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Archive for January 15th, 2009

I 3 Deluth too, Maria

I ❤ Duluth too, Maria

Lucierohan brings up a good idea here. And something that bugs me to no end.

I’m so tired of the whole women aren’t funny thing. They are. Sometimes they’re on television. But more than likely the person on your television screen is male. But hey, that happens beyond just comedy. But then people tell me that the women on television “aren’t funny”. But of course what of the men on television? I’ve got to be honest most of them bore me to death or just drive me insane. People say they’re tired of women talking about periods to get a laugh, and guess what, I’m tired of men talking about angry feminists or how irrational their wife is.

But now for a more positive spin! My current favorite funny ladies: Maria Bamford, Sarah Haskins, and Amy Sedaris!

I love the Maria Bamford Show. And Sarah Haskins’ Target Women is kind of spectacular. And of course there’s never a dull moment for Amy Sedaris, everything she does is hilarious. I still want to buy her new book.

Who are your favorite funny ladies?

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Sarah Silverman in iThe Aristocrats/i.

Sarah Silverman in Paul Provenza's awesome shock-doc The Aristocrats.

This started out as a post about how guilty I felt about listening to crude comedy, but it turned into something almost completely different.

The stand-up profession is horribly sexist, and this perpetuates the assumption that (I’m sure you’ve heard it often) “women aren’t funny.”  In fact, Christopher Hitchens, a writer I usually really like, wrote an article for Vanity Fair entitled “Why Aren’t Women Funny?” in which he suggested that the only notable women in stand-up are “jews” or “dykes” or “butch.”  Overlooking the obvious crudeness (I don’t know if “dyke” is a normalized term in England) this is actually pretty accurate, but I was shocked that this pretty insightful guy would overlook the real issue. That is, why does a woman have to be “butch” to get a laugh? I’d like to attribute this stigma entirely to an age gap (I think that men of our generation do recognize the female sense of humor more than the men of 60-year-old Christopher Hitchens’ generation) but I know that if I did, I would really be deluding myself. The fact is that, like in many professions, women in comedy are expected to assimilate to a “masculine” standard. At a law firm that means shoulder pads and a pants suit. Behind the mic at Caroline’s it means pinching your clit and shouting “suck my dick” at a heckler. Any woman who refuses to meet the standard and/or implies any kind of feminist leaning in her routine is labeled “whiney,” “bitchy,” or worst, a “hack.” Though this is most obvious in professional comedy, I think it also applies to our personal lives. In elementary school I prided myself on being “just one of the guys!” I played butts up at recess and scoffed whenever someone suggested that I should take pride in being female (I remember forcing a smile when someone gave me a “girls rule” picture frame for my birthday.) Whenever I went to eat lunch at the boys’ table, I could feel my female classmates staring me down, and it made me happy because I knew I was envied. Of course, the problem with being a lady in a boys club is that you’ll never really belong. After isolating yourself from your fellow women, you’ll find not that your female friends have been replaced by male friends, but instead that your female friends have been replaced by an all-male critics board that will only accept you as long as you play by their rules, which often means leaving feminism and self-respect at the door

We’re ingrained from a very young age with the idea that women have the looks and men have the personality, but what’s really surprising is how well it sticks. That is, how overtly the assumption is held when we get older. Compare it to another assumption like women being domestic. Intelligent, liberal men probably will not claim that women are too dumb to be anywhere but the kitchen, but I know that I’ve heard plenty of men take Christopher Hitchen’s side on the funny issue. Of course, why should we even care? Maybe this is just battle-of-the-sexes-you-should-do-the-dishes-no-you-should-do-the-dishes bullshit. It’s much more important that we’re respected and considered intelligent, hard-working people, right? Well, no. Because we don’t build relationships by being smart. Of course, intelligence is always a plus, but if there’s one thing Mr. Hitchens got right its that laughter is the real “surrender”—the white flag that signals the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. So I don’t thinking I’m exaggerating (well maybe I am…but only a little) when I say that as long as men only laugh a women’s jokes to get them into bed, solidarity between the sexes won’t be realized. Of course we can’t really help whether or not be laugh at a joke, so am I just wasting my words on this?

So what do you guys think? Have you noticed this particular stigma? Have you ever been in a boys club and what was your experience? And most importantly, why don’t people thing we’re funny?

Here’s Christopher Hitchens’ article from VF: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701

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