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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Women aren't funny?

I feel extremely overwhelmed starting this piece of writing. I fear red hot lasers may shoot from my fingertips and melt my precious Macbook. I fear I may not cover all points intelligently and succinctly enough. I want to write it so well, I want you to all read this and have it ignite a fire within and perhaps change a few minds but I fear it may all turn into a steaming pile of ranty poo.

I will open proceedings with the following statement: I love comedy. I am a comedy nerd. I hang out with comedians. I work with comedians Im a "gag hag" if you will. 

I especially love female comedians. 

Let me reel off some of my favourite gals:

Sarah Silverman
Tina Fey
Dawn French
Jennifer Saunders
Amy Poehler
Joan Rivers
Kathy Griffin
Kristen Wiig
Margaret Cho
Ellen Degeneres
Rosanne Barr 
Amy Sedaris
Judith Lucy
Kitty Flannigan
Felicity Ward
Cal Wilson
Fiona O'Loughlin
Denise Scott

I know I will have missed some brilliant ladies, there are so many. These were just the ones off the top of my school holiday addled head. 

So we've established I feel overwhelmed at what I am about to tackle and that I love comedians of the female persuasion.

Deep breath Em.. 

When I hear a man say "I don't find women funny" or "Women can't be funny"  I am filled a red hot rage that burns like the heat of 1000 suns in the depths of hell. Shamefully enough, on the odd occasion, I have also heard a woman say "I just don't think women can be funny."

Last night on twitter I found myself ranting Kanye style after a male colleague stated there were no funny females IN THE WORLD. Big call. Some might say the call of a man who has deep seeded psychological issues related to a mummy complex he developed as a child - but I digress.

What followed were mostly tweets of disgust from my followers at his statement but what also cropped up was some of my male followers saying that all female comics talk about is menstruation, men and mothering. 

I'm not kidding.

Ben Henry
@EmRusciano there is more to comedy than periods, children and issues with men.

When I read things like this I wonder how Ben and others like him manage to put their pants on in the morning. Is this a common held belief? If you are a man reading this, look deep into your heart. Do you think women can be funny? DO YOU?! 

I wonder how extensive Ben's research is on the topic of female stand-ups? I wonder how many he has seen live? I also wonder when Ben was ordained King of Comedy. Because surely only the preordained king comedy could be allowed to write off AN ENTIRE GENDER and their comedic ability. It must be something about vaginas huh? Perhaps all the funny just fell out of us? I'm getting ranty now, let us get back on track.. 

In 2007 Christopher Hitchens wrote an article for Vanity Fare with the delightful title:

I have reason to believe this article may have been a piss-take, however for the purposes of attacking someone to prove my point... Let us press on!

I think my favourite part was when Chris said that ladies don't need to bother being funny as they have boobs and stuff to attract men so why bother with words.. Ok, so he didn't EXACTLY say that he said:

"Women have no need to appeal to men in this way-if you catch my drift."

Oh yes Chris, we caught your drift. I'd like to see your drift inserted in a place no drift should be inserted. Sadly Christopher passed away last year but I stand by my drift insertion request.

Among other things Christopher insinuated that women only use comedy to attract men. Of course! It all makes perfect sense. I know I only perform in the hope of impressing and trapping a man, that's definitely why Ellen Degeneres does it right? 

Just when you think he can't get any better, Christopher rips out this gem:

"MOST female comedians are hefty, dykey or Jewish." 

I know, what an enlightened man he was.

I'm not even going to bother with that one. 

Surely I don't need to. 

It's no secret that comedy is a male dominated scene. It's a burley, scary, tough world and in my experience you have to play by the boys rules because there are just so many of them. Men outnumber women on the comedy circuit a bazillion to 5 or something like that. 

Comedy is for the brave which is ironic as a lot of comedians are a tower of insecurity needing laughter to bolster their fragile egos. (Same applies to performers, I include myself here.)

I think a lot of women are capable of delivering excellent stand-up but they lack the encouragement and confidence to actually do so. I have also observed that audiences are more tolerant of a man bombing on stage than a woman. I think women are expected to kill it and deliver every time otherwise they are deemed "un-funny" forever.

Last year comedian/writer/actor/producer/queen of awesomeness Tina Fey penned an excellent memoir called "Bossypants." 

Of working with the Saturday night live writers she wrote:

"Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity."  

Interestingly enough Tina has a much more zen approach than I do to people who say women aren't funny:

“When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism … ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”
Good advice T (I like to pretend we are friends and that I call her T.)
Are women funny? Some are, not all.
Are men funny? Some are, not all.

I guess what I am ultimately trying to say is: let us judge what is and isn't funny by what happens on stage not by what happens in our pants.. 

Wait. I can do better.

Let us not get hung up on the gender of a comedian. Funny is funny whether it has a bulge in it's pants or in it's top.

Just don't say anything wanky like: "women can't be funny" It's beneath you. It's not true and you should probably get something done about your small penis. 



Kez said...

Awesome post!
I am a comedy buff and I love someone who is funny - regardless of gender.
The thing that kills me most is when WOMEN say all women aren't funny. Besides, I'm f*cking hilarious. I laugh at my own jokes ALL the time.
But seriously, saying women aren't as funny as men is the REAL joke.

bigwords is... said...

I even know men with large cocks who aren't funny. They are too busy relying on the size of their schlong to get them through life, rather than writing good jokes. xx

Anonymous said...

Kitty Flanagan proves the critics wrong every single week on the project. My favourite segment is still her one on social media when she talked about Facebook making us lazy and the inclusion of a yawn button. So funny!

Judd Exley said...

Em baby, I listened to you for almost your entire tenure at 92.9 here in Perth, and you're funnier than any 5 idiots they put in that slot.

Know what I think the key is? You're REAL. You don't need the quickest wit in the world, a catchy schtick or great tits, you just need to be able to show others that you look at your weird little world with a smile.

'Course, great tits don't hurt. Heh.