Last week I talked about a panel of women who discussed their writing careers in comedy. Comedy is an intriguing form of entertainment in terms of the creative process. Everyone has a different sense of humor. Someone might be in tears from laughter while someone will go “why was that funny?” Then there’s the question: can somebody become funny or is it something that happens naturally? So much of comedy relies on being impulsive. This is why so many comedians start out in improvisational comedy. But despite comedy being an instinct for talented writers and performers, so much thought goes into it. Stand-up comedians can literally spend months on a show and still not get a lot of laughs even though they are considered a “funny person.”
So comedy itself can be a complex territory. Female comedians are particularly interesting to me because there seem to be less of them, especially in improvisational comedy and stand-up routines. I’ve attended many improv shows and a few stand-up shows even on USC’s campus, and the female performers are almost always a minority.
In watching interviews with female comedians, a lot of times their gender comes up in the discussion. Some comment on how being an attractive female comedian can actually push them one step back.
Mindy Kaling once said: “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?”
It’s these categories that put restraints on diversity across all entertainment mediums. And I think that’s what is so frustrating for female comedians. Because there are less of them, they seem to be fit into categories, or “types.”
This brings me to an uplifting point- “Saturday Night Live” has been popular for decades, and recently there has been an influx of female talent. Stars such as Kristin Wiig, Amy Poehlr, and Tina Fey (to name a few) have made incredible careers from their success on SNL.
Comedy is such an open form of entertainment because it asks the audience not to judge. And women have always had a large role in comedy. Lucille Ball (“I Love Lucy”) is a perfect example that female comedians is nothing new. And despite female comedians still being in the minority, that so many women have become successful in comedy is a good sign that they won’t be in the minority anymore. After all, funny is funny regardless of gender.