Attitudes and resentments between men and women in the comedy community

A guest post from Jessie Geller:

Often times, when someone finds out I’m a comedian; they’ll ask me what kinds of “stuff” I talk about in my act. There are a whole lot of questions that put a comedian on the defensive, but this one, where I’m asked to reduce what I do into some sort of theme or category is my least favorite. Once in awhile, I wish I could sum up my comedy as “shrewd observations on the ironies of religion, politics, or a general commentary on everything that’s right and wrong about the world we live in.” But that’s not the truth. My comedy is rarely, if ever, NOT about me and deals largely with dating and relationships—a single woman who in many ways refuses to grow up, makes a lot of the same mistakes, and tries to somehow make sense of it. I’m ok with it for now, because while it’s not always entertaining, well written or well executed, it’s always me. I don’t want to talk about things that don’t interest me and luckily, I always interest me. However, when this question is posed to me, particularly by a man, I hesitate to reveal that I talk about relationships and dating because I feel like their response would be something along the lines of, “of course you do, you’re a woman.” Not to say I care greatly about a stranger’s opinion of me, but it can be frustrating to constantly defend the two biggest misconceptions about female comedians--which I believe to be that all we talk about are relationships, and of course, that we’re just not funny.

I don’t want to spend too much time trying to dispute the notion that female comedians are generally not as funny as male comedians because it seems as useless as trying to defend any other kind of stereotype. Some women are funny, some aren’t, and it really is that simple. Perhaps there’s a male trait of being bolder, more direct, and less meandering than women, and these attributes can serve one well in comedy. But these can be remedied as you get more comfortable being on stage, become a more proficient editor, recognize your limits with time, audience attention span…etc, etc. Male or female, if you are talented, people will recognize that and all the preconceptions become irrelevant. If the audience is laughing and entertained and to some extent you’ve done what you set out to do, then you’ve succeeded. Bombing does not discriminate based on breasts or the presence or absence of a penis.

That being said, attitudes and resentments between men and women within the comedy community is another story. I’m speaking in generalities here, and understand that the word “some” can be placed before each statement--but just to name a few:

* Female comics feel outnumbered and mistreated at open mics, which can result in not attending them as often.
* Female comics tend to think there is a certain “boys club” that exists and some women feel largely alienated from it.
* Male comics think women can simply get onstage looking cute and talk about sex, and they themselves don’t have that kind of cheap strategy at their hands the way we do.
* Male comics think women don’t work as hard and are rewarded more often for being a woman than by virtue of their talent.

To some degree, I believe every one of the above statements. Not necessarily because there’s so much bias and tension between men and women in comedy, but because I believe there’s bias and tension between men and women in life. To address each briefly and individually…

* Any circumstance where men outnumber women runs the risk of making a woman feel reduced and objectified, It’s fun at a bar, but not so much when you’re trying to be taken seriously.
* Cliques in comedy exist, but men can feel excluded from them as well. Like anything else in life, there will be moments of feeling included and moments of feeling excluded and I think we all left the worst of it behind in middle school
* Yes, some women get onstage and talk about sex in gratuitous and unimaginative ways. I know this for a fact because I’ve done it and certainly still do it when I haven’t done the work and know firsthand it doesn’t hold up for very long. However, I’ve heard both male and female comics tell some very unfunny sex jokes and maybe in the short term a women can get away with it more, but it’s not sustainable, particularly when it’s not authentic.
* For the most part, myself included, female comics don’t get on stage and practice with the intensity and tenacity of some of the male comedians I know. For reasons mentioned earlier, I think women may find them counterproductive because it can feel like an unsupportive environment. In the end, it’s really what an individual feels like they need and is willing to do to improve. I know amazingly talented comics that get up twice a week and amazingly talented comics that get up 15 times a week. I believe there’s some level of natural talent but also think if you’re not working hard enough your work will reflect that. I know I don’t get up as much as I should, and in a moment of truth also know there isn’t any man, boys club, subway construction, happy hour or lack of preparation I can blame it on. If I want this, I will do the work, no getting around it.

So if the end is the point where I’m supposed to make a point, I guess I’ll finish saying this--it doesn’t really fucking matter and I think we all know this. By and large, if you are a comedian, male or female, it’s likely you haven’t had it easy. I think besides the obvious rewards--success, fame, a writing job, a TV credit…we’re all trying to work through something. And in doing so, will hopefully learn a little about humanity, both the world’s and our own. All of us are fighting obstacles and limitations, with comedy and within ourselves. Instead of blaming each other we really should come together and take the more noble approach, which is of course, blaming the audience.

Update: "Why my fellow females don’t do stand-up" is Kate Hendricks view on the same topic.

The act of ‘stand-up ‘ is – your material aside – an aggressive art form. It’s aggressive because you have to have control of a room, and you have to be comfortable knowing that you’re in control of that room. It is my personal belief that this type of ‘desire to command attention’ is not something that is inherent in women. It is a learned trait: something you gain (or don’t) based on life experiences.

Kate's whole piece is good and worth a read.

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30 Comment(s)

Blogger Kate Hendricks said...

Beautifully written Jess.

6/2/10, 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Sean O'Connor said...

After reading this first comment, I'm starting to think this site is turning into a Girl's club.

6/2/10, 1:34 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Great post, for a girl.

6/2/10, 2:02 PM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

Jessie said:

I know I don’t get up as much as I should... If I want this, I will do the work, no getting around it.

Great point.

...making a woman feel reduced and objectified, It’s fun at a bar, but not so much when you’re trying to be taken seriously.

I don't think it's fun at a bar.

However, I’ve heard both male and female comics tell some very unfunny sex jokes and maybe in the short term a women can get away with it more

I haven't seen women get away with being unfunny more than a guy. If anything it perpetuates the stigma.

...take the more noble approach, which is of course, blaming the audience.


Kate Hendricks said:

It is my personal belief that this type of ‘desire to command attention’ is not something that is inherent in women. It is a learned trait

I have always naturally wanted to command attention, so it can be inherent in a woman. I don't think it is necessarily natural for a man to want to command attention. A lot of the male stand-ups I know are writers first and working on being better performers, working on not letting the fact that they have everyone's attention make them too uncomfortable / nervous to speak.

I like Kate's point about it being an isolating artform. That's the main problem I have with a career on the road--worrying about feeling lonely. But guys can worry about that too. I think that is separate from the concern of planning and raising a family, but those are factors for many (not all, but many) women. And men who have a uterus.

6/2/10, 2:53 PM  
Blogger myq said...

Great posts and tits, girls.

A side point--the question of defining your own act to someone else, answering what you talk or joke about, that's a trap for everyone. I just read a Tennessee Williams quote that said "Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth." (Which is doable, but only if you pull some of them out. Unpleasant.)

Also, I agree with Abbi regarding the inherent/non-inherent desire to be commanding not necessarily coinciding with a natural male/female split. Certainly, society aims to shape people along those lines, and perhaps that came in handy when the male hunter had to command a caveful of sabre-toothed tigers, while the gatherer female merely had to pick plants at her leisure, no aggressiveness necessary, but today we might be past that. (I like vegetables.)

All that said, women are good at blogging.

Sincerely, great points everyone.

And tits.

6/2/10, 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey hey-- Selena here--

Great post, Jessie. I’m glad this discussion is happening.

As far as your hesitation to categorize your type of comedy—I completely agree. Especially when it’s a guy who is asking you to tell him what “type” of stuff you do. I hate to be like, “I guess it’s mostly about relationships, my ineptitude with men” because that seems to fit right into the expectation that ALL female comedians only talk about men and periods and how much they hate giving head, blah blah blah.

Most every comedian out there talks about experiences that he/she knows something about or has experienced. In short, every comedian talks about his/her unique life experience. Oftentimes, white men talk about white men experiences; women talk about women experiences; gays talk about gay experiences, etc. The problem is that in our society, the white, male experience is considered the “normal” experience, so if you divert from that dialogue, you are seen as out-there or too specialized and you lack mass appeal.

I wholeheartedly agree that the environment at mics can be very intimidating and feel completely misogynistic. A few years back, I went to the (now dead) mic at the Comedy Village. Man I hope that place burned down. Anyhoo, I sat through joke after joke with punchlines about rape or assault or other such shock-value-based drivel that you see at low-level open mics. I was the only woman at that mic and I went up around second-to-last, after sitting through all this crap. I did my set--whatever. The whole thing was useless. I sat back down, and another comedian got on stage and, in his set, with the mic in hand, suggested that the guys at the mic lock the door and they all have their way with me. It’s THAT type of bullshit that makes me hate open mics. Can’t I just be here, trying to develop like everybody else? Do you have to attempt to intimidate me or bizarrely faux flirt with me?

I don’t think there’s anything that innately makes guys want to be the center of attention and makes women not want that. It’s all socialization. Young boys are socialized from a young age that “boys will be boys” and they are force-fed the expectation that they will be rowdy and a bit out of control. That is what’s defined as “normal” boy behavior. As they grow up, they are rewarded for being decisive, opinionated, outspoken. Young girls receive the complete opposite message from society. We are socialized to be demure and polite. No matter how your parents may have raised you, SOCIETY tells young girls that to be normal, they must like pink and purple and simmer down and play hard-to-get, blah blah blah. The very nature of standup comedy runs completely counter to the societal messages that have been thrust upon young girls for their entire lives. So it’s simply hard to unlearn however-many years of that brainwashing and to go in the opposite direction and suddenly be loud and commanding and outspoken.

Great discussion!


6/2/10, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Kate Hendricks said...

I take the points about socialization. Where was this group think when I was writing my blog entry?!?!

I will say this, though. I believe there is a difference between being comfortable COMMANDING attention, and LIKING to be the CENTER of attention. Are they both socialization things? Maybe. But to command attention is to say - I am comfortable with myself, and what I have going on up here that I am in charge. When you do stand-up, you're in charge. You don't have to be rude about it, but I believe you should have techniques that allow you to maintain control of a room. That includes being OK going back at a heckler. Not losing your sh*t if you don't get a laugh (or any). And so on.

Whereas (IMO), being the center of attention can include being wild and crazy just for kicks without any real calm or collected control that commands attention or would ever translate into solid stand-up. (Not saying this is you Abbie, just saying people who like being the center of attention don't necessarily make good stand-ups).

6/2/10, 4:55 PM  
Blogger myq said...

I might add that not all standup is about overt command.

Steven Wright isn't aggressive and I don't know how often he has to handle hecklers.

So I guess what I'm saying is, Steven Wright is a hilarious woman.

6/2/10, 5:04 PM  
Blogger soce said...

I think that it's always difficult when you are new to a particular scene, and when you are something different (such as being a lady), it makes it harder to just blend in.

I obviously don't know what it's like to be a woman, but I have sat through lots of "edgy" homophobic jokes, and then I will go up and try to set things right by talking about being gay and hopefully changing some minds.

There are definitely people who talk about the things that you'd expect their group to discuss, but I don't think that's such a terrible thing, as long as they are doing it in a creative and intriguing manner. When anyone's starting out, you work with what you know; and then as you get more stage time, you start taking risks and going all sorts of new and exciting places, and that's when you really start branching out, regardless of who you are.

6/2/10, 6:17 PM  
Blogger Badinia said...

Very nice article, and a lot of truth in it. I often say, the nice thing about being a girl comic is that you stand out, and the bad thing is that you stand out. I say this to myself, or into my drink, because who would listen to a girl talking?

6/2/10, 8:06 PM  
Blogger Marian said...

I love this post and discussion! Most of the men I've met in comedy are cool and supportive, though I've had to follow my share of dick/rape/woman-hating material, which isn't fun. And I've wondered about how few women seem to get booked on shows (there seems to be a token girl spot, despite a lot of great, varied talent).

Since we're sharing war stories (we are, right?), here's one from me. I was at a mic last year, when I was very much a beginner - still pretty nervous and unsure of myself. Most of the comics there were guys, and they all seemed to know each other. I had a shitty set -- well, no one was even listening, so it hardly mattered, but I did that thing of undermining my set by being tentative and needy up there, instead of owning it. So bombing was pretty much guaranteed.

When I was done, the MC (a guy) said, into the mic, "Was that your first time onstage?" I said no, and he said "I should've known better than to ask a female comic if it's her first time onstage. That's like asking a fat chick if she's pregnant."

Everyone laughed.


I haven't been back to that mic since, though I took something valuable away from the experience -- a lesson that is not necessarily gender-specific: If you're going onstage, you have to own it. You can't *ask* if you're funny. You can't be needy up there. Or people (fellow comics or regular audience folk) will sense your weakness and, in some cases, skewer you for it.

It's easier said than done, especially when the room is hostile, but I haven't given up trying. Yet.

6/3/10, 9:32 AM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

The things Selena and Marian went through aren't just "war stories"; they shouldn't have to happen. Both times they're singled out not for being unfunny but for being a woman.

There's nothing wrong with any of us saying, "I write about what's going on in my life and around me," but for a while I wanted to respond to the question, What do you joke about? with, "Carrots." Carrots? I don't get it. "The vegetable. You know, how they're orange. All crunchy and stuff. You can cook with them." That's all you talk about? "Yeah. Well, just carrots," Okay. Hey, I'll need those presentations printed by 3:30PM.

I sense there's a real divide among women comics about whether they like to be on shows that showcase women only. Some don't like to be singled out by their gender and liken it to segregation. I think it's great--extra stage time. Thoughts? A problem with most of them is they pitch sex first. I am 100% against comedy shows starring women that sell sex/beauty over the comedy. Restaurants don't advertise pretty lasagna. How does it taste? "Uh, it's VERY good looking..."

Myq, great Williams quote, but your tits are underwhelming!

6/3/10, 1:35 PM  
Blogger myq said...

Hey, don't objectify me. SUBJECTIFY me.

Just like a woman to talk about carrots.
You should team up with a man who talks about sticks.

PS Don't restaurants actually show pictures of their food and try to present them as pretty? Is that wrong? What's wrong with wanting your lasagna to be pretty AND delicious? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd rather have lasagna be ugly and delicious than pretty and disgusting, if that's what we're talking about. Am I making my point deliciously?

PPS What's with all this lasagna talk? Weren't you supposed to only be talking about carrots? Is it a carrot lasagna? Something about women and the kitchen! (Like, stay out of it, it's mine.)

PPPS Actual point of curiosity--what do other women think about all-female shows? Do you like being a part of them? Like that they exist? Would you rather be on one of them or on an integrated show, on any given night? (All other things being as equal as possible, let's say, audience-wise, etc.)

6/3/10, 1:51 PM  
Blogger Badinia said...


(hi, well-known comedy vegan! I am a less-known comedy vegan.)

Women's comedy nights: depending on the organizer, they can be ego-boosting sisterhood girl's nights, or they can be the lady ghetto where the booker puts all the chicks up so he doesn't have to use them again until next year.
I had a booker turn me down to feature for a fantastic lady I work with a lot because he "wanted to keep it more diverse", as if every other show was not two white dudes. I told him BLESS YOU for giving white male comics a leg up in this business. You're! So! Brave!

Regards, Virginia

6/3/10, 2:12 PM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

You can substitute lasagna for nail clippers. If the main function isn't looks, why sell the looks? This is rhetorical, because we all know why bookers choose to promote women based on looks first. But it doesn't have to be that way, nor should it be.

If all-female shows were the ONLY place a woman could play it would be cause for resentment. But if they exist in addition to other opportunities, I am for them. Esp if they are run by someone sensitive to the negative preconceived notions about women who perform comedy.

I don't know if you carrot happens to be important to me. If a Canadian's knocking, in-vitamin A! Okay time for me to Rabbit up.

6/3/10, 2:39 PM  
Blogger Kate Hendricks said...

All-girl shows? Another night to be on stage.

Marketed as "sexy gorgeous female line-up?" The booker's inability to be creative enough to fill seats another way. Unfair? If the seats are filled, great. Up to (me/us) to bring the hilarity (in addition to cleaveage revealing clothes and thigh high mini skirts, naturally).

6/3/10, 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Adrienne Iapalucci

I feel bad about being the only woman on a show because somewhere I know there is a black guy who needs that spot just as bad and I filled the quota for the wild card spot.

6/3/10, 6:01 PM  
Blogger myq said...

Don't feel that way, Adrienne.
Black men got to vote before women did; it's only fair that you get spots now.

6/3/10, 6:19 PM  
Blogger Kath said...

Great post, Jessie. And props to Matt Ruby for including it. Excellent insights, all.

My favorite lady-specific horror story is when I got up at a Comedy Corner mic wearing jeans and a crewneck tshirt like I always do (a comedy friend of mine tells me I dress like a lesbian, whatever that means) and some drunk male comic in the back yelled "TAKE IT OFF!" before I even said anything. I dealt with it and had a productive set but I still can't believe it happened.

Another piece of this puzzle worth mentioning while we're here is that women are somewhat limited in terms of their material. I've been told that my sex-related jokes are akin to a male comic's dick jokes and thus, even if funny, aren't particularly interesting. If women get too "sexy" or "sexual" on stage, then we run the risk of alienating our female audience or inviting unwanted attention from male audience members.

We're also not supposed to talk about our periods but I've seen any number of male comics (Matt Ruby included)talk about lady periods quite successfully, to some nice laughs.

I talk about relationships and sex but I find, at least at this early stage of my game, that I'm most successful when I talk about matters not specific to the female experience.

And all-lady shows are great but it is, I hate to say it, more validating to be chosen as the token girl on all-boy show. (That said, I've never been the token girl but I hope to be some day. Maybe by the time that happens, folks will be willing to book two women - GASP - on a show.)

6/4/10, 9:38 AM  
Blogger WWW said...

Great post, Jessie. And yes, props to Matt.

As for being "limited" in material, I dont know if I agree with that. I think there is material we are expected to do, and maybe material that audiences would even like us to do, but stand up as an art form, we are never truly "limited". That being said, I've been told multiple times that my material is "ballsy", and that I need to pad it with some dating, and other things that people will be more OK with hearing from my mouth. Frankly, I don't think I'm all that ballsy, but even the notion that edgy material is paired with "balls" suggests that being 'edgy', is a masculine trait, as Kate touched on – Jessica Kirson, a female comic I respect very much, told me, if you look at all the successful female comics – not all, but most – they have a masculine energy about them.

Also, I’ve found talking about sex to be a very slippery slope, and as such, I pretty much will not do it anymore unless it is in a self-demeaning way. When I would talk about it, there were instances of being heckled in gross and sexual ways, usually by equally as gross and un-sexual men, to the point where the 8+ person table of boozing patrons was asked to leave the club. When I got back to the other comics, after pushing through what was a horrific experience, someone actually told me I “asked for it” by opening the door of talking about myself only in the context of being a sexual, dating, person.

On the “all womens” – stage time is stage time but I would rather be a token women (or hopefully two!). Even if my intro will sound something like, "This lovely lady has boobs, but still pretend to laugh"...


6/4/10, 11:24 AM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

Guys don't really have a show in NYC that showcases them as "the guy so good he's the chosen token male performer". So should they feel just as ambivalent about performing on dude-saturated lineups? They don't, ladies, I assure you.

What if women REFUSED token spots and said, "I'm not doing your show unless you have one other girl on there"? Maybe you'd get a lot less stage time, or maybe you'd get a lot more respect. Maybe it takes someone who has draw to try something like that.

I hate this idea of a token woman. If bookers save that spot in order to increase diversity (a positive), it's better than doing it in order to reduce suckiness (a negative).

Where are the male open mic'ers / bookers of theme shows chiming in on what exactly they resent about women in comedy?

6/4/10, 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adrienne Iapalucci

Yes, Mqy, technically that is true. But Whites kept Blacks from registering to vote by making them take literacy tests they couldnt pass and placing taxes they couldnt pay.

With that said, as bad as I feel taking spots from Black guys I still take them because stagetime is hard to come by. All is fair in love, war and comedy.

On a serious note, there are times, I feel excluded from the white male clique, but I find that when on a one on one basis it is easier to become friends with them individually then as a whole. Similarly there are times that I feel excluded by women in comedy too. So I think it really depends. Sometimes I dont approach people so maybe I am not being as sociable as I can be.

There is good and bad aspects to women comedy shows. I remember being at a comedy club and it was me and two other women comics and the owner said to the three of us, "I dont think women are funny" and none of us said anything. I was trying to get spots so I didnt comment but in retrospect I wish I would have told him how I felt and walked out but I was naive at the time and thought that any opportunity was an opportunity.

I think as an artist you should have free range to talk about whatever you want. Whether it be sex, personal or topical. At the end of the day you have to respect what you are doing and feel good about it. I think at regular shows and privately produced shows there seems to be a lot more respect for women than at open mics. Although there are exceptions.

Comedy like any venue in the entertainment business is highly dominated by men. Luckily not every man feels that he is doing you a favor by booking you on their show. Many gay rooms love women and there will be 4 women on a show to maybe every man. There are some guys that dont find women funny but there are lots that do. There are also men who dont want to book women if know they are funnier than them.

In NY we are lucky to have so many venues that exist for comedy and there are always new places to produce new shows.

6/6/10, 1:15 AM  
Anonymous ECN said...

'What if women REFUSED token spots and said, "I'm not doing your show unless you have one other girl on there"?'

Um, then the comic would be trying to tamper with the show's booking policy, and the booker probably wouldn't book them anyway?

An anecdote: I booked a monthly show in LA for a while.

My "quotas" (as it were) were clique-based: I always booked one comic from Boston, one comic from Chicago, one comic from New York -- but rarely more than one comic per show who I associated with the same city, or who was closely linked with the same local show.

(It was a small show, which drew its audiences mostly from among local comics and comedy fans -- so that was my concern. If I had ended up expanding it, and trying to draw in people who DIDN'T regularly attend comedy shows, this might have been less of a relevant concern.)

But while it didn't influence my booking decisions, I do know that I booked seven comics a month, and generally, 2-3 of them were women. I know one show had 5 women on it, and another show had none. I don't know that any of the specific lineups featured exactly one woman, but it was certainly within the range.

Now, let's say you were a woman who I booked, who saw she was the only woman on the show, and started making demands of me. Now, in this case, I probably would've pointed at my previous lineups, and problem solved. But I probably would have also been at least a little insulted at being implicitly put on trial for misogyny.

All of which is not to say that there ISN'T misogyny in comedy. There's a lot of that stuff, and it's awful. But making accusations is another matter -- you really don't want to be in the situation where you're telling a booker that a lineup with one woman is OBVIOUSLY evidence of his bias against women, because sometimes it just happens that way.

(Now, if the booker is openly framing the spot as a "token woman" spot, or showing other evidence of his misogyny, that's different. It's entirely okay to object to that. Personally, I'd probably do it by refusing to acknowledge the booker, and/or by openly mocking him in conversations with other people. But if you think negotiating with him to book another comic is the way to go, well, that's one way to go.)

6/6/10, 11:09 PM  
Blogger soce said...

The world of comedy is a strange one in that most shows will only book the same person a few times each year at most, so you can't rely on any one show to give you that big break. Plus you wouldn't necessarily want to get booked on the same show over and over again, as you'd be reaching the same audience, for the most part.

When you are starting out, it's difficult to get on shows, regardless of who you are. Most people will not book people they're unfamiliar with, and they won't get familiar with you if they don't see you perform.

If people are saying "women aren't funny" or making anti-female jokes, then they are just being jerks. Any decent show should generally have at least one woman and more if it's a larger line-up, and there shouldn't be limitations. We've certainly had shows featuring 3 women and 1 man in the past, and I'm sure we'll do it many more times.

When one person gets booked, I wouldn't consider it "taking someone else's spot" because if that other person is talented enough, then they too will get booked eventually.

6/7/10, 11:56 AM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

@ ECN: If I had to put anyone on trial for misogyny it would start with myself, since on average I book one woman per show. But in my defense, if I were truly sticking with a token diversity policy, I would consider that we already filled our ethnic / female quota with my presence alone.

"Um, then the comic would be trying to tamper with the show's booking policy, and the booker probably wouldn't book them anyway?"

Well, yeah, boycotting shows would most likely result in not being on many shows. I don't think this is the best method to bring about change, but civil disobedience has worked for the masses before.

Other options to perform on shows with more funny women:

create a show whose booking policy requires more women on the lineup

become drinking buddies with women and learn about shows with less misogynistic practices

when you have appropriate draw, invite your favorite funny woman to open for you

lend your daughter Queen Latifah's new book, "Put on Your Crown"

6/8/10, 9:55 AM  
Blogger Dee-Rob said...

I'm a little late to the discussion, but a couple of points.

On doing all women shows, yes, for the stage time. But, even better is doing shows booked, hosted or run by women. Usually, as a bonus the shows I've done run by women have tended to have guys who weren't doing their best imitation of a frat boy/date rapist.

On commanding attention, I think women's socialization plays into it quit a bit. I went to a public speaking for business workshop, and it was interesting to see how the young women interacted so differently from the young men. No eye contact from the women, tentativeness, voices rising at the end of sentences. The guys just didn't have those issues. For me, because it wasn't my first time publicly speaking, the trainer really pushed me to look right at people and be kind of more confrontational with my posture -- Lean in to people, walk towards them, square my shoulders to be right on them. It was really foreign to the demureness Selena described that we are taught.

One strange thing that has happened to me in comedy, which I haven't seen mentioned, is that sometimes people project what they think I said onto me by virtue of being a chick. For example, I've never done any material about not being able to get laid or not having a boyfriend, but at one of my earliest open mics I got heckled by someone who later became a good friend. He shouted something like "I'd do you." In his telling the story now years later, he vividly recalls and retells that I was on stage talking about being dateless and sexless. I swear I wasn't, especially since around that time I had just jettisoned a very bad, poisonous man from my relationship life and was actively dating around.

I do relationship stuff -- but it's more about getting used to living with someone or meeting his family or our very different cultures. But, still and all, I've had conversations with other comics where they "heard" some other chick thing I didn't say- Something from the cookie cutter chick factory.

For the boycott, I wouldn't boycott shows or mess with the booker. But, would it be possible to get all the guys with unfunny rape jokes or highly implausible tales of banging hot chicks off the stage?

6/8/10, 2:27 PM  
Blogger soce said...

I will say that I prefer the alternative comedy scene to the club scene because I feel that for the most part, the alternacom jokes are much more tasteful and creative, and I rarely hear the terrible aforementioned misogynistic jokes. Also most alternative comedy shows don't involve comedians making fun of audience members.

You will still hear the bad jokes at open mics, since anyone can perform at those, so you just have to brace yourself for those and realize that if people are making tasteless jokes, they hopefully will not be as successful as those who are making tasteful jokes (although who really knows!).

I think a reason why people book so few women per show is that they get inundated with requests from guys, and it's a relative trickle of requests from women in comparison (personally I have over 10 times as many requests from men at this point), so I guess we need to get more women to start doing comedy so that they will become a larger proportion of all performers.

6/8/10, 3:47 PM  
Blogger myq said...

"I guess we need to get more women to start doing comedy so that they will become a larger proportion of all performers."

OR... we just get more men to STOP doing comedy.
(You know, the frat rape jokers. That would solve all the problems. Except for the fact that I've got a great new joke about raping a frat.)

6/8/10, 4:18 PM  
Blogger Abbi Crutchfield said...

I rape carrots with my mouth.

Theory three: women aren't asking for stage time as much. Or as is the case in my house where both a male and female comedian live, the woman doesn't comb Craigslist for spots, doesn't request to be booked on shows she assumes would reject her, and she tends to cancel due to sickness/bad weather/travel distance. I cancelled a fun gig last night due to stomach pain, and when Luke came back from his show he said Rob O'Reilly performed that same night with strep.

Part of maximizing stage time includes following through with your commitment. And risking rejection to get booked outside of your usual haunts.

6/8/10, 5:09 PM  
Blogger Chesley Calloway said...

To quote one female comic re there only having been a couple of other female comics booked on our show last night:

"Oh, I don't care that there weren't more women booked, I just care that I wasn't booked."

6/11/10, 12:34 PM