Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Funny AND A Lady

I feel like every time I hop on the Internet, I’m inundated with yet another quote by some blow hard with a penis saying he doesn’t think women are funny.  A couple months ago, it was Eddie Brill, this week it was Adam Corolla, and just a few years ago it was Christopher Hitchens.  I really can’t believe that this issue is being rehashed again.  I mean, honestly, I’m so sick of hearing that some asshat doesn’t think my peers and I are funny solely because we possess the enviable ability of having multiple orgasms. 

The world of comedy, specifically of the stand-up variety, is one that’s designed for women not to succeed.  Starting from the very beginning, when you’re honing your skills at an open mic, you’re usually one of the few women in a room full of men.  Just in case any of you non-comedians have the idea that this sounds like a wonderful way to combine your dating life with your career aspirations, let me disabuse you of that notion right now.  Unless the men you like to date happen to be unemployed, socially retarded individuals with a penchant for talking incessantly about their masturbation habits, these are not the kind of guys one adds to her Saturday night dating rotation.  If you’re lucky, the worst thing that will happen to you at an open mic is that the host will keep you there for over three hours and put you up second to last simply so he can stare at your tits.  If you’re unlucky, as most women who enter the comedy scene happen to be, you’ll probably get molested in the green room before you go on last to an audience of one bored bartender and a busboy who doesn’t speak English.  A lot of women, tired of being treated as a piece of meat, or too sensitive to listen to stories about jerking off and ass rape night after night, never make it past the open mics.  They give up and go back to “acting” or move back home to Iowa and entertain the locals with tales of their time as a stand-up comedienne.

If you do have the ovaries to stick it out, once you graduate from being an open micer, then you have to hustle to get actual booked gigs.  I’ll give you three guesses what sex most of the bookers are, and the first two don’t count.  That’s right, men.  And not surprisingly, they often don’t want to book female comics.  I’ve had bookers tell me that they don’t like women and won’t book them.  Or they say that the audience at their club doesn’t like women.  The thing that really chaps my hide is when the headliner is a well-known female comic and she refuses to have any other women on the line-up.  Way to have a sister’s back!  (Yes, this happens.  Often.)  There have been many days when I actually considered changing my first name to something unisex just to get a booker to click the link to my tape. 

If you do get booked, and you start getting work, then you’re confronted with the audiences’ prejudices.  Comedy is a really, really aggressive art form.  If you aren’t making the audience cry, you aren’t doing your job.  But aggressivity isn’t a trait that society at large is comfortable seeing in women.  When it comes down to it, we’re still genetically a hunter-gatherer society.  Men are expected to hunt, and women are expected to gather berries and not complain that their lazy-ass husband was too busy watching Sports Center to kill a buffalo.  So when a female comic is truly doing her job, and repeatedly hitting the audience with joke after joke after joke, then she gets accused of not being feminine.  Of course, if you bomb, then the booker uses that as proof that all female comedians are terrible, and says that he’ll never book another woman again.  It’s amazing how many male comedians I’ve seen eat shit, and yet no one ever uses their sets as proof that all male comedians suck.  Fascinating double standard, that one. 

The bottom line is that the deck is stacked against us from the outset.  But despite the misogyny, and the fewer bookings, and the prejudice against women, the cream always rises to the top.  Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Ellen DeGeneres, Kathy Griffin, Whitney Cummings; these are funny people, not just funny women.  The notion that women are not inherently funny is B.S.  In fact, I’d like to see some of these male comedians do what we do: work twice as hard for half the reward and then, if you do succeed, get called a bitch and accused of sleeping with someone to get where you are.  I’m guessing that if the roles were reversed, they’d be too pussy to handle it.  So the next time some lousy guy accuses me of not being funny, I’m just going to quote Roseanne and say,

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