Anne Beatts (1947-2021)– Pioneering woman comedy writer and advocate

Anne Beatts On March 15, 2021, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Anne Beatts about her life, adventures, writing for SNL and Square Pegs, and breaking the barriers that existed for women comedy writers. I am so grateful that I said “Yes, And” to this wonderful opportunity. It was such a fun visit and we had planned to chat again but sadly, she passed just a few weeks later, on April 7, 2021. Anne was a force of good humor that paved the way for funny women writers. Anne was the first contributing writer on National Lampoon Magazine. That was where she met SNL future cast, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and John Belushi. (see the film “Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon”). Later she lobbied for John to be cast in SNL and Lorne said, “No, he’s trouble.”

Ann beatts
From left, the writer Deanne Stillman, Anne Beatts, and Gilda Radner in 1976. Ms. Beatts was one of “Saturday Night Live’s” original writers. Credit…Lynn Goldsmith

She and Rosie Shuster became writers on the first five years of Saturday Night Live. Some of her skits included Irwin Mainway sketches she co-wrote with Dan Ackroyd,  Consumer Probe: Irwin Mainway – SNL. She also wrote the “Nerds” pieces with Gilda Radner and Bill Murray  Lisa Loopner & Todd DiLaMuca. She won two Emmy Awards – she was nominated for five —for her writing for SNL. While Anne had once said “I always felt that if I died it would be, ‘Ex-SNL writer dies. If they could add the ‘Square Pegs’ credit in there that would be good.” After leaving SNL in 1980, Anne went on to produce and write for “Square Pegs,” which starred Sara Jessica Parker and Amy Linker as teenage girls trying to fit into their high school. Anne was not just a pioneering woman comedy writer, she was an advocate as well. As a producer of Square Pegs, Beatts not only launched her own primetime show, she hired an almost all-female staff.

Jane Curtin and Anne Beatts at the Nantucket Film Festival

She and Deanne Stillman edited and wrote for the 1976 “Titters: The First Collection of Humor by Women.” She was a longtime advocate of giving women a bigger voice in comedy, and of purging the sexism in that world.” She paved the way for women writers and comedians and will be missed by many.

You might want to listen to my fascinating discussions with other improv teachers and innovators including Colin Mochrie and Laxmi Priya
*Improv Interviews podcast‘ is introduced by Susan L. Parker of, Audio Engineer Landon Kirksey

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