Some friends and I were recently discussing who the funniest female comedian was. Quite quickly it was decided that “the woman from Seinfeld”, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, took the top spot.
Understandably so, of course. On Seinfeld, Elaine was always one of the best characters, and Louis-Dreyfus won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe across the show’s life for her performance. Even then, though, that’s just one aspect of a career that’s saturated with impressive achievements – an influential stretch on SNL, a starring role in The New Adventures of Old Christine, two particularly memorable guest appearances on Arrested Development, and of course a series of movie roles.
I’d argue, though, that it’s Veep rather than Seinfeld or any of her other work which is the best showcase for Louis-Dreyfus’ comedic talents.
There’s a biting satirical edge running throughout Veep, carried perfectly by Louis-Dreyfus; hers is a powerful and unrelenting performance, always perfectly pitched and with an expert understanding of exactly what will make a scene come alive. Of course, Louis-Dreyfus is lucky to be working alongside similarly talented co-stars – any of her scenes with Timothy Simmons’ Jonah are a particular delight – but it’s always clear who the show revolves around, and who makes it work quite so well. It’s difficult to imagine Veep without Louis-Dreyfus, or who could have taken her place – it’s unlikely that there’s anyone else who could have made Selina Meyer such a wickedly funny character.
Veep has become an even better example of her talents in recent years, however; with series creator and head writer Armando Ianucci leaving the series at the end of season 4, it’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus who stepped in to replace him. Enlisting writers from Seinfeld and taking on an executive producer role, Veep is now more than ever a showcase for the talents of its title star.
Going into 2017, Veep is going to form an interesting reflection of American politics; not because we’re going to see a female president, as many may have expected, but because the highest office in the US is going to be held by someone even more incompetent than Selina Meyer herself. It’ll no doubt prove a challenge for Veep and its stars to not only stay relevant, but to stay funny – but with a star as talented as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it’s sure to be a challenge they’ll not only meet but surpass.
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