A funny thing happened on the way to the ladies’ room…
So, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about humor lately. Like, what makes something funny, and what does humor reveal about our true selves. You know, really light topics around uncomplicated topics. (Ha.)
It started, as many things do, with scrolling through my IG feed.
The @Netflixisajoke account usually makes me pause my scrolling. Even though I spend an embarrassing amount of time on social media (I’m lazy. And I have children. Those two things are my go-to excuses for all my questionable behaviors), it is, in truth, one of the few accounts on my feed that will make me pause and actually click on the “open in IGTV” link.
But, rather than a specific comedian, what caught my attention was the comments. The clip was from Urzila Carlson’s special “Overqualified Loser” and it was about guacamole, and, in my estimation, it was unquestionably hysterical. However, there were so, so many men commenting on her appearance, her age, etc., (you know, general grossness), but the ones that drove me nuts were about how women just aren’t funny. How Netflix must just be giving away specials. There were enough that it was bizarre. So, I scrolled back through some older posts, maybe two weeks worth. And every single time there was a female comedian, these same comments appeared. Over and over and over.
It made me wonder about that premise, so naturally I did a little googling. Yikes. If you want a lesson in misogyny (and really, who doesn’t?) I’d suggest that search.
But, I did come up with many more questions about the nature of female funny. There are some obvious stand outs in the genre of slapstick and physical comedy. From Lucille Ball and Carole Burnett to Molly Shannon and Melissa McCarthy, the women who have successfully taken on these “unflattering” and “unfeminine” roles are legends.
In stand up, it’s more ambiguous. Can they be mothers and funny? (Ali Wong) Can they be raunchy and still funny? (Leslie Jones and Samatha Irby) Unapologetic? (Amy Schumer and Tiffany Haddish) Are they even allowed to be beautiful? (Iliza Schlesinger) Political? (Samantha Bee) In charge (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey)?
Anyway, as a woman who writes right on the edge of comedy, (see what I did there?), I’ve decided it might be worth a little more exploration. I’ve listed a few books below in my home book collection that have just moved to the top of my #TBR stack. These are a few that I own that are either by or about female comedians (with links to the books), but I would LOVE your recommendations for others. And, also, your thoughts generally on women in comedy. Share!!
In love and laughter,
- Lucille Ball Treasures, by Cindy De La Hoz
- Bossypants, by Tina Fey
- Wow, no thank you, by Samantha Irby
- Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
- Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life, by Ali Wong
- The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish
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