Funny Ladies

Every time a female comedian is bad, I feel personally let down by them.

This is bullshit, because why should they carry my feminist ideals on their shoulders? They have it hard enough already, they’re female comedians. They already have people referring to them as “FEMALE comedians” – As if it’s a subgenre of comedy, female comedy.

Are women a subgenre of people?

Actually, don’t answer that.

But it is unfair, men are allowed to be terrible – and frequently are – and I don’t feel personally offended by it. I just kind of want my money back.

In an interview for Elle’s Women in Comedy issue, Rachel Bloom said “If you’re a woman and you make mediocre shit, people suddenly say women aren’t funny. If a man makes a bad thing, it’s that one dude made that one bad thing.”

So, it’s not just me, I’m part of a much bigger problem. Every time a comedian comes on the scene who happens to be a woman, everyone is waiting to see if she will disprove or reinforce the stereotype that women are not funny.

But why is this a stereotype in the first place? I mean, where did it start? There is no biological reason why there should be any gender bias when it comes to being funny, the male and female experience both lend themselves to hilarity. The fact is, penises and vaginas are equally funny. And we all fart.

And I KNOW women are funny. No lady comic needs to prove that to me, I have a shelf dedicated to books by female comics (Mindy Kaling, Miranda Hart, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler etc.), not to mention spending my time in stitches around my female friends. Still, I feel an anxiety when I see a lady take the mic that’s similar to how a parent feels when watching their child perform on stage. All I can think is “please be good!”. I want the audience to think she’s good. I’d never worry about a male comic in the same way.

Because I don’t care what he does. He’s going to be fine. Nobody is judging his whole gender based on his routine. Yeah, I hope it’s funny because otherwise I’m in for a dull evening, but afterward I’m not going to hear anyone say “I told you, men just aren’t funny.”

Tina Fey said it’s a “terrible time” for women in comedy, because men are still getting paid more for producing “garbage” while women are working harder and earning less. She was sick of being asked whether this was a great time for women in comedy, as if it was something we should be grateful for. You’re letting us be in a movie? Thanks awfully, mister! Can we make jokes and keep all our clothes on? Gosh, what a great time for women in comedy! She’s right, of course, we should keep pushing for more. The talent is there, just not the revenue.

So, I’m not going to lower my standards. I’m still going to feel frustrated when I see terrible female comics. BUT I’m reminding myself that terrible male comics hurt the cause as well. They’re taking stage space away from talented, hilarious women.

For the record, I’m literally never going to do anything about it. It takes a huge amount of bravery to stand up (ha) in front of people and try to make them laugh. I’d never openly disparage or discourage a woman (or man, or other) who has done that. So, I’ll be outwardly supportive. It’s not their fault that they are terrible.

Actually, it is their fault.

But it’s not my fault or your fault. It’s not Amy Poehler’s fault. It’s not Kate McKinnon’s fault. It’s not Amy Schumer’s fault. It’s not Ilana Glazer’s fault. It’s not Abbi Jacobson’s fault. It’s not Miranda Hart’s fault. It’s not Jo Brand’s fault. It’s not Dawn French’s fault. It’s not Sarah Millican’s fault. It’s not Mindy Kaling’s fault…

If you find yourself enduring a terrible comedy routine, please remember that the comic does not represent their gender – or their race, or sexual identity, or nationality, or whatever. They only represent themselves. The sooner everyone realises that, the better.

In the meantime, just smile through the clumsy phrasing and outdated references and think of Broad City. It will all be over soon.


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