I am so sorry to see that Phyllis Diller has died. She was a comic genius.

Ms. Diller, who became famous for telling jokes that mocked her odd looks, her aversion to housekeeping and a husband she called Fang, was far from the first woman to do stand-up comedy. But she was one of the most influential. There were precious few women before her, if any, who could dispense one-liners with such machine-gun precision or overpower an audience with such an outrageous personality.

One chestnut: “I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they’d boo.”

Another: “I never made ‘Who’s Who,’ but I’m featured in ‘What’s That?’ ”

Ms. Diller, a 37-year-old homemaker when she took up comedy, mined her domestic life for material, assuring audiences that she fed Fang and her kids garbage soup and buried her ironing in the backyard. She exuded an image that was part Wicked Witch of the West (a role she actually played in a St. Louis stage production of “The Wizard of Oz”) and part clown.

In her many television appearances she would typically sashay onstage wearing stiff, outsize, hideous metallic dresses (she did this, she said, so she could lie to her audiences about the state of her body, which was really trim and shapely); high-heeled shoes or boots studded with rhinestones; and a bejeweled collar better suited to a junkyard dog or a fur scarf that she claimed was made from an animal she had trapped under the sink.

In a classic example I well remember from my childhood, here she is in “The Pruitts of Southampton”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–fk7HzTipI&feature=related

Her famous book on housekeeping was a lifelong influence on me.

And for the politically inclined, her roasting of Ronald Reagan is a classic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF30wZpift0

Sometimes I wonder whether humor is mortal too.