Women in comedy have never shied away from using their own appearance as fodder for jokes. Whether it’s Phyllis Diller mining laughs from her garish onstage wardrobe choices or Amy Schumer poking fun at the idea that women in the entertainment industry have a “last fuckable day” or Joan Rivers’ endless supply of comments about her own plastic surgery, these women opted to make fun of their own looks as part of their act — and before someone else could do it first. After all, it’s not just women who perform comedy who get scrutinized for their appearance.
Comedians are also truthful, so if women in comedy have had plastic surgery, chances are — like Rivers — they’re pretty open to talking about it. They’re so open to it, in fact, that it’s the basis of a new documentary called Take My Nose… Please!, the debut film from director Joan Kron, which features appearances and commentary from Julie Halston, Judy Gold, Lisa Lampanelli and Jackie Hoffman among others.
While providing an overview of why plastic surgery is so common (or at least widely discussed) among women in comedy, it also follows two comedians — Hoffman and Emily Askin — on their personal journeys to determine whether or not they want to go under the knife. The viewer is able to follow Hoffman and Askin every step of the way, gaining real insight into what makes this decision-making process challenging and unique for all women, but especially those who make a living making people laugh on a stage.
The whirlwind of a film is even more impressive considering Kron is now 89 years old. Before her foray into filmmaking, Kron worked as a journalist for 45 years, including 25 years as an editor at Allure and time spent at New York Magazine and The New York Times.
“But my real claim to fame was that I was in charge of costumes for Clarabell in Howdy Doody on NBC TV in 1949,” Kron tells SheKnows.
After covering plastic surgery as a journalist for 25 years, Kron started to be invited to be a talking head in different films discussing the procedures, she says. Once she gained insight into the process of making documentaries, she thought, “I could do that” — and she did it.
Kron chose plastic surgery as the subject of her first film because she didn’t like the existing narrative surrounding how people talk about the topic — especially when it’s used as a tool to undermine women.
“The one thing I’ve never liked about plastic surgery shows is that they show a very distorted view of the world of plastic surgery and the people who have surgery,” Kron explains. “I just felt that it was the way that I saw plastic surgery shown. But really, I see people who just want to make small improvements who don’t want to look bizarre — they just want to feel a little fresher.”
Halston, who discusses her own plastic surgery in the film, tells SheKnows that in many contexts, talking about it is still not considered politically correct, and it was important to her to be part of a film that addresses it head-on and does so in a way that’s empowering for women.
“We’re out there, and we’re going to do it — not for you, but for me,” Halston says of women who decide to have plastic surgery.
And she has no regrets.
“I have to say when I got my face lift, I couldn’t have been happier — I was thrilled,” Halston adds. “I was looking like Paul Giamatti. Now I wake up every day happy that I don’t.”
Kron, who has also had plastic surgery, helps destigmatize the procedure by talking about her own experience.
“It gives you a lift to your life,” she says. “I can go out there into the world and I’m not looking like my grandmother. And I loved my grandmother, but she looked like a great-grandmother when she was 55. I don’t want to look like that right now, and I don’t feel like that. We’re a whole new generation. We eat differently, our lifestyle enables us to live longer — what do you want people to do, retire at 60?”
This film is hilarious, heartfelt and incredibly uplifting. It doesn’t promote or glamorize plastic surgery, nor does it shame women who opt to have it, and provides much-needed historical context about the origins of these oft-maligned procedures. No part of me expected to feel positive about my appearance after watching a documentary on plastic surgery, but hey — comedy is all about the unexpected.
Take My Nose… Please! will be available on all digital and on-demand platforms on Jan. 9, 2018 — the week of Kron’s 90th birthday.