Molly Ivins Humor Essay

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“There are two kinds of humor,” she said in a 1991 magazine story.

“One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity…the other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule—that’s what I do.” Ivins, who grew up in a conservative household in Houston, is best known for her work in the .

We spoke to the film’s director, Janice Engel, about Ivins’s fierce spirit and the lessons today’s young people can take from her legacy about taking political action.

Texas Monthly: What drew you to Molly Ivins and creating this documentary? I grew up in New York and then came to California to go to college, so I wasn’t part of her constituency. So this was really my introduction to her, seeing the play.

in 2012 at the behest of my dear friend, James Egan, who wanted to make a film with me. I came home, and rather than going to sleep, I went to Google. It’s a deep archaeological dive when you go into doing a documentary on somebody and their life.

I Googled until two or three in the morning and watched Molly on C-SPAN and a variety of stuff. The good news was that her papers were housed at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin. I lived there [in Austin] for different periods of time in 2013, 2015, and 2016.

John’s and was a child of Texas oil and gas privilege.

Much of her character was formed in conflicts with her strait-laced Republican father, who was known as General Jim or Admiral Jim because of his stern authoritarianism.

Ivins, the former co-editor of the , was known for calling George W.

Bush “Shrub” and telling her public that Dan Quayle was so stupid that if his brain were transplanted into a bumblebee, the bee would probably fly backward.


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