A few weeks ago, our fellow ladyblog Jezebel.com wrote a post about “The Daily Show,” in which female employees past and present say women correspondents and joke writers aren’t valued as much as men. One past female employee straight-up called it a “boys’ club”; another said the show doesn’t want the jokes and skits to be “too female,” presumably because they might alienate male viewers. When Jezebel penned “The Daily Show’s Woman Problem,” actress/comedian/ex-Playboy model Olivia Munn had just joined the heavily male show and she was the first woman to do so — after Samantha Bee and Kristen Schaal — in several years. Lots of peeps were complaining that “The Daily Show” hires so many new male correspondents, but the most recent female one they hire had Playboy on her resume. All that, when the show is supposed to be so progressive and liberal! It all came to a head last week, when Jon Stewart yelped on air, “Jezebel.com thinks I’m a sexist pr**k!”
Now the women of “The Daily Show” have responded on Comedy Central’s website and they want you to know: they love their job, Jon Stewart is not sexist, and everything is rainbows and bunnies. Portions of their letter, after the jump …To read the full letter signed by over two dozen women, click here. Here are some of the highlights:
Recently, certain media outlets have attempted to tell us what it’s like to be a woman at ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.’ We must admit it is entertaining to be the subjects of such a vivid and dramatic narrative. However, while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office….
…’The Daily Show’ isn’t a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens. On the contrary: just like the men here, we’re indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show’s creative content and the fact is, it wouldn’t be the show that you love without us….
…If you think the only women who help create this show are a couple of female writers and correspondents, you’re dismissing the vast majority of us. Actually, we make up 40% of the staff, and we’re not all shoved into the party-planning department (although we do run that, and we throw some kick-ass parties). We are co-executive producers, supervising producers, senior producers, segment producers, coordinating field producers, associate producers, editors, writers, correspondents, talent coordinators, production coordinators, researchers, makeup artists, the entire accounting and audience departments, production assistants, crew members, and much more. We were each hired because of our creative ability, our intelligence, and above all, our ability to work our asses off to make a great show….
….But what’s [Jon Stewart] really like? Well, for a sexist pr**k, he can be quite charming. He’s also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth and–a lot of people don’t know this–surprisingly funny (for a guy brimming with “joyless rage”). How else to describe him? What’s the word that means the opposite of sexist? That one….
…And so, while it may cause a big stir to seize on the bitter rantings of ex-employees and ignore what current staff say about working at The Daily Show, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to us, it’s not fair to Jon, it’s not fair to our wonderful male colleagues, and it’s especially not fair to the young women who want to have a career in comedy but are scared they may get swallowed up in what people label as a “boy’s club.”
The truth is, when it comes down to it, ‘The Daily Show’ isn’t a boy’s club or a girl’s club, it’s a family – a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we’re not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We’re thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck’s latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour’s notice, which chocolate looks most like an oil spill, and how to get a gospel choir to sing the immortal words, “Go f@#k yourself!”
So, does that settle everything? No, not really.
Ex-employees main complaint about “The Daily Show” was that funny women were seen as “needy, crazy, insecure” (to quote from an ex-employee), while funny men were just seen as “funny.” Female writers and correspondents of years past were complaining about that aspect being a boys’ club environment. The list of happy female “Daily Show” employees has producers, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, etc., on it. Important roles, to be sure. But the show still only has five women in writing or correspondent roles.
Show some respect to the disgruntled former employees, who perhaps worked at the show before everything turned rainbows and bunnies. Having once been a disgruntled employee myself, I know that, of course, the current employees think everything is fine. That’s why they still work there. Duh. You have to factor in the reality that not everyone has the same experiences and therefore a happy graphics producer or makeup artist may know about, or fully understand, sexist experiences had by women in other roles.
I’m happy they’re so happy, though: Last month when I interviewed a heavily pregnant Samantha Bee, the show’s “most senior” correspondent, she had only glowing things to say about her place of work. She will pop out her third child later this summer, Bee told me, and she and her husband, correspondent Jason Jones, feel the show is a really family-friendly environment that has been great to them as parents.
If the women of “The Daily Show” — especially Bee, who has been there for seven years and knows a thing or two about a thing or two — say their work atmosphere values them and their contributions right this very moment, then good for them. They’re very lucky in that regard. I hope the staff as a whole — including non-sexist pr**k Jon Stewart — take the criticisms of “The Daily Show” in the past and apply them to the future so things stay that way. [Comedy Central Insider]