I wrote this a few days back:
It's a well-travelled path: a flat-out comedian wants to be taken More Seriously As An Actor, and so gets into a movie that allows him to show that he's more than Ace Ventura/Carl Spackler/Happy Gilmore/Austin Powers/Mork/Navin Johnson.Something that bothered me (even as a basic Neanderthal when it comes to feminism) was how easy it was to make that list, and the total absence of women on it.
Hypothesis: one's career path as an actor is severely limited if you (a) are a woman, and (b) start out doing comedy.
Evidence: let's look at Saturday Night Live cast members. Let's look at only the ones currently alive, because who knows what might have happened to Gilda Radner or John Belushi?
Five most successful males: Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers.
Five most successful females: Janeane Garofalo, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christine Ebersole, Jane Curtin, … um, … maybe Nora Dunn?
You see what I mean, I hope, even those of you saying: "Who's Christine Ebersole?"
More: look at the Oscar nominees for Best Actor/Actress for the past few years. On the guy side, we see Tom Hanks, Jamie Foxx, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, … all with early solid roots in comedy. Even one of Leonardo DiCaprio's early roles was on the Growing Pains sitcom.
On the gal side side, we have … Helen Hunt. And maybe you could make an argument for Diane Keaton and (going back a ways) Mary Tyler Moore. But otherwise, the women nominees did not start their careers cracking jokes.
Also check today's USA Today article provocatively headlined: Few bright spots for funny ladies. It points out that there are darn few leading TV sitcom roles for funny women these days, let alone career paths to increased acting respectability. (There's also a fetching picture of the aforementioned Ms. Louis-Dreyfus.)
The conclusion is inescapable: women who want to have wildly successful acting careers should probably avoid starting out in comedy.
I have no explanation.