Frisky Rant: What We Need To Stop Talking About When We Talk About Funny Women
Yesterday, as I was flipping through Feedly, trying to find a thing to write a thing about, I came across the following headline:
There’s nothing wrong with the article itself, and obviously I agree with the notion that thinking “chicks aren’t funny” is bullshit–but there’s a thing I want to address here. Why is it, whenever a woman becomes well known for being funny, we get the “disproving the theory that women aren’t funny” line?
This is not an idea anyone needs to disprove.
Suggesting that a funny woman disproves the idea that chicks aren’t funny is like saying “President Obama Disproves The Idea That All Politicians Are Actually Lizard People” or, like, “Woman Graduates From Harvard, Disproving The Idea That Women Cannot Read Words Good” or “New Fossil Disproves Creationism.”
Like those ideas, like chemtrails, like fluoride being used to contaminate our precious bodily fluids, this is an “idea” held almost exclusively by idiots. Many of whom, I suspect, have not met enough women in their lives to actually make that call. Ideas this stupid don’t need disproving. As a rule, I refuse to argue with people about stupid things. I’m not having a discussion about whether or not the Holocaust happened, and I’m not having a discussion about whether or not women are funny.
You know what actually disproves the “idea” that women aren’t funny? Women! In general! Just going about their daily lives and being fucking hilarious. Not to mention the fact that women have been professionally funny since the days of Jane Foole, court jester to motherfuckin’ Bloody Mary. Legend has it that if you say her name in a mirror three times, she will appear and whack you on the head with a rubber chicken.
Let us consider for a moment that — other than cranky men on the internet — the two most oft-cited sources of the whole “women aren’t funny” thing are Jerry Lewis and Christopher Hitchens.
Jerry Lewis! We, as Americans, regularly mock France for being so fond of Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis’s comedy — which I have seen, because Dean Martin is big with my people — is mostly crossed eyes, weird voices and falling down a lot. He also once made a movie where he played a clown leading Jewish children to the gas chambers during the Holocaust. True story!
Seriously. Without looking, name one hilarious thing Jerry Lewis ever said, other than yelling “HEY LADY!” in a really obnoxious voice. I just looked, and I am finding pretty much nothing.
Oh. Except for what he said about women in comedy: “A woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me, but sets me back a bit … I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.”
He’s no Wanda Sykes, that’s for sure.
For what it’s worth, I did not think Christopher Hitchens was all that hilarious either — except for that time when he thought we should invade Iraq, because what a joke that turned out to be.
I could easily name over 100 hilarious women in this post, right now. I wouldn’t even have to Google. To be entirely honest, I know way more women who are funny than men who are. In fact, the last comedy show I went to, the lone woman performing was 87 thousand times funnier than the brosephs up there whining about their wives asking them to do chores around the house or whatever.
However, I would not have an easy time finding many men who didn’t think women were funny that I actually thought were funny themselves. I think that list might pretty much begin and end with John Belushi, and I’m not even going to count that because he was on a lot of drugs at that time. Also, he correctly thought Gilda Radner was hilarious, so there’s that.
The problem with suggesting that “women aren’t funny” is an idea that requires disproving at all gives credence to the idea itself. If women like Amy Schumer are “disproving” that theory … then we think of funny women as being some kind of anomaly. Which is in no way the case here.
But the idea that funny women are somehow rare, mythical creatures makes women feel like there’s less of a chance for them to succeed at comedy and maybe less likely to pursue it as a career, it makes those who are trying scared of having a bad set because people are just waiting for them to fuck up, and it makes men who run showcases see nothing odd about having all-male lineups. And that sucks for everyone — especially the audiences.