One of the biggest problems with the piece, beyond its basic premise being completely flawed, is that the author seems to know very little about contemporary comedy. The whole thing is pegged to the death of Diller, and the main example used throughout is Tina Fey's Liz Lemon. But has Fetters watched any other comedies on TV besides 30 Rock? The women in, say, Community and Parks and Rec do nothing to play down their beauty, and are incredibly funny despite (?) this fact. After a season of TV in which it seemed that female leads in comedies were becoming the norm, it's amazing that someone could actually make the argument that funny women are all trying to look ugly, and that pretty women can't find success in comedy.
The biggest new hit comedy of the season was New Girl, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone to argue that Zooey Deschanel was trying to look ugly in that. Or Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs were in 2 Broke Girls. Or Whitney Cummings was in Whitney. Or Sophia Vergara and Julie Bowen were in Modern Family. And so on — I could easily list over a dozen of other beautiful, funny women in comedies on network TV. Hell, she uses the example of Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids as a beautiful women who made herself ugly in order to get laughs. Did we watch the same movie?
Update from a reader with more examples:
What about Sarah Silverman? Rita Rudner? Julia Louis-Dreyfuss? Chelsey Handler? When Diller started, it may certainly have been true that a woman needed to play down her looks to succeed in comedy. I would venture to guess that's not the case anymore.