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Intelligencer: July 18-25

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Is the ‘Times’ Too ‘Frasier’ for Stella?
The stars of the new Comedy Central series Stella are stalwarts of the downtown performance scene, so their friends took it as a personal attack when Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan wrote that the show doesn’t “yield simple, genuine laughs.” She even tried to prove it by quoting a friend of hers who said, “I watched that thing as if my face was palsied, that’s how not laughing I was.” “If Ms. Heffernan opened her sampling up to even five other people, she’d find at least a couple who think Stella is one of the most original and, yes, funny shows around,” says John Hamburg, who wrote Meet the Parents. Stella made him laugh so hard, he spit up his beer. “It’s just stupid-funny,” says comedienne Sarah Silverman, who thought Heffernan might favor Frasier; Stella “may be too intimidating” for her. Comedy writer Ryan Iverson sees larger critical issues: “Does it make any sense to heap sarcasm on ‘focus-grouped’ sitcoms and then complain about Stella being too ‘idiosyncratic’?” Heffernan is undeterred. “I’m glad they’re so powerful and cerebral. I just wish they were funny.”
—Shana Liebman


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