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Today in Women in Comedy

Ann Friedman on when fat women tell jokes.

AVClub talks about what it's like to be a woman in comedy.

What's it like being a woman in comedy today? To start, it's being asked that question in every interview, and occasionally interpersonally, like at a party or something. "What's it like being a woman in comedy and do you know where the bathroom is at this apartment?" someone might say. It's not necessarily a bad question. I'd rather be asked about it than hear it be Jerry Seinfelded under the predominantly male rug. To any straight white male comic who addresses diversity in comedy with a big, "Who cares?" I have two answers.

1. Who cares? I do. Diversity matters to me because I don't hear my experience echoed by the many straight white male comics I love interpersonally and have lasting, close relationships with and whose acts I love. They speak to me. But they do not speak for me. And I, arrogantly, would like to speak. The arrogance built into a career based solely on speaking one's beliefs and feelings is perfect and astounding. The only thing more arrogant would be insisting that no one believes or feels anything different than you do.

2. Who cares? You should. Straight white male comics should care about diversity and they should love it. By the numbers, there are still more comics that can be described as straight, white, and male than any other way. Comics who fall outside that description, like me, help to break up those numbers. Plainly said: Comics like me help keep the straight white male viewpoint fresh.

To be a woman in comedy is to be pitted against the only other female comic in the city you came up in for every booking in town and to never share a bill with her. It's to walk out onstage after this intro: "We're really glad this next comic isn't raped and dead in an alley." (That is an actual intro I have gotten.) It's to try and describe your body or sex life without being able to use some of comedy's most beautiful and omnipresent words: dick, boner, jerk-off. To be a woman in comedy is to look a little bit off standing in front of a brick wall telling jokes, only because we have seen and continue to see statistically more men standing in front of brick walls telling jokes.


There is a Chicago Women's Funny Festival in a few weeks - here's an interview.

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