Jackie Hoffman is a versatile, talented, captivating and funny actress, raconteuse and performer, instantly recognizable for her expressive, malleable face, her sharp and husky delivery, and that big, confident, singing voice that has oft-graced the Broadway stage (see her wonderful rendition of “I’m Shy “in the 2015 revival of Once Upon a Mattress). Thus it was a huge surprise to learn, in Joan Kron’s candid documentary, that she has genuinely considered plastic surgery for her face. I enjoy looking at Jackie Hoffman’s face, whether up close at Joe’s Pub or on the big screen. Further, I consider her very successful and admired and famous…why should she want to change her appearance?
None of this comes as a surprise for Joan Kron, who has made a funny, kind-hearted, and sympathetic film about the ways in which certain Hollywood beauty standards still prevail, even for women who don’t need to conform to that standard to get roles. The film also argues, persuasively, that female comediennes can take credit for reducing the stigma and shame around getting plastic surgery, owning up to their procedures, from Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr, Phyllis Diller…and Fanny Brice. Kron was the contributing editor at Allure Magazine for several decades, covering plastic surgery news and trends, and she proves to be knowledgeable and finds the humor in the various nuances (particularly economic) that go into making such an important personal decision. She has wittily and succinctly observed the advantage that female comediennes have in taking about plastic surgery. They can use humor to critique a pervasive system that values a particular kind of beauty; to reflect on their ethnic background, career choice and relationship to their body; and of course, to write even more funny and pointed jokes.
The film would resonate at any time, but it is particularly resonant at this moment in American culture, when sexism in Hollywood and other media industries is being discussed more loudly and publicly. Whether it is fighting for equal pay, (Catt Sadler) advocating for more diverse and nuanced roles (Geena Davis) or simply acknowledging that women are indeed as funny as men, many women in the entertainment industry are now truly able to speak up individually and collectively. Being judged for your looks is no longer a punch line.
Take My Nose…Please!, dir. Joan Kron, 92 mins. Parvenu Ventures, 2016.
Now available to stream on all digital platforms.