Sad news today as Comedy Guys mourns the death of comedy great Phyllis Diller.

Her agent Fred Wostbrock reported today that the comedy icon died in her sleep at her Southern California home. Diller was 95.

Born July 17, 1917, Diller made a name for herself as a female standup comic when there were no female standup comics, breaking new ground and paving the way for today’s female comics such as Roseanne Barr, Ellen Degeneres, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Because she began her career in the 50s and 60s when women were only seen as housewives, she created a stage persona for herself as a housewife — a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed, failure of a housewife who makes self-deprecating jokes about her age, her looks, her terrible cooking, and a fictional husband called “Fang.”

In recent years she is better known to TV audiences for appearances such as Mimi Bobek’s grandmother on THE DREW CAREY SHOW and for providing voices to cartoon characters such as Arnold’s great-aunt Mitzi on HEY, ARNOLD! and Peter Griffin’s mother on FAMILY GUY.

In the two clips below you can see two aspects of Phyllis Diller. The first is from an interview with the Archive of American Television where she discusses her career. In the second clip, we see Phyllis Diller doing what she does best: making people laugh with her outrageous humor, delivered machine-gun style at a 1977 audience.

1 Comment

  1. Gene McGuire on 08/20/2012 at 5:41 pm

    As a former touring comic from the 80s and 90s, I had it easy compared to comics of Dillers era. They didn’t have tons of comedy clubs made ready for comedians. Diller and comic of her ilk had to get gigs wherever they could in order to make a buck. They worked more dives and strip clubs than I ever dreaded to think about playing. Plus being a comic was for men. Not too many women getting up on stage to perform stand up. She paved the way for all the gals working standup today. Thanks for the years of laughter Phyllis. And thanks for opening up future doors for the funny ladies of today.

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