Where the sun don't shine: Jim Schutze is apparently the last old-school investigative reporter in Dallas. He is mining a mother lode of corruption at Dallas City Hall. His recent article "Payback" (August 4) is a good example of classic investigative reporting.
Dallas is going the way of Chicago, I'm sad to say. It is very good for the investigative business but lousy for the citizens expecting honest law enforcement and paying higher taxes, adding insult to injury.
The investigators coming soon to Dallas from Austin should have long and gainful employment shining light into the bowels of City Hall. The cancer is apparently very deep and wide.
Welcome to my happy place: Thank you, Elaine, for finally giving the Dallas theater community some insight into the purpose of your truly bulbous ass. It must need to be that expansive to accommodate your oversized head when you "take a taxi to your happy place!" ("Dead Baby Jokes," by Elaine Liner, August 11.)
There is little I can add to the volumes that have been written concerning your talents--or lack thereof--as a theater critic. I only thank God that my daughter had the good fortune to graduate from Austin College rather than attending SMU. Otherwise, she might have had the misfortune of meeting you--sharing a personal concern--and then finding her conversation posted on the Internet as grist for what you mistake as your sparkling wit.
Perhaps you too might consider falling back on an alternative career. I understand the White Rock Riding Club is looking for a stable hand.
Elaine Liner responds: Letter-writer Bill Justus is the set designer for Rover Dramawerks. If you had seen the set last weekend, you'd have sworn it was constructed by the mentally deranged. Truly disturbing. I mean, would NYC yuppies thumbtack their curtains to the wall? I will never see another "werk" by these people if I can help it. As for "bulbous ass" and "oversized head," well, I agree on both counts. Buying jeans and hats is a nightmare for me.
The Laugh Ceiling
Funny and female: So, I read in the Dallas Observer ("Funny Girls," by Andrea Grimes, August 11) that Dallas has a gender gap when it comes to comedy. Wow, REALLY??
Here's the perspective I come from: (1) I'm female, and (2) Comedy is pretty much my life. For the past 14 years, I've been the co-writer of an internationally syndicated topical humor service for radio stations called The Comedy Wire, and now I'm the co-owner as well. This service provides five pages a day of really sharp material, faxed and e-mailed five days a week to eager DJs, at 4:30 a.m. CST. If my clients couldn't depend on me to be funny, I'd be out on the street waiting for Laura Miller to build me a homeless shelter. In addition, the song parodies I've written and recorded have received airplay on hundreds of radio stations. I'm also a singer/actress and have, for the past two years, performed my own stand-up/cabaret show called "My Ship Has Sailed" and written a humorous blog at www.lauraainsworth.com. I most recently played the Pocket Sandwich Theater and headlined a showcase at the Dallas Comedy Festival.
So, yes, I think I know comedy, and, yes, there are some funny women in Dallas. Linda Stogner, especially, puts me on the floor. You also should be aware of another talent, Julia Duffy, who's just moved back to Fort Worth from L.A. She hasn't done stand-up in a while, but she's had success in L.A. as both a stand-up and a producer, and I'm crossing my fingers that she gets a gig on local talk radio, another bastion of maleness.
It was your discussion of gender-based humor that intrigued me most. It seems based on the assumption that "comedy" is limited to certain topics and styles, all of which just happen to be from the male perspective. It's mostly humor BY guys FOR guys, and I've wondered if you have to be a woman to realize how cliché many of those topics have become. (Answer: No. My husband, also a longtime comedy writer, agrees.) It's only the comedians offering something unique who are ever going to break out and go places in the comedy biz. I guess the others are just addicted to the fabulous lifestyle of a bottom-rung club comic. The mansion, the fine restaurants, the supermodels.
As for the female comics, I don't understand their fear of touching any so-called women's issues and breaking out of the male-oriented comedy template that's been set. Good comedy arises from the performer's own personality and life experiences, so female comics SHOULD be addressing those topics, each in her own way. The show I do is about age obsession (plastic surgery, Botox, fashion, "passing" for a particular age, etc.); guys find plenty to laugh at, but women REALLY get it. I'm a woman--or was the last time I checked. For me, not talking about being a woman would be like Chris Rock not talking about being black.
Besides, I still think of Roseanne's first appearance on Carson and the way she brought down the house with her "domestic goddess" routine. It made her an instant star. Remember that great line about her husband thinking the uterus was a homing device? You can't get much more female--or funny--than that.
Victim and Villain
Good work: I just read "Gypsy Blood" (by Sarah Hepola, July 28)--this was a really good article. As a Dallas resident, I had some knowledge of the story but had not read anything as well-researched and well-written as this article was. It was interesting to see the elements behind both men, victim and perpetrator--thank you for your good work!