Women in comedy. Or not.

I think this also has to do with the fact that female-driven comedy is quirkier and not as much alpha-dog-in-your-face as male comedy. A lot of male comedy writers think women aren’t funny — when we’re just funny in a different way.

I mean, I think I’m pretty funny — but hardly anyone else does. (Or if they do, they’re not saying.) But I see the humor around me and could probably have written comedy. (How many other women do you know who were cracking jokes at their mother’s funeral?) But would male producers, used to hostile, slam-dunk comedy, think of hiring me? My guess is, no.

6 thoughts on “Women in comedy. Or not.

  1. Great read & ripe for discussion. While in-your-face alpha-male humor may be ubiquitous (tiresomely so, at times, and is it any surprise that this form has hitched its star to the bombastics zeitgeist?), the whole in-your-face dynamic can be poignant in a different context, say, as in the new Harry’s Law, dramedy in which Kathy Bates practices unapologetic lawyering that turns CW on its head re: morality & justice.

    As for other, more subtle, quirky energies, conveyances like improv on Whose Line, which features a mostly male cast with occasional female guests, have appeal due to the dynamics of the art form itself, regardless of the bio-sex of the cast. Indeed, to some extent, some of the best humor is catapulted by gender hijinx. Moreover, the players’ alacrity, subtlety and uber-responsiveness could be characterized as expert-level yin interplay giving a yang punch at its finest.

    As for female comic writers-in waiting, my guess is that most are up to their eyeballs in serious political writing and social causes, cause there is plenty to say. Perhaps women with such potential will give themselves a break from the grind, if only part time, to pen some powerful stuff. It would be a gift to themselves and the rest of us, too. Kathy Bates is giving cause for wry, justice-driven grins, but admittedly the category is courtroom drama. Somewhere, there’s a corner of the stage with a spotlight waiting to be discovered. Go for it.

  2. P.S. Stating the obvious: Of course the whole gist of improv is that the cast works from game frames, there is no script. (Which is probably one reason I like it so much – talk about organic). Likewise, I’ve made an intuitive observation that within tightly-scripted arenas (fill in the blank), stereotypes abound. (Note: Talented female comedy writers typically aren’t found anywhere near there.) There’s something in the organic-inorganic continuum that relates to the OP’s thesis, vis-a-vis, traditionally left-brained-ness, literature (linearity, and to some extent predictability) as a communication form, and gender dominance. That’s not to say that the status quo is inevitable and unchangeable. The “rather healthful sense of humor” (Modern Problems) is evolving, just like everything else.

  3. i’ve always enjoyed female comedy, from the Carol Burnett show when i was little, to Joan Rivers (who i still enjoy) to Sarah Silverman. It’s disappointing that there’s such a gender imbalance, because there are so many hilarious women out there.

  4. There’s also a generation gap in comedy. So much of even what Jon Stewart uses, as material, is based on audience stupidity. As in: Those foreigners, aren’t they wacko! They don’t even speak unaccented English! Now, this has always existed to some extent, even back in Vaudeville. But jokes based on cultural ignorance are so much more mainsteam today. Why did Limbaugh think that 30 secs of mock Mandarin was a knee slapper? Maybe because most of his audience was raised with neither geography nor history classes. (Though Steve Martin’s and Dan Ackroyd’s wild and crazy guys was equally dumb.)

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