Before I started stand up my ex boyfriend told me that I would have a really hard time of it because there simply weren't any funny female comedians. This gentleman was of course the “Chandler” of his group, the center of attention and it broke my heart that someone with obviously such a good sense of humor couldn’t appreciate my own.
Since then I’ve met several men who need to dominate a conversation and feel threatened by women who can incite laughter more than them. My ex prided himself on being able to make women laugh but he would rarely laugh at anything they said, even if it was much more clever. Let me start by saying, he was a complete idiot, and of course there are funny female comedians.
In his Vanity Fair article, “Why Women aren’t Funny,” Christopher Hitchens theorizes that men are funnier than women because evolutionarily they need to be to get laid. And since men are easier than women, ladies never developed the mating call of a joke. This theory is ridiculous. Men who learned to be funny to get laid were probably the popular kid in high school. Yelling something offensive and doing an air-humping dance is not indicative of the art of writing. Comedians who learned to be funny not to get laid, but to as a coping mechanism to fight depression and escape from insecurities are the ones who write really creative unique material. Most comedians would rather be able to write like Maria Bamford than Dane Cook.
There are a greater number of men than women comedians in the industry. This might be because the nature of the industry makes you feel competitive and insecure about your abilities. These insecurities push some people to write harder and perform more but they push others to compare themselves to their peers. This comparison seems to be the end of comedians and I’ve seen women fall into that trap.
I’ve met many women who passive aggressively gossip about other women comedians. Once a female comic said I’d do well in this industry because of the way I looked. I was really offended that she would insinuate I was getting booked for any reason other than my comedy. Comparison is one of the worst motivators. There are not a limited number of spots for comedians to “make it.” Everyone should support each other and want everyone to do well, because every time a comedian bombs an audience loses its wings. (And by wings I mean possible desire to go to future shows.)
I get annoyed when people say “you’re so funny for a girl.” There are no men’s and women’s leagues in comedy. Funny is funny, regardless of gender. Tig Notaro touched on it in the Marc Maron WTF podcast. Marc asked her what she said when people ask her if it’s harder for women to do comedy and she replied she’d tell them “you just started the most boring conversation ever… if you are funny that is the driving force in getting people’s attention.” And anyone who has seen or listened to Tig Notaro will agree that many female comedians are hilarious.