Whitney Cummings on Cancel Culture, Comedy Creeps, and the Death of ‘Roseanne’

The prolific comedian and TV writer opens up to Marlow Stern about her new charity special, why Hollywood people should try to empathize with Trump supporters, and more.

“Everyone’s very scared of you. Is this going to be confrontational?” Whitney Cummings asks me, half-jokingly (I think.)

I assure her that I’ll be fair, and understand why her guard is up. Despite reaching incredible Hollywood heights—a podcast, stand-up specials, film roles, starring in her own eponymous sitcom, co-creating the CBS hit 2 Broke Girls, and executive producing the Roseanne revival—Cummings has been the subject of a number of hostile, and downright sexist, pieces. In a 2011 interview, then-New York Times writer Andrew Goldman even asked her if she’d slept her way to the top.

The occasion for our talk is an undeniably good one: In Stitches: A Night of Laughs with Whitney Cummings and Friends, a live virtual comedy special airing the evening of Nov. 19 benefiting the Hydrocephalus Association, an organization helping research a brain disease that affects 1-2 out of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S.

“I just feel like babies at least deserve to grow up,” offers Cummings. “If you fuck up your life that’s on you, but you should get a fair shot out of the gate.”

In Stitches will feature performances by Cummings, as well as up-and-coming comics Kurt Braunohler, Chris Estrada, Dan Levy, and Esther Povitsky. There will also be special appearances, from Neil Patrick Harris to Meghan Trainor, and a performance by Natasha Bedingfield. It will be filmed in the backyard of Cummings’ home in Topanga, California, where she’s been hosting a number of socially distanced comedy sets during the ongoing pandemic, and in her downtime, hanging with her twin pitbulls—one of whom, Mona, almost ate a lemon during our Zoom interview, causing Cummings to sprint off-camera.

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