ok, let’s actually talk for a second instead of me just posting events and shit. about women in comedy!

i found this vaguely irritating article about women in comedy because i’ve been getting excited about going south to this women’s comedy festival this weekend. festival woo! lots of funny people!! i’m a bit nervous… and growing more so. we will see how i fare down there.

but that is not the point! this related article is:

No Women Featured in NY Comedy Festival! No Joke!

it’s an article from the huffington post  and it just has rubbed me the wrong way, and i’m not entirely sure why. i guess first because it’s like a cut-and-paste Feminist Report on Women in Stand-up Comedy.  it has everything it’s supposed to have:

a litany of “first women to” names and dates,
assertion that a gentleman of unenlightened thinking only considered women to be “baby-making machines,”
a reference to eleanor roosevelt,
an Appropriate Mention to Women Of Color (wanda sykes),
the use of the phrases, “You Go Girl!”, “Get out!”, and “Not!”,
and a bulletted Call to Action.

that’s the bulk of it…

aha! i just figured out why i’m miffed with it. yes the cut-and-pastiness, and the catch phrases. but more because there’s nothing about art and nothing about being funny in this article! the author doesn’t seem to have anything to say about what women are talking about – or men for that matter. this woman doesn’t give a shit about being funny. she cares about filling a quota. she just wants the numbers to be even and then everything will be right with the world. that’s fucking dumb.

are there more women starting comedy than we think but fewer make it? do they quit early at a higher rate, do they just exist but without the ability to get work? some kind of actual information would be useful. or let’s talk about why things that women think are funny are not funny to men, or why we persist in thinking that when it’s clear that all that kind of thing is breaking down anyway. the kinds of things that men are talking about, the things that women can say that men can’t and vice versa. let’s talk about how it’s weird to create small niche interest groups (Women Comics and Black Comics and Gay Comics and Hispanic Comics) because grouping like that is usually a way for big companies to sell small things more easily, and how often is that ever good for new ideas and realness?

i think out of the ideas in the article it’s mostly the quota thing that bugs me. who wants to be on a stage to make sure the numbers are even? maybe that is how it has to be to get over prejudices… but that seems to me like it would perpetuate that stereotype, that quota-filling allows men (and women!) who don’t want to think women are funny to write them off as the requisite broads who didn’t have to work as hard because they had secured spots. when of course they are working as hard, everyone’s working as hard as they’re gonna work, but the perception is that the women did not earn their spots and thus the problem persists. grr it’s a problematic problem.

yes it is kind of absurd that there are no women comics on a major festival (although …–

breaking news at this hour: this article is an ultra-irritating ruse because the headline says “No Women in New York Comedy Festival” but the first line actually says “The New York Comedy Festival ad features ten men and no women.” upon investigation there are women in the festival, just not any headliners, i guess. there is the show afterbirth, which is about parents and thus of course has a number of women in the cast. why not just say that?? frump.

so THIS is why i feel weird about going to the women’s comedy festival… i don’t know. of course i think it is good to spotlight women in an entertainment field where women are few and far between. i had a really good time not advancing in the san francisco women’s comedy competition this year, and i’m really excited about this weekend. it’s always awesome to group performers in different ways to see what is the same and what is different with them. this article just made me irritated is all, and i had this donut i had to eat so i had to distract myself with words… no resolution, no reason, nothing is settled or illuminated. typical. good night for now friends.


6 thoughts on “ok, let’s actually talk for a second instead of me just posting events and shit. about women in comedy!

  1. I’m with you on the niche groups, seems like there are definitely styles of comedy that appeal more to one niche over another, but they are certainly not dictated by race or gender….

    The arguments you put forth about the quota are the exact same ones given by opponents of affirmative action. I still believe the positives of affirmative action outweigh the negatives in the education system or the workplace, etc. But I’m struggling to apply those positives to a comedy festival.

    The biggest difference to me is that in the education system/workplace, most minorities get effed equally (or at least to a strong degree). In some comedy festivals, it’s almost like being a minority or having a disability, etc., gives you an edge. The only minority excluded from this is women. Is that a completely wrong assessment? I don’t mean to say that other people are deemed funny when they are not, just because of how they are ‘different,’ I just mean that event coordinators (and audiences) love it when their comedian has some defining characteristic, so they look harder, and give more chances.

    Except with women. You can’t just be a funny woman, you have to be FUNNIER than everyone else. You have to work in extremes, either conform or react. Because women are so singled out, it does seem like forcing events to present them through some quota would cause more resentment. At the same time, I could see someone make a case for the opposite – that women are so overlooked, if we force them to look at us, at least they are LOOKING, and listening. Otherwise, the only women who get through are the ones who sound the most like men (like Sarah Silverman) or the ones who appeal most to the fringe…. women don’t get to be just straight up comedians.

    That said, it does seem like there is much more support lately for female comedians that lie in the middle of that spectrum: Maria Bamford, Natasha Leggero, Tig Notaro, Kristen Schaal… so maybe things are turning around.

  2. yeah…. i dunno. it’s all the same thing as it always is. what even is the ultimate goal of this all? is it demographically appropriate representation that just happens naturally? art’s all cultural-based so assuming that everyone is going to try each medium in equal parts doesn’t seem likely. but maybe that is how the problematic status quo. i’m part of the problem.
    and i feel like i contribute nothing to the debate, maybe that’s why it bothers me. it has been said before so much. i can’t figure out the mu, the stuff i’m not thinking about.

    i feel like a gender traitor for liking more dude comics than lady comics, but maria bamford’s the only one in my top 10. i’m probably brainwashed already. and so then does that make me a female-ish comic who might get laughs because i’m more mannish in my content, because i’m just kind of dirty? am i harming ladies more than anyone, just by existing? :/ i worry about this. i worry about most things, really.

  3. Wow are you not harming lady comics. And I like more dude comics as well, but if you really want to worry about the math, I suppose you could argue that you like a greater percentage of female comics that are out there than you do of male comics that are out there!

    Honestly, I think that the artform has been mostly men, historically, and that the first generation of a new demographic, in this case women, is always gonna be reactionary. Therefore, one million ladies presenting the polar opposite style, and the style most of us don’t like. I don’t think that means what we like is mannish, we just didn’t like either extreme necessarily. I think it means that women are becoming more mainstream that there are women comics who just say funny shit and aren’t specifically doing “girl comedy” or “boy comedy.” Like Maria Bamford. Whom I would marry.

  4. unfortunately you cannot marry maria because i already called shotgun on that one. (yes that makes it a shotgun marriage. hooah!)

    i do like mannish. =) but yeah. i was thinking too that like, i don’t think there are many women who are funny. but i also don’t think there are many men who are that funny. men just don’t seem to let that keep them from doing stand-up.

  5. hmmmmmmmmm you called me on it. now i have to make the list. “i can listen to them over and over at this moment in my life” is i think the title of this one.

    – eddie izzard (will always be number 1)
    – bill hicks
    – mitch hedberg
    – maria bamford
    – bill burr
    – louis ck
    – pete holmes
    – neil hamburger
    – david cross
    – paul f. tompkins
    – will franken

    that’s 11. oh well. what are yours?

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