Honoring a Pioneering Force for Women in Comedy


A moment of silence – or better yet a hearty laugh – for Anne Beatts. 

She died last week at 74. It was a life well-lived. Although many people may not connect the dots to her comedic influence, her fingerprints are all over the map when it comes to paving roads for other women in the entertainment industry. 

Roll credits: she was a writer for “Saturday Night Live” and National Lampoon and created the sitcom “Square Pegs.” 

Those gigs were historic: Beatts was the first female contributing editor at National Lampoon and a member of the founding writing team on SNL in 1975. 

Her credits on the iconic series included a collaborative writing partnership with Rosie Shuster. Their creative handiwork included the “Nerds” series, featuring Lisa Loopner (the late Gilda Radner) and Todd DiLaMuca (Bill Murray), as an awkward couple. 

Then came “Square Pegs.” 

“’Square Pegs’ was shaped by a girl’s point of view and featured misfit heroines Patty Greene, played by Sarah Jessica Parker (it was her big break) and Lauren Hutchinson, played by Amy Linker,” Jen Chaney wrote in Vulture. “Half of the 20 episodes in its first and only season, which aired in 1982 and 1983, were directed or co-directed by a woman, Kim Friedman. At Beatts’s insistence, the writing staff was initially composed of five women and just one man, Andy Borowitz. 

The show was also just plain cool, speaking to teens with a shared interest in their interests that made young people feel seen before the [John] Hughes movies would have a similar effect.” 

Even after those glory days, Beatts continued to be a longtime advocate of giving women bigger roles and louder voices in comedy. 

In an ode to Beatts after her death, a piece written by Lisa Respers on cnn.com acknowledged her legacy, citing a number of women still carrying the torch: Nikki Glaser, a stand-up comic, Ali Wong, a stand-up comedian, actor and author, and Issa Rae, creator of the hit HBO series “Insecure.” 

“What better tribute to Beatts and others like her than to keep rising in what traditionally has been a boys club?” Respers wrote. 

RIP. And Amen.

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