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Stupidity's worst nightmare

COMEDY | Chicagoan Haskins targets silly media messages

August 8, 2008

Sarah Haskins didn't set out to represent all womanhood. But she's causing an Internet sensation with her 3½-minute "Target Women" comedy segments at current.com.

Like the "Yogurt Edition." Haskins announces, "Yogurt is the official food of women," and then sharply mocks the kinds of ads that gush, "This is shoe-shopping good." She dances, savages Jamie Lee Curtis and then puts a spoonful of yogurt up to a poster of Hillary Clinton and says, "Eat it."

She never even had to leave her couch for inspiration.

"I was watching TLC, 'The Secret Life of Soccer Moms.' They kidnap these women and, horror of horrors, sent them to a job for a week," says Haskins. "It felt like The Handmaid's Tale -- what if these women worked?

"So I was watching that, and there were a lot of yogurt commercials, and I was like, 'These drive me batty.' "

The 28-year-old Chicago comedy alum also has lampooned bridal shows, Botox and mothers' duty to feed their families.

She has been noticed. "I am officially girl-crushing on Sarah Haskins something fierce," confessed Salon.com writer Kate Harding. "She has become the toast of the feminist blogosphere." Her fans are clamoring for her to join "The Daily Show," and she would be a good fit. But Haskins is happy with the collegial environment at Current. She works on the cable channel's comedic news show "Infomania," which airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays.

"We live in a society where you're barraged with media, and we're a smart voice that cuts through that," Haskins says. "I think our show is pretty smart."

Haskins grew up in Chicago, attending Francis Parker. She got the job at Current after a tip from her former next-door neighbor.

After graduating from Harvard -- a noble comedy tradition -- she honed her acerbic edge in Chicago's improv scene. After six years of ImprovOlympic and Second City, she moved to Los Angeles for a sort of fame.

"It's strange to see people talking about you" online, Haskins says. "It's a weird transition. I have not been recognized. I got to do an interview with NPR, that was fun. Hopefully that will justify all my mom's worries about going into comedy."

One possible obstacle to all-encompassing fame: There is already another, more famous Sarah Haskins, who is an accomplished triathlete.

"I think that's hilarious," says Comedy Haskins. "No, I really want her to do well in the Olympics. I was thinking of setting up a blog chronicling my attempts to do a triathlon."

That is, in her spare time, when she's not jerry-rigging low-budget effects, such as a wind machine. "What you don't see offscreen is that we had a not-quite-strong-enough fan," Haskins says. "We had a [production assistant] standing with it not four feet from my face."

No matter. The results were impeccably feminine. "When we get bigger ratings, we'll get a bigger wind machine," promises Haskins. "And dry ice."

Haskins is not in a relationship, unless you count her "nerdy" circle of friends. "I have some friends out here from Chicago and from college, and we watch 'Battlestar Gallactica' once a week and drink wine," she says. "Cheap wine."

She's making a name for herself by mercilessly making fun of commercials, but when asked which products she wouldn't mind endorsing, she doesn't hesitate.

"When I was acting, I was told I wasn't old enough to be a mom and not pretty enough to do anything else," Haskins says. "So I'll go with tampons. Tampons, they're great, right? We all use them."