This show is so awful it's embarrassing. The dialogue isn't sharp -- stop being a wuss, everyone! Just because it's Aaron Sorkin's dialogue doesn't make "genius." Who talks like that? And the Matthew Perry character is a nightmare. I've never seen a more miserable person who is supposed to be writing comedy. And the smug way this show talks about Molliere and Gibert & Sullivan. Writing staffs for a late night show DO NOT REFERENCE these period pieces. The Holly Hunter, Julliet Lewis sketches are absurd because neither of these actors are in pop culture. And finally, NO SHOW ON TV (except an Aaron Sorkin show) is written by one person... especially a sketch comedy show. The idea that Matthew Perry is up in his office writing twenty more minutes of the show is LUDICROUS. This show stinks. And, by the way, why is the HEAD OF THE NETWORK always hanging out at this show. The head of a network has a much bigger problem these days than worrying about their late night show. PRIMETIME HAS MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS. This show is a way for Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlammee to "sixty-nine" other without having to have sex.

October 17 2006 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think we just have to accept that the sketches will not be nearly as funny as 1) The rest of the show, or 2) Actually funny sketches. As they were reading the eventually plagiarized bit in the writers' room, I thought they were using it as an example of the cliched, tired comedy of the Ricky and Ron era (and, in effect, the real SNL). Instead, everyone loved it. And Harriet's polarizing "bear joke" seemed like something Tina Fey or Amy Poehler would mix in with some stoner jokes, innuendo, and lots of giggling and call it "Weekend Update".

That got me thinking: I can't think of a single funny female cast member on SNL since, what, Gilda Radner maybe? Tina Fey pretty much sucked, and she got her own sitcom. Maybe Harriet's not so unrealistic after all.

October 10 2006 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Moncur

I think a big part of the problem is Matthew Perry. He's the funniest actor on the show - his comic timing is perfect, he can deadpan anything, and even when he's doing something serious he can get a laugh out of it. (Remember him calmly handing Jeanie the T-Shirt that said "Matt is my hero and Danny thinks Moliere was Italian" at the end of the last episode? Dead serious, but funny.)

Also, he's perfect for Sorkin's style of dialog. So we switch to the "comedy" and we get inferior comedy actors delivering lines that are all wrong for them.

I don't mind, though - I think of it like "Sports Night." Did anyone think that was a GOOD sports show? It was a clumsy show where everything went wrong, but the people behind it were interesting. That's the point.

October 10 2006 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonny Rice

I agree with those commenters who've pointed out that it's not Paulson's fault if her skits aren't funny, it's Sorkin's as a writer. Either he has to stop showing the skits altogether, or bring on some additional writers to punch them up or pitch him ideas.

But as far as the Harriet Hayes character's lack of funny, I think we're making a mistake in assuming that just because an actor is a sketch comedian, they're funny all of the time. I've read articles with Will Ferrell where he talks just like any regular Joe. He's not a Robin Williams type that can't sit still for any more than two seconds. It's not Will Ferrell the person that's funny, it's the characters he creates that are (though I guess that's subjective as well).

Which brings us back to the original problem -- that the sketch characters Harriet Myers plays aren't funny, only because Sorkin hasn't written anything for her that wows us.

October 10 2006 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry but I can't believe for a minute that Sarah Paulson is funny or that Harriet is funny. Even when D.L Hughley's character is having a tantrum(like tonight) I can still sense that when he's "on" he's great-likewise with Corddry who certainly isn't funny on screen but Paulson is so stiff she's totally implausible as a comedic genius.

October 09 2006 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think if the show wants a full season and to continue in the future they need to get rid of 50% of the cast. They are useless side charaters and I don't get the point of them all. Just get rid of them.

October 09 2006 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually thought the bear joke was funny. The joke about The Crucible was a total misfire--the TWOP review points out that they make fun of the wrong thing--and the randomness of the bear joke made a pretty good contrast. On the whole, though, I think the sketches on Studio 60 have so far been wretched & they need to keep those suckers off screen. Matt's (overbearing) critique of Harriet's joke last week or the week before--that she asked for the laugh instead of the butter--applies to the meta-show, or whatever you want to call it, as well. The jokes in the sketches are so overdetermined that it's practically impossible to find them funny.

October 09 2006 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, we get that the point behind "Studio 60" is not the humor, but the drama behind the humor. The real problem is that none of the characters seem to care enough about "humor" to create drama for us.

On WW and Sports Night we got the eloquent speeches that explained or at least demonstrated why the characters loved their jobs. With Studio 60 Danny has to do this job due to a failed drug test and Matt wants revenge. Where are the scenes where Harriet wanted to make her terminally ill dad laugh or Simon succeeded at a white prep school by making others laugh.

October 09 2006 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, most of the people who watch Studio 60 watch because we're Sorkin fans. I think...at least its why I watch. The problem is that it loses realism when the show isn't funny. They keep talking about this great turn around, when there is no reason to believe it.

I also agree with whoever said that Sorkin figured that being a Christian was enough character development.

I hope that this show turns around...the cast and writing staff are way too good to be wasted like this.

October 09 2006 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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