Why comedy is good for girls and women

 

 


Why Comedy Is Good For Girls

Picture the class clown.

 

You totally just pictured a dude. Right?

 

When it comes to comedy, men are the norm. Men are comics, women are “female comics.” Men are comedians, women are “comediennes.” (SHUDDER.) Often, even, comics are men named Norm!

 

Many of these dudes are very funny. (Except maybe that class clown. Give it a rest, Norm!) That’s not the issue. The issue is that powerful cultural messages still suggest that women aren’t funny, that girls should be polite and FOCUS ON THEIR GRADES and whatnot and not even try.

 

That’s changing, which is good. We would like to make it change FASTER.

 

But that’s not why YOU should do comedy.

You should do comedy because you WANT TO, or at least want to try and see what it’s like. You should do comedy—in whatever form is a fit for you—because it’s GOOD for you. But not just in a kale sort of way (though that, too). You should try comedy because it’s fun. You should try comedy because you have a smart take and unique perspective and something to say. You should try comedy even if you think you are shy or not that funny. You should try comedy because it will help build seven tons of important skills that will look good on your college applications, your resume, and your life.

 

“Comedy helps you practice communication, confidence, bravery—how to live in the moment, how to process challenges, how to survive failure, how to get up there without a script: pretty much everything we try to teach girls, all rolled into one,” says girls’ leadership coach Laurie Wolk.

 

You should try comedy because finding your funny means finding your voice and making it louder, finding your strength and making it stronger.

 

“Finding your funny is finding yourself,” says Lynn Johnson, founder of Go Girls!

 

Comedy does all that? It seriously does.

 

Let’s break it down.

Comedy is power.

“Comedy is pure power. You’re up there by yourself. You’ve got that mic,” says Susie Essman. (Adam Sandler says the same thing in The Wedding Singer, though less delicately.) Literally and metaphorically: when you tell a joke, you are in charge. You are the one delivering the reveal, the delight, the fresh take. You’re wielding the massive power of surprise. You’re expressing your point of view in an especially potent way. Or, as Joan Rivers put it: “You’re commanding them to listen to you.”

 

And on a good day/night, they’re not just listening. They’re laughing. Says Jamie Masada: “Making someone laugh is the greatest power any human being can have! “

 

That power is especially key for girls and women. Things are changing (if selectively, and glacially), and there are a zillion exceptions, but girls and women are STILL socialized to be (expected to be and rewarded for being) quiet, acquiescent, and polite, while boys and men are encouraged to be (and/or excused for being) loud, opinionated, even combative. As gender issue expert Soraya Chemaly puts it:

“We socialize girls to take turns, listen more carefully, not curse, and resist interrupting in ways we do not expect boys to. We generally teach girls subservient habits and boys to exercise dominance.”

And indeed, dudes tend to dominate conversation in both workplaces and classrooms from grade school to law school. (Study upon study shows that girls and women get interrupted more than boys/men, even on television.)

 

Know what can help break those habits—for you and those around you? Humor. Whether your style is aggressive or subdued, humor means owning, expressing, valuing—and sticking to—your point of view.

 

Participant of GOLD’s pilot comedy workshop for girls

 

At very least, humor can help shut down interrupters. Hey, they’re just a heckler, and you’ve got the mic. (Or, as Naomi Ekperigin likes to say, “I have the talking stick, sir!”)

 

But it’s not only about fighting for screen time in the moment. Comedy gives you a powerful new way of speaking, making yourself heard, and taking up space, in the first place.

 

“Comedy gives girls a new way for people to hear about their experiences,” says Rosalind Wiseman, author of (among many other books) Queen Bees and Wannabes—which formed the basis for the movie Mean Girls—and founder of Cultures of Dignity. “Girls are out there for people’s scrutiny all the time, especially physically. With humor or comedy, they’re in a different kind of spotlight—one that they get to define. Comedy lets them say, ‘What I think is important.’ It gives them a new and different way to claim authority and power.”

 

Wiseman believes that because girls (and women) are in the perfect place to claim the power of punching up. “Comedy can help girls process what it’s like to be a girl in this culture and give voice to it. I would love to see girls use biting humor to expose how messed up things like the hookup culture and school dress codes can be, and not even necessarily in the ways people assume,” she says. “Girls have such power to be the comics we really need: the courageous ones, the people who are bearing witness to the absurdities around them, and to the hypocrisy of the adults in their lives—parents, teachers, or politicians.”

 

Elsa Waithe teaching comedy workshop

Comedy helps you tell YOUR story.

Comedy isn’t only about clowning and being silly, even when it is. Comedy (especially, but not only, standup) requires you to find and hone your authentic persona. Of course, comedians spend years developing and refining their personas. But you’ve got to start somewhere.

 

Even for beginners, the jokes that will work best are the jokes that only you could write. We can all write jokes about weird teachers or strange habits or that ridiculous night of margaritas and slapstick in a homemade hot tub in the Idaho wilderness with three cowboys named Shane, Cody, and Shane (redacted; that was just me), but only YOU can have YOUR take on YOUR family, school, job, life, etc.

 

And what’s extra powerful here is that the best comedy will come from who you already are, not who you want to be or wish you were or will be if you only try harder. When it comes to your persona, you might wind up exaggerating it, just a bit, but you’re not inventing it. So if you’re shy, or awkward, or think you’re too much this or too little that, well, BOOM. That thing you think is “wrong” with you or “weird” about you, or that you maybe wish you could fix, IS your persona. You don’t have to change it. In fact, please don’t. Better yet, you should double down. Because what makes you different is what makes you funny, and what makes you funny is what makes you strong.

 

Here’s a great example from (an article about GOLD ComedyTM #humblebrag in) New York magazine: “Thea, 13, feels like she doesn’t fit in at school. While the other kids obsess over ‘memes and anime’ and think ‘books have gone out of style,’ she’d rather read than do pretty much anything else. In her [standup] performance, Thea plays up her bookishness, using a high-pitched voice as she deadpans a joke about her classmates: ‘I don’t know all their names, but I do know their test scores.’ Comedy helped Thea turn her feelings of “being too uncool,” she says, “into something cool.”

 

What helped Sara Benincasa embrace her true self? Oh, nothing—just comedy. “I tried to play-act at being a woman,” she says. “This false me was always pretty and always ready for anything, and fun, and carefree. The real me had a lot of things to say. The ‘me’ I created was not bold and outspoken. She was not very funny.” Becoming a comic, she says, forced her to be authentic, onstage and off. “I had to be myself or the audience wouldn’t accept it.”

Comedy boosts resilience + confidence.

“You can’t be perfect and funny. Perfect isn’t funny,” says Lynn Johnson, founder of Go Girls!

(So true. THAT is why I am EFFING SIDESPLITTING.) “Being willing to recognize the humor in your humanity and the mistakes that you make strengthens your resilience. It allows you to accomplish so much more.”

 

That’s especially powerful for women and girls, who “are under incredible pressure to be ‘perfect,’” says girls’ leadership coach Laurie Wolk. But cultivating a comic perspective, she says,” helps them to see that life doesn’t have to be so serious. They can make mistakes—and see that they survived to try again. It makes them practice being brave, which yes, takes practice. Comedy gives them a big exhale.”

 

See, comedy doesn’t just allow for mistakes. It requires mistakes. It encourages risk-taking. It forces you to try things out—in public!—without being 100% sure they’ll work. It helps you realize there’s only so much of a situation you can control, which is a highly annoying yet extremely healthy realization. It’s a really safe place to fail. No one ever died from not getting a laugh.

Comedy is good for your brain.

Cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems, Ph.D. found that people exposed to comedy are better able to solve creative problems. He says: “Comedy is like mental exercise, and just as physical exercise strengthens the body, comedy pumps up the mind.” And that’s just from watching a lot of comedy (which we highly recommend).

 

Bonus: NEVER FORGET that laughter apparently improves memory

Comedy improves your writing skills.

Listen to any comic and hear how much information they convey in how few words. Listen to their use of specificity and detail. Listen to how they use words to show you what happened, not just tell you about it. Listen to how they order their words in a sentence. Narrative flow, word choice, vivid descriptions, punchy sounds: that’s not just abstract “funny”—that’s the rigor of writing. Writing, and a ton of rewriting.

 

That’s how comedy is the best thesaurus. It teaches you to find the exact right word. The right length, the right sound, the right meaning. Comedy teaches you to say exactly what you need to say: no more, no less. Comedy makes you an ace editor. As you write, and rewrite, you get better and faster at turning 50 words into 40 into 10 perfect gems. That’s why Kerri Louise teaches students to imagine that they’re writing their jokes as tweets: “Keep taking out words until the joke fits into that little box!”

Comedy improves your speaking skills.

Says Colin Lingle, Ph.D., experienced improviser and expert in political communication and civic engagement: “Building your disparate ideas into a coherent story, especially a funny one, is not the work of slackers and half-wits. Telling jokes to a live audience tunes your senses to how people react and respond as groups. This invaluable information can shape your entire life. Its like training for the Olympics of Standing Up in Front of People. Once you learn it, any other venue seems like mini-golf, at worst.”

 

Comedy is perfect for shy people.

So many people say, “Oh, I would do comedy, but I’m too shy.” You’re shy? PERFECT. Because fun fact: COMEDIANS ARE SHY.  Why do you think they like to talk on stage, or wear giant funny mustaches? So they don’t have to talk TO PEOPLE. Seriously. Carol Burnett, who describes herself as shy, has said she can perform only when she’s in character. Joan Rivers–yes, Joan Rivers—has described feeling uncomfortable chatting in real life, one on one.

 

Also, your comedy can be ABOUT how shy you are. (See “Comedy helps you tell YOUR story,” above.) Just think how many people in your audience will relate to it. And not come up and tell you that afterwards! HA!

 

So don’t do comedy to “fix” your shyness—but know that it can’t hurt. “Comedy is contact sport for your ego,” says Says Colin Lingle, Ph.D., experienced improviser and expert in political communication and civic engagement. “Confront a room full of skeptical sourpusses, and you will find that its subsequently much easier to join in any conversation. After all, youve been in an actual spotlight, so metaphorical one is a walk in the park.”

 

Aparna Nancherla

Comedy helps address tough topics.

Says Aparna Nancherla: “Humor opens a lot of conversations that would be difficult or sensitive to have otherwise.” This doesn’t mean that comedy is or should be used to trivialize the significant. It means that comedy—a shared laugh, a bit of levity—can ease the way into topics that might otherwise put people on the defensive, or cause them to disengage entirely.

 

Here’s how Iliza Shlesinger puts it: “You can shroud an ‘agenda’ in comedy, and it’s more digestible. Of course the laughs come first, but the message is, once I’ve gotten you laughing, I want to get you thinking.”

Comedy helps you deal with tough stuff.

Laughter relieves stress, this we know. But comedy is also power—over pain.

 

“My race and gender have been the source of a lot of pain in my life so I use humor to reassert power over the things I feel least funny about,” says San Francisco standup Allison Mick.

 

How does that work? “Comedy is almost a form of cognitive therapy,” says Leslie Sokol, Ph.D., author of Think Confident, Be Confident and Think Confident, Be Confident For Teens. (Sokol is also a cognitive therapist and founding fellow/past president of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, so that is not just a random metaphor.) When you write a joke about—or at least search for the humor in—something painful, she explains, you force yourself to examine it, hold it at a distance, separate yourself from it, stop it from taking you over. Over time, she says, “it pulls you toward a less negative, more healthy perspective. Comedy helps you cope.”

 

It worked for Annika Kastetter, a sketch comedy writer and performer at Colorado College.

“When I first became involved with comedy my freshman year, it was one of the worst times of my life,” she says. “It was a saving grace that I was able to find this thing that had such a positive and uplifting effect on me and the way that I viewed the way things were going around me.”

 

For Kate Lindstedt, comedy actually helps her manage depression and anxiety. She writes: “When I tell people I do comedy, their first instinct is to praise my courage. The more I elaborate about my act, the more their astonishment grows. Isn’t it scary, talking about depression and anxiety in front of so many unfamiliar faces? But the truth is, talking about my mental illness in a room full of strangers is much easier than talking about it with people I actually know.” Lindstedt is not messing around; she literally makes jokes—rueful, dark jokes, but jokes—about cutting herself. It works, in all sorts of ways. “When I make it funny and the audience laughs, they’re laughing both with me and at me. I am also laughing at me—at the me who didn’t know any better,” she says. “Laughing and talking about it as though it’s firmly in the past helps me to actually leave it there.”

 


Moms Mabley – James Kriegsmann, Anne Meara – Nicole Rivelli/Starz, Jean Carroll – Photofest, Lucille Ball – Getty Images, Miss Piggy – IB Times, Joan Rivers – Aurora aAwards, Carol Burnett – CBS, Whoopi Goldberg – AP, Marilyn Martinez – Payaso Entertainment, Margaret Cho – Brown Political Review

7 reasons why comedy needs more women and girls

By Lynn Harris

 

We need more women in comedy. Of course, we need more women in every profession, such as president of the United States, and Ghostbuster.

 

And, of course, there have always been women in comedy– see photo above.

So what’s the problem?

Aren’t people saying “it’s a great time for women in comedy?”

Yes, but those people are not necessarily women in comedy.

OK, it’s better than it used to be.

Here are some colorful moments from how it used to be!

 

  1. Johnny Carson, the “comedy establishment’s king”—who had the power to make careers with an invitation to chat on his TV couch—made publicly clear that he didn’t like female comedians. When Elayne Boosler finally landed a spot on his show, his staff tried to replace her well-honed set with jokes such as “‘I’m so ugly, I can’t make a nickel on a battleship.’” WHICH I DON’T EVEN GET. After her set, Carson reportedly told his booker, “I don’t ever want to see that waitress on my show again.” (For more anecdotes like these, read Yael Kohen’s We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy.)
  2. People got super weird about Lucille Ball being pregnant on TV, because SQUICK LADY PARTS.

But it’s not better enough.

Yes, AND. 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.

And just recently, people got weird about Ali Wong telling jokes while pregnant, which, while hard work, is not like winning the Australian effing Open while pregnant. (In fairness, it is very “rare and unusual to see a female comic perform pregnant,” as Wong herself said. “Because female comics . . . don’t get pregnant.”

It’s funny because it might as well be true. Because comedy, like almost all other businesses, is still set up to favor the gender that generally doesn’t get pregnant, which is one of the reasons we don’t have enough women in comedy, and thus one of the reasons comedy needs more women. SEE?

Also! Female comedians in the trenches still get less stage time than their male counterparts. Only one female comedian—Amy Schumer—has ever made it onto Forbes’s highest-paid comedians list; that took until two thousand freaking sixteen.

 

This is why “it’s a terrible time” for women in comedy, according to none other than Tina Fey. As she recently 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.'”

So let’s do this thing.

As for female comedians on television, the numbers are getting better. Comedian Sara Schaefer (she of the genius Vagenda) did the math in 2016, noting that the percentage of Comedy Central half-hour specials going to women had risen from 8 percent in 2012 to 29% in 2016.

Not bad! But slow. 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.”

At least people are noticing in the first place. “More and more, places like SNL, late night shows, and major primetime network series are being called out for their lack of diversity, Splitsider reported. “Variety recently broke down the low number of female showrunners on the broadcast networks, The Atlantic examined women’s progress in standup with the article ‘Comedy: Slowly Becoming Less of a Boy’s Club,’ and Nightly Show writer Robin Thede called for action in her essay ‘On Making the TV Writers’ Rooms More Diverse.’ When SNL’s cast featured no black women in 2013, people noticed. When The Late Show hired only two women on their writing staff in 2015, people noticed.”

 

There is a reason people say it’s a good time for women in comedy, and there is a reason they are right. As Yael Kohen writes, tracking the rise of women in comedy since the 1970s: “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, and there is no going back.”

BOOM. Kohen continues:

“This has been driven by a couple things: The first is the rise of identity politics, which has reinvigorated feminism and created a demand for points of view beyond those of white men. Arguably more important, however, is that media has caught up. Mass culture is in decline, and niche audiences are the goal. Social media has democratized the entertainment world by letting audiences directly express their approval with likes. And YouTube and podcasts have made it possible to create and disseminate work without a middleman. Women have been thriving in these alternative channels for years, and now that the alternative is the norm, female comedians were especially prepared to take advantage of a new climate.”

Specifics!

“Lena Dunham got her start posting comedy sketches on YouTube and creating at least two web series. Tig Notaro’s legendary impromptu set about her breast cancer diagnosis, starting with tweets from comedians in attendance, went viral instantly and then was able to be released directly to fans through Louis C.K.’s website. They, as well as other established (like Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee, Chelsea Handler, and Mindy Kaling) and emerging female comedians (like Issa Rae, Cameron Esposito, Jo Firestone, and Aparna Nancherla), are the voices of their generation. Female comedians have always been ahead of their time; now, at last, their time is catching up to them.”

So yes. It’s more like “it’s a great time for women in comedy…to replicate and take the hell over.”

Here are the reasons why.

Comedy is power.

When you tell jokes, you are in charge. You are on the mic. You might be outnumbered, but your voice is the loudest in the room. The spotlight is on you. You’re writing the story. You’re telling it your way—to a captive audience, maybe a giant one. That’s power. More women should have that. More women—and people—of all colors and shapes and lifestyle choices should have that. (That’s democracy.)

 

More women in comedy would mean that the default setting for FUNNY—and all the power and perks that comes 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. (Totally still happens.) (Some bookers still think a bunch of straight white dudes + one straight white woman = “diverse.”) (If she’s not white or straight, SUPER “diverse.”) To introduce you, the emcee says: “And now we’ve got a laaady coming to the stage!”

 

And then—even without the laaady intro—you as the only woman, 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. Women have to live up to much higher expectations, and work twice as hard to do it. Backwards, and, if you’re me, in glitter platforms. While getting PAID LESS. (More on that below.)

 

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 sometimes even funny, but—like ditch digger and yogapreneur and Ghostbuster—it’s a job. (Okay, not “yogapreneur.”) Doing comedy is work. It’s how you get paid. Sometimes in nickels and Sprite, but still.

 

So if you get treated differently from men when you do your job, that’s uncool, at best. Illegal, at worst. (Thanks in part to Cristela Alonzo, you may 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, for our national soul, 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.

 

That’s basically what they’re saying in other overlapping areas of entertainment:

 

    • An analysis of the 25 top-grossing movies each year from 2006 to 2015 showed that “on balance, top-grossing movies about women earned $45.5 million more than movies about men,” Mic. reported. “97 of the 133 movies in this selection are about men. Only 36 are about women—the people who are, as it is now proven, the bigger box office draw. That’s not just poor representation, it’s also bad business.”

 

  • 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.”

 

  • At the first annual Women in Entertainment Summit, Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i of CBS Diversity said, “Diversity is not ‘the right thing to do,’ it makes business sense. It makes dollars.”

More women in comedy makes everyone funnier.

Comedy, like almost anything else, is better with more voices. (I guess except mime.)

 

And comedy especially benefits from more minority 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.” (Same can be said of anyone whose identity or point of view is outside the mainstream.)

 

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 is important.

Tons of people “get their news” from late-night comedy news shows. That’s a chestnut at this point, but it’s true because it’s true.  Comedians are today’s pundits—or “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 entitled “The Triumph of Soap-Box Comedy,” writer Megan Garber observes that Schumer’s comedy, along with that of Jon Stewart, Key & Peele, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, is, “very broadly, distinguished by the fact that it isn’t content simply to elicit laughter. It’s comedy that has an ethic and a vision, and that even more importantly 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 its movements.”

 

The impact can be undeniable. However you voted, it’s hard to deny that Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer impression was strong enough to rattle the foundations of the (new) establishment.

 

In that context, it’s even more important that we have have multiple points of view. That’s what John Fugelsang, a pundit himself, told the BBC: “If someone can make you laugh over what a mess everything is, that person has not just earned your admiration, but has also earned your trust.”


So wouldn’t it be great if we got more people to trust more people? 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. Samantha 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 writers: “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.

Here’s the thing. 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.

 

We can start even earlier. Look what Daily Show head writer Daniel Radosh said (about GOLD!): “More women in comedy starts with more girls in comedy.”

 

So let’s start by telling girls that it’s good to be funny. That they’re already funnier than they think. Let’s tell them that being funny means being exactly who they are already, just with a few more punchlines. Let’s show girls that comedy is not the thing dudes do that girls laugh at. Let’s show girls that comedy is theirs. That whether they want to be standup funny, or YouTube funny, or improv funny, or disarm a bully funny, or Snapchat funny, or just funnier stump speech for class president funny, comedy is power, and that power is theirs.

Stay GOLDen

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