7 reasons why comedy needs more girls

We need more women in comedy.

The more women do comedy, the more women define comedy.

And “more women in comedy starts with more girls in comedy,” as tweet-noted by GOLD fan/fam Daniel Radosh, senior writer/producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (and formerly of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).

What’s the rush?

Change is happening in comedy RIGHT NOW, and you can help it happen faster.

Where we are: Dudes still dominate comedy, both onstage and behind the scenes. Comedy bookers are STILL weird about booking women, with female comedians STILL being told (directly or otherwise) that sorry, there’s “already a woman” in a given show. Female comedians in the trenches still get less stage time than their male counterparts. And! Only one female comedian—Amy Schumer—has ever made it onto Forbes’s highest-paid comedians list; that took until two thousand freaking sixteen. And no woman has made it since. This is why “it’s a terrible time” for women in comedy, according to none other than Tina Fey. As she told Town and Country, “If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.’”

As New York Magazine’s (and Good One podcast’s) Jesse David Fox noted: “The pool of stand-ups networks can draw from is largely based on already-established comics, meaning previous bias factors in, and it can be difficult for up-and-coming talent—especially women—to get noticed in the first place. The point being there need to be more female comedians progressing through the stand-up stages, and that will take time.” (So YOU! Start now!)

Where we’re going: “The emergence of new female voices over the past five years has brought us to a point where the importance of women in American comedy cannot be glossed over,” Yael Kohen writes, “and there is no going back.”

BOOM. Why? Because, Kohen notes, today we have:

  • Demand for points of view beyond those of white men.
  • The growth and dominance of niche audiences.
  • The power of social media to LIKE (or NOT)
  • YouTube, podcasts, etc. that enable creators to skip the middleMAN

“Women have been thriving in these alternative channels for years, and now that the alternative is the norm, female comedians are especially prepared to take advantage of a new climate,” Kohen writes. “Female comedians have always been ahead of their time; now, at last, their time is catching up to them.”

AWESOME! But why comedy?

We need more women in many professions, such as president of the United States, and Ghostbuster. But bottom line, comedy matters. So there are at least 7 reasons why women—starting with you!—matter to comedy.

Comedy is power.

When you tell jokes, you are in charge. You’ve got the mic, the spotlight, the punch. You can tell your story any way you want. That’s power. More women should have that. (More women—and people—of all colors and shapes and lifestyle choices should have that.) More women in comedy would mean that the default setting for FUNNY—and all the power and perks that come with it—would, and could, no longer be DUDE.

Women are a gender, not a genre.

Imagine this: You arrive to do a standup show. You find out you’re the only woman in the lineup. To introduce you, the emcee says: “And now we’ve got a laaady coming to the stage!”

Then you have a big job. A dude comic just has to spend the next eight minutes proving that he is funny. YOU you have to spend the next eight minutes proving that WOMEN are funny.

This is also why Aparna Nancherla says “‘What’s it like to be a woman in comedy?’ 1% jokes and 99% answering this question.”

More women in comedy would mean that each individual woman does not have to represent her entire gender, which no woman (or man, or person) can do anyway. More women in comedy would mean that people would finally stop talking about two kinds of comedy: comedy, and “women’s comedy.” Or two kinds of comics: comedians, and, God help us, comediennes. It’s numbers. We need enough women in comedy so that we’re no longer DIFFERENT, or INTERESTING. We’re just comics.

Comedy is business.

Comedy is work. It might be fun, and even funny, but—like ditch digger and yogapreneur—it’s a job.

So if you get treated differently from men when you do your job, that’s uncool, at best. Illegal, at worst. (You may also be aware that comedy also has a serious sexual harassment problem.) As with any other business, there’s individualized and institutionalized sexism (and other -isms and -phobias) that keep women (and others) down, sidelined, or out.

That’s bad for individual comics, and for business. Setting aside the discrimination and harassment, more women in comedy means more jokes! More jokes about more things! More jokes about more things from more than only 50% of the population! And more jokes means more laughs, which means more dollars. People should do more math.

Take it from movies: Among the 25 top-grossing movies 2006 to 2015, those about women “earned $45.5 million more than movies about men,” Mic reported, noting that 97 of those 133 movies are about men. “Only 36 are about women—the people who are the bigger box office draw. That’s not just poor representation, it’s also bad business.”

Or television! James Poniewozik on Why diverse TV is better TV: “Audiences for everything are smaller now, which means networks aren’t programming each show for an imagined audience of tens of millions of white people. On top of that, there are younger viewers for whom diversity—racial, religious, sexual—is their world. That audience wants authenticity; advertisers want that audience.”

More women in comedy makes everyone funnier.

Comedy, like almost anything else, is better with more voices.

And comedy especially benefits from more outsider voices. “Just as women have emerged as the leaders of the nascent [#resist] movement, so are women behind some of the sharpest political satire of the moment,” wrote Laura Zarum in Flavorwire. “Not because we’re inherently superior to men but because it’s easier to punch up when you’re already one rung down.”

That rising tide lifts all boats—even S.S. Straight White Dude. The magnificent Cameron Esposito breaks it down. “If you are a straight, white, 22-year-old dude and you do stand up comedy, there are a lot of you. So if you put a woman who is black and 35 in between two straight, white, 22-year-old dudes, those dudes look more interesting. They get to be a counterpoint, and that’s something that straight, white men rarely get to experience. Not only were the people that had historically less representation benefitting from being around more diversity, but the people who were in the majority were too.” (Extra credit: read this.)

Comedy has something to say.

Comedians are “today’s public intellectuals,” as The Atlantic put it. “People look to Amy Schumer and her fellow jokers not just to make fun of the world, but to make sense of it. And maybe even to help fix it.” (According to Salon, we also expect comedians, in the face of public tragedy, to “comfort us.”)

In a different Atlantic article, Megan Garber observes that much high-profile comedy today is “distinguished by the fact that it isn’t content simply to elicit laughter. It has an ethic and a vision, and strives to convince its audience of the rightness of that vision. Comedy that argues and insinuates and in general has Something to Say about the world.”

And if more minds could be opened to more ideas from more people who don’t necessarily look like them, we’d all be better for it. We’re talking to you, late night comedy. Sam Bee is lonely out there.

Funny women open people’s minds (including women’s).

If every single personal ad ever is any guide, we are all looking for a partner with a “sense of humor.” But science breaks that down a bit: “Women want men who will tell jokes; men want women who will laugh at theirs.”

In that same article (again with The Atlantic!), Olga Khazan writes: “The way men and women laugh and joke has been so different for so long that it’s hardened into a stark, oppressive social norm. Norm violators get punished, and often, that means funny women are punished, too. These biases have a chilling effect on women. The idea that women aren’t supposed to make jokes can trigger stereotype threat, a phenomenon in which simply telling someone that their ‘group’ tends to be bad at something hinders that individual’s performance. Told that their humor isn’t wanted, many women don’t bother.”

But it is wanted! Comedy: support and promote women, all kinds of women, and more women will “bother,” and more people will get used to it, and more people will watch more of your shows, and more people will PAY TO watch more of your shows.

More women in comedy means more women in comedy.

White dudes who try standup or improv invite their friends to their shows. Their friends are, perhaps, mostly white dudes. When white dudes in the audience see funny white dudes on stage, audience white dudes go, “I could do that.” Then those white dudes try standup or improv and INVITE THEIR FRIENDS. And: THE CYCLE CONTINUES.

Here’s the flip side. “Women are limited in our imagination by the things that we have seen women do,” says Cameron Esposito. “So if you just go to a room and you watch other women tell jokes, there is something that switches in your mind where then you realize that you can tell jokes. We also don’t see ourselves as presidents because we never have female presidents.”

Comedy needs more women—and more everyone—so that more everyone will get into comedy.

So what do we do?

Get more women into comedy.
How?

People with power in comedy should work hard to book women, hire women, represent women, and mentor women. They’re there.

Don’t just say “no one sent me any packets from women.” At this point, that’s just hacky. Just ask Trevor Noah. In a conversation with Lupita Nyong’o and the New York Times about hiring his writing staff, he said:

I said, “I want more diversity.” They said, “But this is what we’re getting.” So I went to all the young comedians I knew—black, Hispanic, female, whatever—and I said, “Are you interested?” And they all said: “Are you crazy? Of course, I’m interested.” So I asked, “Why didn’t you audition?” And they said, “We didn’t know about it.” But they told me they’d sent it out to all the agents and managers. And they all went: “Oh, that’s where you made the mistake. We can’t get agents or managers.” We can say we want diversity, but there’s this little roadblock that no one tells you about.

Agents and managers: go out of your way to agent and represent women. (And all sorts of people outside the mainstream.) That’d be a start.

GOLD likes to start even earlier by telling teen girls that it’s good to be funny. That you are already funnier than you think. GIRLS: Being funny means being exactly who they are already, just with a few more punchlines. Comedy is not what dudes do and girls laugh at. Comedy is YOURS. Whether you want to be standup funny, or YouTube funny, or improv funny, or Instagram funny, or funnier stump speech for class president funny, comedy is power, and that power is YOURS.

Read Lynn’s bio here.

How to collaborate in comedy with literally anyone ever

Sure, I do solo comedy. But I’ve been collaborating in one form or another for the majority of my life: sketch, improv, choreography, directing, producing, and working in writers’ rooms. I like both ways of working, and I think the best thing you can do for yourself is know how to do either one.

Finding a great writing partner, producing partner, or any other sort of comedy collaborator is a worthy goal. Working with someone else can make your creative life so much richer.

It can also make it a lot more complicated because now, instead of only navigating your own hang-ups, craziness, bad moods and assorted mishegas, you’ve also got someone else’s to contend with.

Add to that, there’s no playbook for a working relationship with your funny friends.

So I’ve written a little primer for you, replete with tips and tricks to remember as you bring collaborators into your (previously solo) process—and alphabetized for maximum adorableness.

Always encourage your collaborators and let them know when they’re doing a good job.

Between you and me” — Or maybe not. Gossip is toxic and will always come back to haunt you.

Constantly check in on deadlines to make sure that your partner knows what is due, when.

Deadlines are the only way. Create them for yourself. Little ones and big ones all along your path.

Everyone you meet is a potential collaborator. Treat people with respect (until they really blow it and then GTFO).

Forgive small mistakes. We are all learning. Learn and move forward and help your collaborators to do the same.

Give all of yourself to your projects or don’t bother doing them. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Have fun working together with your friends. When it stops being fun, notice — and make changes.

It’s okay to put yourself first. Make sure that you are not giving too much and getting nothing back. This should be an equal exchange.

Just say no to people who make you feel like garbage. You don’t need a collaborator who belittles you. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Kick butt. Celebrate. Relax. Repeat.

Lone writing is not a bad thing. It’s great to take a break from collaborators sometimes and do it all on your own. You’ll learn a lot. See which way you prefer.

Make friends with people whose energy and work ethic you admire. Talent is nice, but over time, work ethic and positive energy will take you further. Seek out people who are talented and have an indefatigable spirit.

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Speak up about your needs creatively, financially, and in terms of time management. Don’t let alpha personalities silence you, and don’t step on the voices of others either.

Open yourself up to your writing partner’s ideas. Accept notes. They will make your work better.

Put yourself in the shoes of your collaborator. How is s/he seeing this situation?

Quality over quantity when it comes to rehearsal and writing time. You can get a lot done in a short, focused period of time and surprisingly little done when you’re unfocused or your team is too chatty to do any writing.

Read. It makes you a better writer.

Stop comparing yourself to your collaborators. Their strengths complete your weaknesses and vice versa. You had the good sense to work with them, and that’s a skill unto itself.

Take care of your body. Don’t rehearse and write till all hours of the night. Sleep makes you more awake and therefore more talented and more FANCY.

Untangle complicated social problems as soon as you can. Don’t let bad energy fester in your group. Talk it out and get rid of it. Put the work first.

Vent your grievances to your journal or practice role-playing with another trusted friend before having a difficult conversation to your collaborator. Words matter.

Wait until the show is over to celebrate. It’s not over till it’s over. Stay focused. Eyes on the prize.

Xerox your scripts well before your rehearsal so that everyone has copies and you’re not scrambling for a Staples. By Xerox, I mean print. (Work with me here, people. X is a tough one.)

You are always learning, even though you’re already a superstar. Stay humble.

Zip Zap Zop is still a fantastic warm up for your sketch or improv group. Don’t knock it. You’ll never outgrow a game that’s all about focus.

And those are the ABC’s of Collaboration!

Tell us: Do any of these tips remind you of a good story? Let us know (keeping people anonymous, though. See the Gossip note above….) Failure and success stories welcomed!


Read Emma’s bio.


6 ways YOU can use humor today to benefit your workplace

While the “average” work week in the United States is supposed to be 40 hours, it feels more like two million. The 9-5 crowd spends a substantial portion of their life at their place of work, with people they might not ordinarily choose to be a part of their life. The result is often than in an effort to be businesslike, we tamp down our urges to joke around.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Being funny does not equate to being offensive or unbusinesslike. You can be professional, respectful, and hilarious, all at the same time. Your workplace is partly what you make of it, and you can create an amazing bubble of positivity and enthusiasm rippling out from yourself. Not only will it enamor you to your coworkers and benefit your workplace, it will also make you a happier camper.

Here’s what humor can do for you and your job — and how you can leverage its benefits.

When you’re trying to build confidence in your team.

Tell a joke or silly story, even if it is at your own expense. Like the time a raccoon broke into your apartment, you called the cops and answered the door in your Star Trek Captain Picard cosplay uniform because, in your freakout, you forgot to change (true story). Or reply to emails with a VEEP or Bridesmaids quote. Why? Coworkers will find you more approachable and feel confident in coming to you for help or asking a question. They won’t fear rebuke, and you’ll encourage their assertiveness.

When you want to build trust and camaraderie amongst coworkers.

Be the person in the meeting who accepts extreme eye-contact from coworkers as a silent affirmation they are not alone. Then slip them a WTF note with a good ol’ “hey girl, this meeting is whack but you aren’t.” You know that feeling when you are sitting in a meeting trying to look all normal on the outside, but in your mind you are screaming, is this happening? Does anyone else think what this person is saying is bananas? Use humor to defuse the situation and let coworkers know they can count on you to be normal, funny, and sane when they need it most. Because, if you’re anything like me, you desperately scan the room to try and make crazy-eye contact and without it, you may lose your mind.

When you need to release tension and stress.

Pass out third-grade-style valentines, leave funny anonymous post-it notes in the kitchen, or send out memes as responses to emails. Stress is contagious — but so is laughter. Create an alternative-humor oasis in the office that will bring tension down and remind people that it’s okay to blow off steam. A good laugh helps people relax, feel more positive about situations, and provides perspective. A workplace that decreases stress increases workflow and spreads the positivity.

When you want to reduce turnover.

Lead with a smile. Initiate a protocol that includes everyone creating a Simpsons avatar of themselves. Include cartoons and classic comedy movie clips (safe for work, of course) in materials and presentations. When humor is a baked into the company culture, it generates a positive and powerful work environment. That’s the kind of atmosphere that makes people want to stay, especially in industries usually notorious for their confrontational nature. Be the place people love to be, and they’ll stay loyal.

When creative thinking needs a boost.

Treat collaborations like an improv session. When ideas are in their infancy, yes-and them to help them grow. Allow yourself and your team to ask, what if … and then finish it with the biggest, wildest ideas out there. It allows people to think freely and quickly, and it lowers the voice of the inner critic, leading to more out-of-the-box ideas. There is truth in comedy, and ideas that at first seem goofy can be distilled into usable content.

When your company needs to stand out.

Include a clever quip, a joke, or cheeky graphic in your materials. Think about the kinds of advertisements, newsletters, social media, videos and marketing campaigns that you remember the most. (Want a great example? Take a look at Noble People. The more you look, the more you find.) Humor is humanizing. It makes your company comes across as more than just a brand.

Have anything to add to the list? Let us know @GOLDcmdy!


COURTNEY ANTONIOLI is a performer and storyteller who She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. @stolafprod

10 non-groaner ways to bring fun into your workplace

I once spent 16 months moving a 20-person non-profit across Manhattan and set up their space and systems from scratch, along with new policies to match. Sound like fun? Actually, I MADE it fun, and not just for me.  Because I am VERY FUN, and I am also very smart. You see, research suggests that “levity” at work is good for morale and good for business. And if you’re seen as someone who helps bring the fun, good for you!

Play name games…

Conference rooms

I worked at a company that named their three conference rooms after The Golden Girls. RESPECT. No “Large Conference Room 2” or Huddle Room room one.” for this joint!  When you went to reserve a conference room, you got to book  “Dorothy,” let’s say—and you got to amuse staff and guests every time.. “Your 2 PM is in Blanche Devereaux!” It never got old.

WiFi

WIFI names and password don’t need to be Guest or Welcome456. Name them after funny things that happen in office life, No Fish in The Microwave or Oops I Replied All.

Printers

 I worked in the operations for a small office.  We had a lot of printers. Five, to be exact. You couldn’t tell them apart. Who is going to remember HP-76876349 is the color copier or the small black and white? I didn’t, and I helped IT network them all for the staff. I decided to name each printer after the great Houses of Westeros.   Pro tip: House Stark is the black and white printer, because there is so little color in the north.  For bonus points, we should have printed and posted correlating sigils. Next time I will.

Passcodes

When our organization moved, we needed to set up new services, one of which was our IT help desk. The help desks requires a verification passcode when a user calls in.  That way they know what company you are from.  Instead of going with old faithful (the company’s name, snore), I opted for famous movie lines. I picked, “Houston, we have a problem” and “Welcome to Jurassic Park”.  Not only did staff smile when every time they said it, but we made the help desk’s day when we called.

 

Say it with pictures….

On signs

For example, offices often have “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign hanging in the bathroom and kitchens.  Replace the sign with a picture instead!  Use Buster Bluth from Arrested Development with his claw hand screaming, “I’m a monster!.”  I’d wash my hands to hang out and stare at the picture just a little longer, wouldn’t you?

In .gifs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the perfect .gif is worth like eleven thousand! Allow a culture that says it is okay to When appropriate, reply with a well-chosen (and SFW) picture or meme. I used to do it all the time. So much so, I had a desktop folder with my go-to pictures saved, ready to be dragged and dropped at a moment’s notice (time-saving tip!). Some go-tos in my catalogue were: Captain Picard’s “Make it so,” the face of Grumpy Cat, and Baby Fist saying “#Winning,” for when a coworker needed that extra boost.

On profiles

Take advantage of existing but underutilized technology. Most corporate companies use Microsoft Office or Gmail as their operating system. Adding a profile picture to your email is a universal ability, yet so few people do it. Why not implement the policy that your picture is, say, your celebrity doppleganger? (You can set the visibility of the photo to internal so that is really is only an inside joke.)

 

Make it interactive…

In the newsletter

We all log onto the company resource hub or get the weekly HR e-blast—which, let’s face it, is not a page-turner (unless you find notes like don’t forget to hand in your timesheet or remember to book the Dorothy Zbornak conference room via Outlook to be FULL OF SUSPENSE). Why not include quizzes like “Pick your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you what kind of cat you are”? The more people click, the more you know they opened it that day!

On the website

The website doesn’t have to be all biography and accolades. Why not throw it back to the early 2000s when surveys of random questions about yourself were all the rage?  You know, the ones that ask for your “last book read,” “what you did for your last birthday” or “goal you’d like to achieve this year.” Let each person answer a few different questions, and put it all up on the ABOUT US page.

 

Easter eggs: Always funny.

And it’s always Easter on the office-wide shared drive!

Everyone knows it’s a maze of folders and documents and you spend chunks of your day clicking around to  find the one thing you need. When I set up all those pathways, I made fake folders that contained little mysteries, with names like “Worst Cover Letters Ever Received” and “Money Hidden in the Walls.”  You can put some fake supporting documents in there too, if you want. Let it sit and say nothing.  Then wait until someone in the office finally brings it up! Pro tip: You can see the last time a folder was modified, so you can track who has looked!

So no more sitting in your cube trying to talk yourself out of #SadDeskLunch and realizing you haven’t had fun today. I’m here to share my own successful strategies for finding easy, free—and cringe-free—ways to use already existing policies, software, and procedures to bring good humor and fun to your office every day. There are opportunities all over the place, if you know where to look

Which one of these will you set up in your office? Have any to add to the list? Let us know! 


Courtney Antonioli is a performer and storyteller living in NYC. She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. She hosts monthly Golden Girls Bingo and does too many Tough Mudders. You can find her at @stolafprod.

 

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6 things everyone should know about comedy and depression

Here’s a common exchange.

Stranger: So, you’re a comedian?
Me: Yes.
Stranger: Are you depressed?
Me: I haven’t tried to kill myself today!

It’s a pretty rude question, but comedians hear it a lot. And I guess—if only in terms of math—it’s legit. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million U.S. citizens 18 or up had at least one major depressive episode in the year of 2015. That’s almost 7 percent of all adults. Or, put another way, if I had 100 M&M’s, but 6.7 of them were secretly Skittles. I’d bite into one of the Skittles like, “What the hell, bro, I was told this was chocolate and you know I hate surprises because they remind me that life is fragile and fleeting and I could die at any moment?”

My point: many people suffer from depression. And many people are comedians. Does that mean that many comedians are depressed? In pop culture, yes. What about real life? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? Are comedians tragic, broken people OR are tragic and broken just what’s funny?

Related: for my own part, I’ve noticed that doing comedy makes me feel both empowered and insecure. So, as a comedian/reader of Psychology Today who spends her lunch breaks wrongly diagnosing those around her, I thought it high time we get to the bottom of the sad clown stereotype—and also to ASK FOR A FRIEND about some ways of preserving your sanity while working as a comedian.

I talked to Matt Aibel, LCSW, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist (and a self-described “recovered performer”) based in New York City and Long Island who specializes in working with artists. Here’s what he had to say about comedy and mental health:

You may have to be a little crazy to be a comic, but that’s okay.

If you feel you didn’t get enough attention/appreciation/applause when you were younger, well, join the club. It’s a pretty big club, too. “We all need to feel recognized and appreciated,” says Aibel. “There are many ways to satisfy that need. Performing is a powerful pull.”

But comedy? Comedy is really hard. Bothering to do it instead of something easy means that at some level you need to do it—to “finally feel alive, to feel deeply recognized in a longed-for way,” says Aibel—is really strong. “Why else would someone subject his or herself?” he asks.

The problem is, the laughs may not be enough. “Performing is rarely enough to truly undo an underlying sense of inferiority or emptiness. That’s why the high of it is like a drug. When it wears off, you need another fix,” says Aibel. In other words, success is great, but it doesn’t necessarily fill the VOID OF SADNESS. (See: lots of successful comics and performers who self-destruct.)

BUT! Even if THE BIG EMPTY is part of what drives you, it may not be all that drives you. And that rawness and vulnerability, handled authentically, is comedy GOLD—partly because so many other people can relate. Always key, Aibel says: “Make sure you’ve got other things that help you feel good about yourself and about life, and loved ones whose presence can help you keep in mind that you have value outside of your performing success.”

Punchlines can help you process.

You know how they say “comedy = tragedy + time”? Here’s Aibel’s take on that: “A comedian who can slow down and stay present with challenging feelings benefits not only emotionally, but also in performance, by being able to hold the room in stillness or silence, as opposed to just barrelling along. That can make for a richer, more resonant act.” Laurie Kilmartin (45 Jokes About My Dead Dad) and Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) are two (of quite a few) masters at this—at using finely drawn humor not to deflect or make light of tragedy, but to authentically process and share it.

That’s an advanced move, we know. “Comedians may have a harder time slowing down and staying with uncomfortable feelings,” says Aibel. “Their impulse can be to discharge the energy of important feelings by converting it to a punchline or speeding along.” It can be funny, but it can also leave you stuck. If you want to experiment, try your darker, most personal stuff on friendly crowds (or just friends) first. Let them help you get comfortable and give it time to gel.

Learning to be a good comic can be like learning to be a good human.

“It’s powerfully gratifying to move others to think and feel—and feel less alone—through storytelling and performance. Not just for the ego but for the heart,” says Aibel. And learning how to connect with people, even from the stage, is possibly the most mentally healthy and valuable life skill there is, other than fixing phones after they’ve fallen into the toilet (plz help me.)

3 tips for staying funny and sane

Set goals you can control.

Aibel calls these “process goals”: Set goals around things you can actually do, like performing x number of nights a week, not things you can’t control—like getting a callback.  

Get a hobby!

When you’re a comic, your job is to be critical. How to stay positive, especially about yourself? Make sure you do stuff outside comedy that makes you feel in control and positive, says Aibel.

Find support—yes, even on a comedy “salary.”

Aibel’s reccos:

Read books.

Find a mentor: perhaps an older comedian whose approach and spirit you admire (but beware of “gurus.”) 

Be around PEOPLE: Supportive coaches, teachers, colleagues, and friends can make a big difference.

Try not to let your body go to sh*t. Or, as Aibel puts it: “Physical fitness, exercise, and healthy habits around sleep, food, alcohol and drugs are beneficial.”  

Quality low-cost therapy. New York and other cities offer solid low-fee/sliding-scale clinics through psychoanalytic institutes, and private therapists and organizations like The Actors Fund offer workshops and support groups.

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BLAIR DAWSON (intern, workshops) is a standup comic and improvisor who produces and co-hosts a monthly storytelling and stand-up show sponsored by Babeland called  “U Up?” @UrGirlBlair

How to be funny on Twitter

Much like a receding hairline, social media is here to stay. Apps like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the future ones inevitably invented by cyborgs—all hail Zorp!—are fundamentally woven into our social interactions. But with restrictions like 10 seconds or even 280 (?!) characters, there’s a lot of pressure to get so much in what can feel like so little…like trying on winter sweaters. On top of it all, people want you to be funny. FUNNY!? Help me, Zorp!! Well, as I say to my muffin tops, “Stop sweating,” because here are four steps to help you fit your funniest work into the tiniest spaces:

1. Find your message

Before you start dreaming about writing the best tweet in the history of Twitter, let’s start with the basics. Think about what you’re trying to say with your idea. This nugget does not need to be even slightly funny, just something you find amusing or strange or both. It can be a fact, an opinion, even an image you want to share.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” Not inherently hysterical, but absolutely a stepping stone to a joke. Also very true to me.

2. Pinpoint the funny.

Now that you know your message, you need to dissect what you think is funny about it. This is absolutely up to you, as your “truth” and perspective are what make you unique. Consider yourself a comedic snowflake.

Example: “I have short hair and get confused for a man.” This is funny to me because women in society are of course marginalized, but as a “man,” I’m afforded privileges that women aren’t. So instead of suffering from the realities of sexism, I’m benefitting from them? *Awkward shoulder raise* Also, being misgendered causes very awkward social interactions.

3. Make it short. Now make it shorter.

Now that you understand your message and why it’s funny to you, it’s time to write out your joke in a concise and punchy manner. Think about being stranded on an island—and yes in this scenario we can all be Tom Hanks—and writing a letter in a bottle. You would need to maximize each sentence in order to provide the most information. Or figure out a way to write in a smaller font on Twitter. ZING! Regardless of whether you’re writing comedy/drama, words are a currency that fund your message. Always think, can I say the same thing in one word instead of two? Which is actually a great exercise to apply for joke-writing in general.

Example:

Good: “I have short hair and strangers confuse me for a white man. And because I’m a Queer Latina, I love feeling the benefits of white male privilege.”

Better:  “As a Queer Latina, nothing feels better than being mistaken for a White man.”

4. Do your research, then do you #YouAreBeautiful #ChristinaAguilera  

Take a look at some of the writing and stylistic conventions that funny people use on Twitter. For example: hashtags, the use of understatement, all caps for emphasis, all lowercase with no punctuation, sentences that get cut off on purpose, abbreviations like tfw and tbh, etc. Test some for yourself, and see what feels comfortable—all as delivery systems for your own humor. But the main thing is to practice practice practice. Nothing happens in a day. Heck, it took God seven to make the world and there were still some kinks. So go on, write some jokes in the safety of your own homes/phones. Because a phone has never called anyone “sir”….yet? All hail Zorp!


LORENA RUSSI has created content for BuzzFeed and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and also hosted Chipotle’s Snapchat channel @Quesodigital

The 10 funniest “Saturday Night Live” sketches starring women

Many a super-famous comedian has been launched into the big leagues by the legendary Saturday Night Live. But our favorite SNL *cough* female comedians *cough* don’t always get the recognition they deserve. From Gilda Radner to Cecily Strong, the women of SNL have set themselves apart as the queens of sketch comedy. Break out the popcorn and rosé for what I think are the top ten SNL sketches starring badass women. (If you think I’ve missed one, throw a piece of popcorn at me and tweet it at @GOLDcmdy!)

1. Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna

If only all commencement speeches went something like this…

2. Kate McKinnon in Actress Roundtable

Host Margot Robbie couldn’t even wait until she was off camera to give McKinnon the laughs she so deserved.

3.Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

There’s no comedy chemistry like best friends playing worst enemies.

4. Kristen Wiig as the Target Lady

Classic Peg!

5. Bronx Beat with Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler

Let’s face it. We all know a few moms like Betty and Jodi.

6. Ana Gasteyer as Martha Stewart

Ana Gasteyer has Martha Stewart’s real recipe for success.

7. Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer

*Cue sad trombone sound effects*

8. Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong in Asian-American Dolls

Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong push the envelope in the pushiest way.

9. Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher

Aren’t we all Mary Katherine Gallagher?

10. Jane Curtin on Weekend Update

Aaaaaaaaand the buttons come off!

Tell us what YOU think!Click To Tweet


KAITLIN GOLDIN is a student, writer, actor, and devout McJew based in the Bay Area.  

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5 ways the internet has transformed comedy

Watch this clip! Download this podcast! HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN the latest episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?!? Thanks to the internet, comedy is EVERYWHERE—and it’s pretty much always screaming at you to take your funny vitamins. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, for both comedy and comedians? The answer: IT DEPENDS, OBVIOUSLY. Here are five key changes, according to me.

1. The internet makes performing easy.

In the immortal words of Aparna Nancherla: “Best part of internet: everyone has a voice. Worst part of internet: everyone has a voice.” In a comedy context, that means that the internet can help budding comedians—especially those in club-starved towns, or too young for THAT LIFESTYLE—find an audience, or help anyone with a YouTube account think they can become an overnight comedy sensation.

2. 140 characters is the soul of wit.

Or is it? Some, like Peter Serafinowicz, laud platforms like Twitter for forcing them to hone their one-line game. Others (see Martin Trickey) think this makes an audience too hard to work with the online audience craves instant gratification, and can only sometimes get it, leading to instant approval or dismissal of a performance.

3. It’s there…FOREVER.

The ability to replay and rewatch has led to increased scrutiny. That’s good, when it helps hold comedians like Tosh, Bill Maher, etc. accountable for inappropriate jokes. But it also opens up every last detail of a set for criticism. Internet hecklers don’t leave when the show’s over.

4. It makes for a bigger farm team.

Not every attempt to convert internet comedy to mainstream works (think Netflix specials like Haters Back Off). But comedians like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer originally started out on a web series. That’s where HBO’s Insecure came from, too. The Internet might not make everyone a star, but it is fertile new ground for talent.

5. It opens virtual doors.

The internet is high on bias, but also pretty low on red tape. This means that folks who normally come up against barriers to entry in comedy (sexism and racism, say!) can produce and share their own work, set their own terms, and build their own audiences. Best part of internet: everyone has a voice!

Tell us what YOU think!Click To Tweet


GILLIAN ROONEY is a teenage comedian and writer based in Connecticut and an alum of GOLD Comedy’s pilot workshop series.

What’s your sense of humor?

 

Just like a fingerprint, no two people have the exact same sense of humor. Humor is a very fluid and flexible personality trait that is constantly changing and adapting to new life experiences. What one person finds hilarious might make someone else incredibly uncomfortable. You know this if you’ve ever seen George W. Bush try to give a neck massage.

 

This quiz is designed to see which of the 6 main styles of humor—we’ll call them observational, satire, deadpan, dark, surreal, and slapstick—tickles your funny bone. It certainly doesn’t mean that this is the only kind of humor that works. (And it also doesn’t mean that there are only 6 styles of humor!) But it might give you a bit of a clue about what your own comedy style might be, which is can be a key element of your comedy persona. At very least,  it might point you in the direction of some awesome new comedians, movies, and shows to check out.

 

1. What’s your favorite punchline?

2. Favorite comedian?

3. What’s the deal with…?

4. Favorite SNL sketch?

5. What do you do to lighten a mood?

CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

Wedding reception bingo

There’s a certain time in every twentysomething’s life when there are just so … many … weddings. After a while, it may seem like there’s nothing to do but get hammered and make flawed makeout decisions. Fortunately, here’s a printable activity chart for you and your other troublemaker friends, which is why you were all seated together out on the patio in the first place. Happy hunting!


Read Amy’s bio here.