A Cutting-Edge Comedienne

Rebecca Onion at Slate‘s new history blog, The Vault, features the above performance by Jean Carroll, one of the first female stand-ups:

At a time when many moms on television were paragons of domesticity, Carroll’s act lampooned that image. In this clip, she’s dressed in a party dress, a choker, and heels. (She often wore fancy clothes to perform.) Working contrary to her prim-and-proper appearance, many of her jokes skewered suburban life, child-rearing, and marriage. Here’s Carroll on her new life in the suburbs:

In the country everything is done in groups. Two women meet up on the street, “Oh Agnes, I’m going to have a baby!” “Oh, so am I!” “Isn’t that wonderful! Who else can we get?”

Carroll’s material, which she wrote herself, still resonates after all these years. But the most charming aspect of this clip is Carroll’s small reactions to the big laughs she gets after delivering each punchline—a comical roll of the eyes, a little giggle, but nothing to interrupt the rapid flow of her delivery.