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Woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough

Comedy veteran Kightlinger scores with current project

Laura Kightlinger is a very funny woman with a very bad attitude — and it’s working for her. To some, it might appear that the 37-year-old creator and star of IFC’s “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” is living every comic’s dream, with her own show on a network that encourages inappropriateness and vulgarity and, she’ll admit, “I am nothing if not inappropriate and vulgar.”

But Kightlinger has an uncanny ability to see the glass as half empty and then drink from it anyway. When her publicist called about this article, she heard the word “women” and wondered, “What is it, 10 women who are barely getting by?”

Raised in Jamestown, N.Y., by a pessimistic single mom who had more boyfriends than her daughter, Kightlinger got her start on the stand-up comedy circuit in Boston before becoming a staff writer on hit TV shows such as “Roseanne” and “Will and Grace,” on which she did punch-up and had a recurring role as Sheila the nurse. She was also canned from a job playing Tom Arnold’s wife on his short-lived series before they even shot the pilot, and suffered the ignominy of being a member of “Saturday Night Live’s” cast during its notorious worst season ever (1994-95), the one that nearly drove Janeane Garofalo mad.

Much of this history is detailed with withering wit in her self-described “rejection collection” book “Quick Shots of False Hope,” which Kightlinger is adapting into a screenplay that focuses on her teenage relationship with her mother. She also appeared on the just-canceled HBO show “Lucky Louie” and somehow found the time to direct a documentary, “60 Spins Around the Sun,” about her friend Randy Credico, a comedian-turned-political activist. She says she thinks she was attracted to the project “because his life seemed like more of an exercise in futility than mine.”

Fortunately, no matter how much of a failure this bona fide rising star perceives herself to be, she will always be better off than wannabe screenwriter Jackie Woodman. Partially inspired by Kightlinger’s experiences in Hollywood over the past 10 years, the show, which appears to be headed for a second season although no official announcement has been made, has been hailed for its outrageous, feminist slant. Kightlinger, herself a feminist, disagrees with the distinction. “I think of it as a buddy comedy about two losers who happen to be women.”

Still, the almost uniformly rave reviews must be good for her ego, right? “When the show started getting good reviews,” Kightlinger remembers, “I read something in the trades, and it said something like, ‘her time has come.’ And for a second, I thought that there was a hit out on me.”

Well, you can’t say she’s not creative.

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