Comedians: Killer Diller

Onstage comes something that, by its own description, looks like a sackful of doorknobs. With hair dyed by Alcoa, pipe-cleaner limbs, and knees just missing one another when the feet are wide apart, this is not Princess Volupi e. It is Phyllis Diller, the poor man's Auntie Mame, only successful female among the New Wave comedians and one of the few women funny and tough enough to belt out a "standup" act of one-line gags.

A 43-year-old mother of five who started out as a comedienne only six years ago, she now makes...

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