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"Chicks with Shticks?" Really?*
March 7, 2008 2:47 AM   Subscribe

Who says women aren't funny?

*(Any one of these women could've probably come up with a waaaay better headline than that. Just sayin'.)
posted by miss lynnster (145 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I applaud the title you chose for this post.
posted by pjern at 2:55 AM on March 7, 2008


Well, they sure come up with funny rhetorical strawmen sometimes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:55 AM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't get me started. Don't even get me started.
posted by hjo3 at 3:07 AM on March 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


They didn't mention Laura Kightlinger
posted by jfrancis at 3:07 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Who says women aren't funny?
If you have to ask.
posted by therubettes at 3:10 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


What, no Lisa Lampanelli? No Queen of Mean?

I guess she's not exactly Vanity Fair material, but unlike some of these hacks, she is genuinely funny. I mean, what's that Leslie Mann shit all about? "Yeah, my husband writes shit, and I tell him what's funny and what isn't."

Kind of a back seat driver when it comes to comedy writing then?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:15 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott: They mention her briefly top of page 2 of the article.
posted by PenDevil at 3:24 AM on March 7, 2008


It's been suggested that the tendency of women comedians to focus on women's issues is their greatest downfall. The only good female comedian I've seen (in person) spent zero time on humor that dealt explicitly with being a woman or women's issues. Similar experiences MeFites?
posted by andythebean at 3:32 AM on March 7, 2008


Well ever since Jack Black dumped Laura Kightlinger, I'm sure that's all we'll ever hear about her.

And Chelsea? Ugh. The only person laughing in Chelsea's world is her and her million dollar old man.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:38 AM on March 7, 2008


Here's Dawn French's wonderful 2006 show "Girls Who Do Comedy", featuring interviews with many of the best female comedians from the US and UK: 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2, 3-3.
posted by tomcooke at 3:53 AM on March 7, 2008 [16 favorites]


Women don't seem to excel at stand up, but there's more to comedy than stand up. There are plenty of female comedy writers. I'm UKian so the ones I know are Caroline Aherne, creator of the Royle Family, and Victoria Pile, creator of Green Wing.
posted by Summer at 3:53 AM on March 7, 2008


Thanks, PenDevil. I completely missed that there was a page two and three in that article. They still didn't improve it much though.

The women in Curb Your Enthusiasm may all be a complete laff riot when they do stand up, but I'm not seeing it in the show itself, where they portray the usual nagging harridans who've beset sitcoms since time immemorial. None of them has a role like Julia Louis Dreyfuss did in Seinfeld, where they're continually integral to the story *and* hilariously funny in their own right. And though I've been besotted with Sarah Silverman from the moment I heard her routine in The Aristocrats (Best part of the movie. Even better than Gilbert Gottfried, imo.) her TV show is so painfully not funny it's unwatchable.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:02 AM on March 7, 2008


I really wish Maria Bamford got more press. (And it's hard to even find decent quality/a variety of youtube videos of her.)

I am glad, though, to see Amy Sedaris on there.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:16 AM on March 7, 2008 [8 favorites]


I stopped reading when I reached Sarah Silverman's name. Not funny.

Of course, Alessandra Stanley is one of the most error-prone reporters at the New York Times.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:21 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


six-or-six-thirty, we had a Maria Bamford post last September, FYI.
posted by tomcooke at 4:23 AM on March 7, 2008


UbuRoivas, it's not a rhetorical straw man; it's a response to an actual argument put forward by Christopher Hitchens.

The fact that you couldn't believe anyone could actually have made such a brain-dead argument, of course, speaks for itself.

Oh god I hate Hitchens so much it must be some kind of sin.
posted by tiny crocodile at 4:33 AM on March 7, 2008


Maybe it's that the two greatest comedians of the 20th century, without contest Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman, were men, that there is this impression that women are never funny. It seems like a logical fallacy.
posted by nervousfritz at 4:33 AM on March 7, 2008


I curse like a longshoreman and I'm even cuter than Sarah Silverman. Why aren't I in this Vanity Fair article?

Seriously, though: let's all ignore her and she'll just go away.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:36 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I studied improv at Second City in the late 90's when Tina Fey, Rachel Drach, Scott Asdit and a bunch more very talented people were on the main stage there. Second City would allow their performers access to a smaller stage, to try out material that they had written. I saw "Dratch and Fey: A one woman show" and it was some of the best material that I have ever seen in Chicago improv (no small feat). Their take on the Vagina monologues (suffragettes vaginas, Martha Washington's vagina) was so smart--injecting feminist theory and a real knowledge of history--that I was just blown away. They played up to the audience's intelligence (which is a cornerstone of Second City improv). If you got the reference to Cady Stanton you got the joke. If not, shame on you, go read a book (just kidding). It made me want to do improv and do it like they did. Man, those were the days.

I am glad that they have done well.

Back to my coffee.
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:45 AM on March 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


...we had a Maria Bamford post last September, FYI.

In which case, I am sated. And not entirely sure how I missed it. Thanks!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:47 AM on March 7, 2008


This is how you expect to get a husband?
posted by emf at 4:53 AM on March 7, 2008


Maybe it's that the two greatest comedians of the 20th century, without contest Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman, were men, that there is this impression that women are never funny.

My theory is this: the truly great comedians depend upon either subversion or transgression for their humour -- stuff that makes you see the world afresh from a different perspective. The subversive/transgressive impulse isn't totally exclusive to men, and there are very funny women who fall into this category -- the famous clip of Lucy on the chocolate production line is funny because of its subversive nature, IMO. But for a whole host of reasons, these are tendencies have traditionally been associated with men.

That is changing though, and the best of the women -- like Caroline Aherne, Vicky Pile, Lisa Lampanelli, Silverman when she's on, Sandra Bernhard, etc -- are the very best at what they do precisely because they're playing with these subversion/transgression themes.

And while there's a place for the wry observational humour of somebody like Victoria Wood, and personally I enjoy it, its never going to develop the kind of obsessive fanboy following of a Bill Hicks, a Lenny Bruce or an Andy Kaufman.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:58 AM on March 7, 2008


Nthing the Bammer.
posted by DU at 5:05 AM on March 7, 2008


Of course there are funny women. There are also women that are good at math and science. Women that excel at business. I think that it comes from too many man hormones seeping into the fetus or something. Sure it is unfortunate, and you would prefer it if they had been normal and just married and had kids like they are supposed to, but you just have to be thankful that at least they didn't get enough to turn them into lesbos.
posted by ND¢ at 5:12 AM on March 7, 2008 [10 favorites]


jfrancis wrote:

They didn't mention Laura Kightlinger

You know why? Because she's not a "female" comedian. She doesn't rely on the crutch of her gender to be funny. She is one of the top 10 comedians of her era who's material is as strong as anyone out there.

This kind of crap is demeaning to women. Either you are funny or your not, it's articles like this that force female comedian's into a group in some people's minds. The only women I consider "female" comedians are the one's too afraid to step outside of female issues for their comedy. Just like a Korean comedian is one who talks about nothing but his Korean's mother's accent or the short comedian does 10 minutes on being short. There's nothing more refreshing to me than seeing a fat comedian walk on stage and not make one reference to his/her girth. That's comedy 101 and should be relegated on the open mic.
posted by any major dude at 5:26 AM on March 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


nervousfritz, I contest that Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman were the two greatest comics of the 20th century. Richard Pryor? Don Rickles? Is this thing on?

Their influence and popularity were directly correlated to their amazing talent. Rickles is still going strong too by the way.
posted by Mister_A at 5:29 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


ND¢, that was a spot-on imitation of a knuckle-dragger, complete with vague grammar.





that was an imitation, right?
posted by notsnot at 5:29 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, no. American female comedians aren't funny. At least, not the ones they got for Whose Line is It Anyway. You compare the occasional female they had on the American version to the women they had on the British version and it was night and day. The Brits more than held their own, while the Americans looked little more than the lost tokens they were.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:40 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christopher Hitchens.

Also, I've noticed Kristen Wiig has really gotten a lot better on SNL. She used to always play the "Straight" character when she was first on the show.
posted by delmoi at 5:40 AM on March 7, 2008


Here's a theory: looking attractive and being funny are not highly compatible in the way that an attractive appearance and an attractive singing voice might be. The good looks and the humour evoke conflicting responses. So ugly bastards make good comedians, and women, who are generally better to look at than men (YMMV, obviously) are handicapped in the comedy stakes.
posted by Phanx at 5:49 AM on March 7, 2008


A few weeks ago I saw Patrice Oneal do stand-up. For those not familiar, his act is basically nonstop misogyny. Sometimes in subtle ways, but he takes care to show a fairly deep (and occasionally disturbing) disrespect for women.

The opening act was a lady comic of the sort andythebean suggests isn't funny. And she wasn't funny. She was a hack whose every joke was either about a) her old, leathery vagina; or b) her lazy, hairy husband.

More important than the question of whether women can be funny (of course they can), is the question of who booked that? Was it smart--throw a bone to the lady-knuckle-draggers before Patrice threw them under the bus--or completely boneheaded?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:55 AM on March 7, 2008


I was recently introduced to Mary van Note (user maryvannotes on youtube). Definitely a unique talent (in my limited experience anyway). It's all quite nsfw so be careful out there kids.

via this fartparty strip.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:58 AM on March 7, 2008


looking attractive and being funny are not highly compatible in the way that an attractive appearance and an attractive singing voice might be. The good looks and the humour evoke conflicting responses.

Good theory. Having watched a skinny funny-as-fuck male comedian put on some weight to become relatively normal (and not unattractive) looking, I think I agree.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:02 AM on March 7, 2008


All of the female comedians on Best Week Ever are hilarious*. My wife and I constantly check to see if they're ever in the Boston area because we'd go see them in a flash.

But we also listen to XM radio's stand-up stations pretty frequently and the dearth of funny females is kinda disheartening. I don't know if it's because of the people who XM chooses to play or an actual lack of female comedians or what, but seriously, there's some Larry the Cable Guy bits better than the majority of the female voices on that channel and I'm of the ilk that believes that Larry should be ground up into a fine powder and stored deep within underground vaults next to strains of other virulent diseases that have been wiped from the face of humanity.

Also, we should spit on him.

Looking over Vanity Fair's list, I don't see a whole lot of traditional stand up folks there. Sure, there are women who got their start in stand up (Sykes, Bernhard, Essman), but they all moved quickly to being actresses more than comics. Some of them have made the transition better than others (we were surprised to be left in stitches by a Wanda Sykes bit on XM, as we have never found her funny on TV or in movies).

I wonder if the strength of female comics comes from their expressiveness and their delivery? That sort of thing plays much better on TV or in movies than it does on a recording of a standup performance or from being a lone distant figure on stage behind a microphone. So, yeah, there are funny women, but their talents are wasted on being stand up comics. They'd be much funnier (or have less barriers to funny?) on screen.

But getting on screen for women involves more than just being funny. Unfortunately, it relies upon appearance too. Which really sucks, because it means that pretty-yet-not-very-funny women can get on TV before hilarious-but-not-demographically-alluring women.

*Melissa Rauch, will you be my TV Girlfriend? My wife is okay with it. Really, she is. But if you could get Rob Huebel to distract her, that give us more time for, uh, us.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:25 AM on March 7, 2008


tomcooke,

That Dawn French video is brilliant -- those are some truly funny women. Real women, too... not the packaged-for-prime-time types that people watch only 'cause they're good-looking. Vanity Fair -- meh. Thanks for the link.
posted by bloomicy at 6:29 AM on March 7, 2008


Of course some chicks are funny. So what?
posted by rickh at 6:32 AM on March 7, 2008


I think I agree with some of what Phanx says. My immediate thoughts as to why standup is not the usual domain for women has to do with both the visual dimension from male gazeitude that is additive to the expectations/aggression of the audience, combined with the usual socialisation pressures growing up as a constant visual focus of attention. There are, it seems to (ignorant, non-female) me, more perceptions of risk to do standup if you are a woman, dissuading a fair % of possible good candidates for the role.
posted by peacay at 6:37 AM on March 7, 2008


Women aren't worse in stand up but starting out, in the open mics there are way fewer female comics. Now it isn't like the women are any worse than the men. They're similarly awful. There are just fewer of them than there are men. Way fewer. So from the pool of people involved I would say that women are pretty well represented. I would say that the good women get ahead a little bit easier than the men do there is a novelty to it, and an apetite for something different.

Now why are there way fewer starting out? This is a fair question. my theory is that being funny is more rewarded in men than an women. Women desire a funny man more than men desire a funny woman. This doesn't explain the whole difference, the community can be pretty insular, but I think if not for this difference it would find a way other than gender lines of being insular.
posted by I Foody at 6:42 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ditto thanks to tomcooke.

The links are gorgeous.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:45 AM on March 7, 2008


Not a single mention of Lizz Winstead, Creator of The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn? OUTRAGE!
posted by kittyprecious at 7:01 AM on March 7, 2008


I curse like a longshoreman and I'm even cuter than Sarah Silverman...
posted by
pxe2000

PIX OR IT DIDNT HAPPEN

/Sorry, I can't help myself...

posted by spoobnooble at 7:11 AM on March 7, 2008


this will not have ended well.
posted by yonation at 7:12 AM on March 7, 2008


drta, but anyone who thinks Andy Kaufman was a great comedian doesn't really understand either Andy Kaufman or comedians.
posted by yhbc at 7:22 AM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Andythebean> It's been suggested that the tendency of women comedians to focus on women's issues is their greatest downfall. The only good female comedian I've seen (in person) spent zero time on humor that dealt explicitly with being a woman or women's issues. Similar experiences MeFites?

I wrote this a while back on the Straight Dope Message Board:

"So many female comedians, though, base their acts around ... well, being female. If I see a female standup comedian on Comedy Central or HBO, seven or eight times out of ten she'll be talking about her period, bashing her boyfriend, or whining about her weight. They're like talking Cathy comic strips. It reminds me of the black comedians whose acts are centered around their race, who don't stray far from the "white people walk like this [stiff walk] black people walk like this [cool walk]" bits.

White male comedians generally don't base their acts around being white or male. They don't dwell on tools or sports. I've seen a lot of funny female comedians, but the best have acts where they don't kvetch about menstruation, shopping or their boyfriend's penis; Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman, Janeane Garafolo, and ... well, give me a few mintes to think of some more.

Something to consider: watching improv, do you find yourself laughing at the women as much as the men on stage? If so, the problem probably lies with the typical female comedy act."
posted by elmwood at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2008


So wait, who actually says that women aren't funny?
posted by m0nm0n at 7:29 AM on March 7, 2008


Many women are unintentionally funny...
posted by sfts2 at 7:32 AM on March 7, 2008


There is a vas deferens between lovers and haters of Sarah Silverman.
posted by kosem at 7:34 AM on March 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


spoobnooble,
Judge for yourself.
:)
posted by andythebean at 7:34 AM on March 7, 2008


phanx--You're right. It's interesting to note that Lucille Ball was drop-dead gorgeous as a young woman (seriously, dig up an old black-and-white movie with her in it), but she played it down as Lucy Ricardo. And on The Honeymooners, Audrey Meadows (who played Alice) was criticized when she tried out for the role as being "too pretty." She tried out again and won the part by frumping herself up.
posted by adamrice at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2008


Paula Poundstone and Catherine Tate
posted by lukemeister at 7:42 AM on March 7, 2008


So wait, who actually says that women aren't funny?

A coupla people.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:43 AM on March 7, 2008


White male comedians generally don't base their acts around being white or male.

I'm not sure this is strictly true and not just a matter of perception bias. I think lots of comedians just make fun of what they know, and lots of times for guys that's guy stuff and lots of times for women it's women's stuff. Also, since there are fewer female comedians than male, it may seem to some female comedians that there is more "female" material to mine that hasn't been done before a million times.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:43 AM on March 7, 2008


In my daily life, I find funny women to be a much rarer breed than funny men. Maybe, as a male dude, I'm just biased, or just don't get a lot of female humor. This is not to say that I believe in any way that women aren't or can't be funny, but I definitely don't run into as many joke-crackin' ladies as I do men.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:46 AM on March 7, 2008


Well, Lucy may have played down being pretty to be Lucy Ricardo, but she also made "joke" requests that Vivian Vance remain overweight to make her the more attractive of the two. Because Ethel was actually, in real life, even hotter.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:49 AM on March 7, 2008


I think choosing Amy Winehouse to participate in that Vanity Fair thing was a huge mistake. While she can be really witty in interviews and such, 9 times out of 10, when someone is laughing at her, it's because she's wasted or something. That just ends up strengthening sfts2's oh-so-clever point.
posted by piratebowling at 8:00 AM on March 7, 2008


Vivian Vance, hot or not?
posted by sfts2 at 8:03 AM on March 7, 2008


Pretty funny that their only mention of Rachel Dratch is her being cut from 30 Rock. Why glam up a comedian with timing and wit when you can have Mya "Alvy's Grandpa's Bowel Cancer Was Funnier Than Me" Rudolf in front of the camera?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:04 AM on March 7, 2008


White male comedians generally don't base their acts around being white or male.

I'm with onlyconnect on this; in fact, you might rephrase it: other people don't judge white male comedians on basing their acts around being white or male.

Bill Hicks can make dick jokes until the cows come home, and this is not (necessarily) seen as male; it's seen as Bill Hicks making dick jokes. Yet a female comedian who bases a routine on mocking, say, the Vagina Monologues, is seen as taking about "women's stuff".

Another example: I remember seeing Demetri Martin in Edinburgh a few years back with a show called If I ..., the central premise of which was his geeky, obsessive need to classify and codify everything that happened in his life. Much of the humour was about how this is a very male thing to do, yet he wasn't called out for talking about "men's stuff"; he was praised – and rightly so, because the show was fucking hilarious – for talking about obsession in its various forms.

White male comedians aren't (often) judged on being white and male because their viewpoint is the default setting for so much of western culture; the shifting of this viewpoint to female (black/asian/gay/insert your other of choice here) is judged as being jarring, because it forces people to think about the fact that the default viewpoint contains its own inbuilt assumptions about what constitutes identity.
posted by Len at 8:04 AM on March 7, 2008 [23 favorites]


Aaaaand, nevermind. I just reread the link that made me think Amy was involved at all. Fuck, I need coffee. And to put my glasses on. And to recalibrate my "likelyhood meter."
posted by piratebowling at 8:15 AM on March 7, 2008


Sandra Bernhardt? Or David Lee Roth?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:15 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Of course women are funny.
Chelsea Handler, otoh, isn't.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:22 AM on March 7, 2008


Your favorite female comedian sucks.
posted by cazoo at 8:29 AM on March 7, 2008


In my book, funny = sexy. (Oh, how I miss Madeline Kahn...)

And it is perfectly okay if they laugh in bed. I laugh everytime I see myself naked too.
posted by Samizdata at 8:34 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


@Miss Lynnster -- very interesting. But I think I'll still give the nod to Lucy.
posted by adamrice at 8:36 AM on March 7, 2008


"You know why? Because she's not a "female" comedian. She doesn't rely on the crutch of her gender to be funny."

I too do not like comedians whose humor relies on something specific to one sex, race, or culture. Being insolent, subversive, and above all, clever, is seems to be the key to being funny. Also, the best ones that last forever, seem to have a lot of good philosophy that connects and enriches their humor. Bill Hicks, George Carlin, anyone?

As a male, I'll be honest. I think these particular women get as much attention as they do because they're attractive, and I think several of these women are pretty funny, like Tina Fey and Jenna Fischer. (Wanda Sykes is the biggest hack in the business, I've never heard anything even slightly intelligent or clever come out of her mouth, and she is brutally fucking obnoxious, if being the biggest cunt of all time is funny then I don't get it)

This attention, I believe, comes from this fantasy. The dream woman for nearly every man that I know (women say this to varying degrees about men too) is for her to be genuinely funny, not just cute or sassy humor, but something hilarious that makes beverages come out of guy's nose. The Girls I know like this are coveted. Funny girls will ALWAYS have their pick of the litter.
posted by hellslinger at 8:41 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I liked Kightlinger and thought she was funny.

Until she did whatever the hell it is she did to her face. Now all I can think of when I see her is "Max Headroom sure let himself go."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:44 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why does the discussion of who is funny -- especially when it's about whether women are funny -- so often begin and end with standup comedians? I mean, do that many people even watch standup? What about funny writers?
posted by transona5 at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2008


hellslinger, please lay off the gendered insults. As a woman, I find them offensive and they make me want to leave the thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:53 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, women aren't funny. And they're terrible drivers, too, AMIRITE?

Um, what? This thread is really wack.
posted by lunit at 9:07 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you don't think women are funny, maybe you just don't "get it."
posted by PinkMolly at 9:09 AM on March 7, 2008


My theory is this: the truly great comedians depend upon either subversion or transgression for their humour -- stuff that makes you see the world afresh from a different perspective. The subversive/transgressive impulse isn't totally exclusive to men, and there are very funny women who fall into this category -- the famous clip of Lucy on the chocolate production line is funny because of its subversive nature, IMO. But for a whole host of reasons, these are tendencies have traditionally been associated with men.

This just about nails it. There are a lot of men who are hacks too, talking about racial differences and airline food- because they know it will make a sizable portion of the audience laugh.

Going for "laughs" is what has made stand-up comedy the awful, soul-crushing experience it is today. "Laughs" are not comedy. People laugh at stand-ups because it's expected, because their drunk, and because they are the kind of people willing to put up with the two-drink-minimum hell that is a mainstream comedy club- which is to say, either tourists or extremely easy to please. I might laugh at someone falling down or getting hit in the balls if I happen to see it on the street, but that hardly makes it great comedy.

To me it boils down to this: If you can describe it to someone else later and it still seems funny, that's probably comedy. 'hey i saw this guy on the street today and he got hit in the balls!" fails this test. So does most stand-up comedy. Moments of real comedy pass the test because they twist the world into something new.

As an aside, perhaps Tina Fey has some talent, I haven't really seen much of it. But she trades off her image in a huge way: 'i wear glasses and have black hair, therefore I must be intelligent" is what she seems to be desperately screaming every time i see her. Her taking a shot at jennifer Aniston is completely disegenous. Breasts and blonde hair aside, Aniston has far far more talent as a comic actor. The reknowned feminist Fey continues to build her career by trading on tired-ass female stereotypes. "Blondes are dumb" was old in 1947.

Yeah, she was (is?) head writer of SNL. But then again, the captain of the Titanic isn't really all that reknowned in nautical circles.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2008


Jewish comedians have always been funny.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 AM on March 7, 2008


But she trades off her image in a huge way: 'i wear glasses and have black hair'

That's not her "image", that's what she looks like.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:17 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Breasts and blonde hair aside, Aniston has far far more talent as a comic actor.

I disagree. But that could be because I'm tired of the one character she plays and not the one character Tina Fey plays.

Yeah, she was (is?) head writer of SNL. But then again, the captain of the Titanic isn't really all that reknowned in nautical circles.

Ok, you've got a point there. But have you seen 30 Rock? Freakin' genius. Just watched 30 Rock: Season 1 on Netflix "Watch It Now" and laughed my butt off.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:19 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never get the 'women aren't funny' thing. It's like suggesting that blacks, or short people, or people who like to ski aren't funny. Like there is some inbuilt genetic racial gendered disposition to white men where they are the only ones capable of standing up and making people laugh.

It's absurd.

That said, I've always found it sad when they try to do a special based around one cultural, racial, sexually oriented, or gendered group of comedians. Invariable there are two or three really talented people, but there are also ten or so others who fit the definition enough to warrant a place on the show, but whom have no skill whatsoever. They make me cringe and need to change the channel.

As to the subject at hand, anyone who questions whether or not women can be funny need only look to Tina Fey, I'm sure it helps that she is pretty, but I've laughed my ass off at jokes that she has put together only to later learn that she was the person who responsible, to my mind, this is a clear indication that it's the quality of the humor itself, not the face that's delivering it. She is smart, capable, and above all, very good at making people laugh.
posted by quin at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2008


@drjimmy 'hey i saw this guy on the street today and he got hit in the balls!" fails this test

I hate to admit it, but this really did make me laugh out loud. Perhaps because it made me think of Idiocracy.
posted by adamrice at 9:26 AM on March 7, 2008


Who says women aren't funny?

Morons. Can we be done with this now?
posted by Skot at 9:33 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect: I don't believe I made any. Read what is there, not what you might want to read in order to justify indignation.
posted by hellslinger at 9:40 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who think that everything in the world should fit into their preconceived oversimplified boxes are often confused when encountering things that don't.
posted by spock at 9:41 AM on March 7, 2008


Hellslinger,

The "gendered insult" problem peeks out & waves at some of us in this sentence of yours:

(Wanda Sykes is the biggest hack in the business, I've never heard anything even slightly intelligent or clever come out of her mouth, and she is brutally fucking obnoxious, if being the biggest cunt of all time is funny then I don't get it)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:52 AM on March 7, 2008


Okay, okay, women can be funny. Fine.

Can we at least all still agree that they suck at directing feature films and composing music?

(Answers: no and no.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2008


If you can describe it to someone else later and it still seems funny, that's probably comedy. 'hey i saw this guy on the street today and he got hit in the balls!" fails this test.

If by "fails" you mean, "passes with flying colors," then I agree.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:55 AM on March 7, 2008


It works on so many levels!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 AM on March 7, 2008


As an aside, perhaps Tina Fey has some talent, I haven't really seen much of it. But she trades off her image in a huge way: 'i wear glasses and have black hair, therefore I must be intelligent" is what she seems to be desperately screaming every time i see her. Her taking a shot at jennifer Aniston is completely disegenous. Breasts and blonde hair aside, Aniston has far far more talent as a comic actor.

I love stand up comedy and comedy writing so I'm very interested in this.

drjimmy11: I don't think Tina Fey's perceived image, as you have described it, is part of her performance or shtick. I think her comedy writing, especially during the years she wrote for SNL, which I think had the best cast since Farley, Hartman, Carvey, Morgan and others, is testament to her abilities, which I think are great. She has a knack for being a genuinely good smartass without having to invoke any stereotypes or cliches.

I suggest giving the show 30 rock a watch, which she stars in and writes for. IMO it is a funny, well written series, and I'm a person who doesn't ever watch TV (one of 3 shows I watch online). The cast and writers (several do both) are comics, like Judah Friedlander, Scott Adsit, and Rachel Dratch.

Jennifer Aniston, IMO, is a lousy comedy actor. Her character is a stereotype, for which I would think Women would be disgusted by, not to mention it is simple, predictable, and completely trite. The show "Friends" was quippy, played-out garbage and I still wonder why anyone watched it.
posted by hellslinger at 9:59 AM on March 7, 2008


I just want to say I like robocop is bleeding's plan re: Larry the Cable Guy. Can we make that a mefi project? We could probably get funding for it... a grant of some kind....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:09 AM on March 7, 2008


We might be mostly past it, but I still feel obliged to call an allcaps BULLSHIT on one strain of glib assertion running throughout this thread:

She doesn't rely on the crutch of her gender to be funny.

White male comedians generally don't base their acts around being white or male. They don't dwell on tools or sports.

I too do not like comedians whose humor relies on something specific to one sex, race, or culture.


There might be more, but these were the most reeking piles of the stuff. Like hell most male comedians don't rely on their gender or racial or cultural biases to build their shticks. (Stop and read one more time the term we generally use to refer to a comedian's overall style and tell me there's nothing ethnoculturally biased in American white male comedy. Rodney Dangerfield and Jon Stewart - among countless others - may have turned their names goy, but they still had shticks.)

One of Lenny Bruce's most famous bits was a jazzy riff on a man's neurotic obsession with making a girl come (he turned it into wordplay, but like hell it wasn't a dick-based riff). Both Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor built significant chunks of their careers on (admittedly very inventive) dick and race jokes. Jerry Seinfeld built his career on being a neurotic Upper West Sider, which you could argue wasn't necessarily ethnic humour (even if it was rife with allusions to NYC-style Judaica) but was sure as hell culturally specific. Ditto Larry David and Jon Stewart. Without tools, Tim Allen's got no career, and without his accent neither does Jeff Foxworthy. One of George Carlin's most beloved bits is about the difference between football and baseball, and several others are about being Irish Catholic. And even Bill Hicks, I'd argue, owed the real fire in his act to being an angry American (which is why he was so well-loved in Britain, and why the watered-down version of his act - i.e. Denis Leary - was essentially a caricature of the unrepentent American asshole.)

And there's nothing wrong with any of it, the same way there's nothing wrong with a female comedian using woman-specific subjects in her shtick. The specific is funnier than the general; cultural, racial, ethnic, political and gender differences create much of the friction in a society, and one of the most effective places to do satire and subversive/transgressive comedy is at a society's points of friction.

The only difference is that when women do self-referential material, we call it a weakness. And it is, to be clear, a BULLSHIT call.
posted by gompa at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2008 [21 favorites]


Jody Tresidder: So come right out and say it, if I hadn't used the word "cunt" you wouldn't have been offended. Fine, replace it with "asshole" or "jerk" or whatever the hell you want. Is it still offensive then? And if I call a male a "cunt" its OK then, right?

Have you ever called any woman (maybe a boss, or someone who was mean to you) a "bitch" before, to you friends before, say, after a few drinks at the bar? Would that be a "gendered" insult?

I understand that women will come into this thread already taking a defensive stance considering the derogatory nature of the title and the article in question, and this is perfectly understandable, but don't let double standards or conveniently inconvenient vocabulary detract from opinion that is realistic and supportive of all comedians who posses wit and make a genuine effort to be funny, regardless of their biological details.

Since it is clear that the article is coming from a male perspective, take it as a data point and leave the indignation aside, it adds nothing to the discussion.
posted by hellslinger at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem is really what you consider to be funny. Because a heck of a lot of people find sitcoms like full house to be funny. And those same people may think the stuff that you find funny to be pretentious tripe. And then there are those people who loudly go on about the crap they think is funny and call everything that the rotting fat in their skulls doesn't understand utter shit. I don't get the hate. There's nothing wrong with race or gender or whatever-specific comedy. Its funny. Not everything has to be a race for the masses.

I find that altering the chemicals in my brain help me appreciate the kind of commedy that would otherwise bore me to death. You gotta find some way to connect with the normals.
posted by captaincrouton at 10:19 AM on March 7, 2008


Calling a woman a "cunt" carries a lot of baggage with it. It's been pretty universally applied to diminish and humiliate women. Why didn't you just say you don't think she's very funny? Leaning on gendered language is a cheap - and painful - shot.

Do you really need this to be explained to you, or are you just trolling?
posted by lunit at 10:26 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


lunit and Jody Tresidder, I heartily agree. Oh god I don't want another metatalk thread though. I flagged the comment >1 hour ago and wish it could just be removed (btw I don't mind if any of my comments on it are removed as well) and we move on with the discussion. Please not another metatalk thread.

Also, to gompa and Len, thanks for taking the time to intelligently explain a position I heartily agree with!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:34 AM on March 7, 2008



White male comedians aren't (often) judged on being white and male because their viewpoint is the default setting for so much of western culture; the shifting of this viewpoint to female (black/asian/gay/insert your other of choice here) is judged as being jarring, because it forces people to think about the fact that the default viewpoint contains its own inbuilt assumptions about what constitutes identity.


Agreed. I've done some stand-up comedy. It's one of few occasions in my life in which I wear makeup because otherwise I am going to be a "lesbian comic" instead of just a comic. Or so I hope.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:34 AM on March 7, 2008


Wanda Sykes is total shit, but it's damn near impossible to get away with dropping a hard 'c' and still be taken seriously, especially in a thread that's so gender-issue oriented.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:37 AM on March 7, 2008


I understand that women will come into this thread already taking a defensive stance considering the derogatory nature of the title and the article in question, and this is perfectly understandable, but don't let double standards or conveniently inconvenient vocabulary detract from opinion that is realistic and supportive of all comedians who posses wit and make a genuine effort to be funny, regardless of their biological details.

Hellslinger,
There's your problem - right there.

You assume that "women" will be defensive about the "derogatory nature" of the post's title.

I am a woman, and I don't find the title anything to get defensive about. I "get" it. So you don't have to be insufferably understanding on that score, thanksallthesame.

You seem to think you have an objective/realistic handle on which comedians display "wit" and genuinely aim to be funny.

But you don't. I enjoy Wanda Sykes very much.

"Cunt" is a loaded word, ripe with potential offense in most forums.

And - no - I don't use it even when I'm at my most uninhibited, actually. (Some women do, I do not).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:55 AM on March 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Any Judy Gold fans? She's a woman, she's also Jewish and a lesbian. She's very funny and her being any of those three things aren't really important to me.
posted by cazoo at 11:09 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tend to avoid all threads that focus on particular female comedians, because they all follow a similarly insane trajectory: "That female comedian isn't funny, and she's not as cute as she thinks she is." Then things turn philosophical: "Female comedians make too many jokes about their vaginas. HOWEVER, I once saw a female comedian make a bunch of dick jokes, and it seemed really aggressive and like she was trying too hard to be like a man, so I didn't like that either." Then someone mentions Madeline Kahn. It's...not good, you guys.

And where did this idea that vaginas are less inherently funny than dicks come from, anyway? What is a vagina but an animal mouth full of promises? I laugh just thinking about mine.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 11:13 AM on March 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


I kind of hate to blast out a whole bunch of the thread, especially when there's no reason a good sidebar discussion/refutation of the casual use of "cunt" can't happen here. And as onlyconnect says, the last thing we need is another metatalk thread right now. So here's my suggestion: we leave things intact, let the record stand, and move on.

hellslinger, I think you're pretty much flat-out wrong in shrugging off your culpability here. There's a lot more going on in the discursive use of that word, for a heck of a lot of people here, than you just picking a random synonym for "jerk"; if that's truly how you meant it, I think you're really firmly into outlier, missing-the-bus territory but so be it. Please take the reaction here into account and consider spending some time reading through this recent discussion.
posted by cortex at 11:27 AM on March 7, 2008


What is a vagina but an animal mouth full of promises? I laugh just thinking about mine.

Well, it did study at Second City...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2008


It seems that a large percentage of comedy, for better or worse, involves the difficulties of people trying to get laid -- women are at a distinct disadvantage in this as long as they can walk into most any bar and find a dozen volunteers by merely asking "Anyone wanna fuck"?
posted by RavinDave at 12:15 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Any Judy Gold fans?"

She's awfully funny, yeah. I like her a lot.

"She's a woman, she's also Jewish and a lesbian."

I did not know that she's a lesbian. I will count this as my "learn one new thing each day" thing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:17 PM on March 7, 2008


This will be the last I say about this due to the self-righteous hypersensitivity to a single word which I used deliberately to accuse a comic who, I believe, perpetuates negative stereotypes about multiple groups of people, in her act, by being exactly what the word means. But I feel the need to defend myself to those who didn't even respond to anything else I had said other than seeing that one word that didn't suit them and retort.

Cortex: I appreciate you not lashing out at this and actually analyzing what I said.

I'm not dodging responsibility for loading into my post, the full potency of the word. I honestly believe she is trying to be a "cunt" in whatever definition of the word one might conveniently choose at this point; I believe it is part of her schtick. I suppose it was wrong to assume that everyone would try to understand my usage and take it with context. Some think it was too far, I get that. Was it worth derailing the whole thread in order to show how PC you are and how wrong you think I am?

Rather, my suggestion of replacing the word with a more benign one was so that those offended would look past it and consider the rest of the points that I had made during that post. It was to show that condemning my whole post because of a single word used with very light emphasis was short sighted. I apologize to anyone who took offense to it, but I chose the word because I thought it was most apt for the context.

Jody Tressider: One might say the phrase "Who says women aren't funny" is a title meant to retort to a statement made by Higgins saying "Women aren't funny". Maybe you didn't read the article and wanted to jump right in. Is it a stretch to assume that maybe people cognizant of this might approach such a discussion slightly defensively, or ready to be? If the retorts towards my post weren't so many and virulent, I might agree with you. On the other hand, maybe not, perhaps you are the authority on what all Women thought entering this thread.

Maybe it is also a wrong assumption to think that comedians who exploit negative stereotypes might offend people of their gender or race. But, apparently, you are the expert and I was a fool for not consulting you first.

And you're also saying you've never called any woman a "bitch" before (Did you read that I wrote "bitch" instead of "cunt" and wanted to start writing a sardonic retort without delay). Or, maybe you were SO offended, either because of my choice of words, or because you won't stand for anyone to make fun of your favorite comedian, that you were willing to say anything to discredit me with your superior credentials.

Regardless, all I can tell at this point is that all you did was attack me without adding anything to the conversation, and give high fives to the other people who did the same thing.
posted by hellslinger at 12:31 PM on March 7, 2008


uhhh.... wtf is up with this thread? I generally think that mefi can do better than this level of knuckle dragging commentary. Make a light-hearted "gendered" post and it's like the moon is full and all the creep lurkers come out or something.
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 12:40 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


hell, I am sorry to hop on this argument which doesn't include me at all, but comments like that have no place in friendly discussion. What makes mefi an island of 'good' in a sea of mediocrity and 13yr old trolls is that the locals don't allow that kind of negativity and spite in.
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2008


hellslinger, I'm glad you can appreciate me not getting ultraviolent on you, but I kind of wish you hadn't responded to "let's move on" with fairly dismissive eight paragraph defense of your own usage. It's not a goddam "look how PC I am!" thing, it's the basic goddam sensibility that you're sharing this site with a whole bunch of people who would as soon go the rest of their life without hearing some dude call a woman he doesn't like a cunt. It's not rocket science. Please cut it out; go read that thread I linked; and stop trying to excuse yourself.
posted by cortex at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


"I apologize to anyone who took offense to it, but I chose the word because I thought it was most apt for the context."

Because you wanted to attack her as a woman using a sexist slur.

"a single word which I used deliberately to accuse a comic who, I believe, perpetuates negative stereotypes about multiple groups of people, in her act, by being exactly what the word means."

Are you sure you know what the word means?

I'm sorry for continuing to de-rail this thread. If y'all want, we can take this to MeTa, though I really don't want to.
posted by lunit at 12:49 PM on March 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hellslinger,
You floor me.

I write: You assume that "women" will be defensive about the "derogatory nature" of the post's title. I am a woman, and I don't find the title anything to get defensive about. I "get" it. So you don't have to be insufferably understanding on that score, thanksallthesame.

You return the volley with:. On the other hand, maybe not, perhaps you are the authority on what all Women thought entering this thread.

Which just flat out ignores my unambiguous point that I am only speaking for myself.

I most certainly did notice that after I pointed out that "cunt" was a gendered insult, you decided to ask whether I'd ever called another woman a "bitch" in a private conversation.

Two different words. Two totally different contexts. We were not discussing the less problematic "bitch" in the first place.

To be honest, I'm not sure I do know exactly what you personally mean by "cunt".
The precise definition is often unclear; it can shade all the way from brutal loathing to very vulgar affection.

And your precious comment wasn't especially witty, or insightful or especially worth a response - in my opinion - save for what seemed like a feeble attempt to provoke by using "cunt" in this thread.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:54 PM on March 7, 2008


Please take this to the MetaTalk thread posted by Cortex or send me a personal message if you wish to discuss the issue of my first post, we've ruined this thread enough.
posted by hellslinger at 1:01 PM on March 7, 2008


Hellslinger,

The other reason you're not thinking straight is here.

You write: "Regardless, all I can tell at this point is that all you did was attack me without adding anything to the conversation, and give high fives to the other people who did the same thing."

Attack you?

Actually, I stepped so far back from a hostile swipe - I practically placed my objection on a little satin cushion of cute.

Look at what I originally wrote...

"The "gendered insult" problem peeks out & waves at some of us in this sentence of yours...". [Then I quoted your "cunt" comment.]

That is not an attack.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:10 PM on March 7, 2008


Jody: If you are interested in a discussion about this, send me a personal message or take it to the MetaTalk thread, please.
posted by hellslinger at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2008


hellslinger, I understand that you feel backed up against a wall right now by people who you think are willfully misreading your post, but leaving aside the question of whether it's ever okay for a man to call a woman a cunt, your original comment didn't even mention any of your deeper objections to Wanda Sykes' material and persona. It sounded like you were calling her a cunt for telling jokes you didn't like, which is pretty startling by anyone's standards.

Now, I think most of us would prefer not to take this to MetaTalk and be embroiled in another thousand-comment sexism thread, so either we declare this thread a horse that frothed itself to death, or we all rally round and tell the best period joke we can think of! Yeah? Who's with me?
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2008


There is no Metatalk post (and please let's not make one). Hellslinger has apologized to me privately in memail, and hopefully has done the same with Jody and lunit. I'm in favor of moving on.

*frantically tries to think of a joke*
posted by onlyconnect at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2008


On the contrary, I don't feel backed up into a wall, I would just prefer to stop polluting the thread with everyone trying to get the last word. I'd be glad to continue this discussion right here or with personal messages. What's the call?
posted by hellslinger at 1:21 PM on March 7, 2008


*frantically scrolls back to the last joke anybody told*

Well, it did study at Second City...

Ha ha! Ahem! As if! My vagina performs alone, and carries its own curtains wherever it goes.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:22 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


" or we all rally round and tell the best period joke we can think of! Yeah? Who's with me?"

I'm not kidding PRBaby - I first thought you meant we had to tell Victorian or Edwardian jokes!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:23 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


That would have been a much, much better idea on my part.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:26 PM on March 7, 2008


"You know why? Because she's not a "female" comedian. She doesn't rely on the crutch crotch of her gender to be funny."
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2008


Judy Gold! Judy Gold! "It's Ju-dy's Sho-ow!" Giant spit-curl! Hilarity! Yeah? Anyone? ...Aw, nuts.

Let us also not forget the experimental and accordion-enhanced comedic stylings of Judy Tenuta, about whom I haven't thought in a while but sure was funny, eh?
posted by kittyprecious at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2008


What's the difference between a rowing boat and Joan of Arc? One is made of wood and the other is Maid of Orleans.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:38 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I, too, find the idea that many female comedians rely on "woman jokes" to be interesting, because it makes me wonder to what extent male comedians rely on "man jokes"-- and to what extent we all (all men, or all people) take that for granted.

Is the market for stand-up primarily male? The article touches on this briefly, w/r/t television choices and purchases of movie tickets, but I'd love to see some more detailed demographic information.

I mean, consider the vulgar term called out in this thread. Isn't it liberally spread through the work of a lot of the comedians mentioned in this thread, even if it's regarded more tolerably in that context? It's clear that differently gendered audiences prefer different sorts of comedy. Regardless of whether you or I find him funny, Andrew Dice Clay was a tremendously successful comedian-- and I don't recall him talking a lot about, say, tools, or computers. So was Whoopi Goldberg. But I don't think that there's a lot of intersection in their audiences.

I know what I like-- it tends to be shocking, transgressive; it tends to make people say, "I can't believe they just said that!"-- and I think it's a preference that's shared primarily by men (yeah, I know, there's a lot of overlap in the curves). I wonder if any women here are willing to share some sort of essence of what they find funny, that many men don't. (I'm sure that tampons and make-up don't have a lot to do with it.)
posted by nathan v at 1:40 PM on March 7, 2008


Don't forget uproarious cartoons, onlyconnect. "Station Master say, Mum, as Cats is 'Dogs', and rabbits is 'Dogs', and so's Parrots; but this ere 'Tortis' is a insect, so there aint no charge for it." Ah, History! What a pantswetter.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:52 PM on March 7, 2008


Nathan v,

As far as it can define a comic preference stuff that "tends to be shocking, transgressive; it tends to make people say, "I can't believe they just said that!" - as you put it - certainly covers what I love.

But even among (fairly) normal female friends, there's a huge area of disagreement. I had a fairly serious argument with an incredibly close friend - we agreed in the end to leave the topic well alone - because I really cracked up during (most of) The Aristocrats movie - and she really, really loathed it. (Thank god we saw it separately).

I agree, though, that I'll tolerate c-word humor in certain contexts.

But that's not fantastically helpful - since it depends on the context!!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:56 PM on March 7, 2008


"Station Master say, Mum, as Cats is 'Dogs', and rabbits is 'Dogs', and so's Parrots; but this ere 'Tortis' is a insect, so there aint no charge for it."

Oh God, Powerful Religious Baby, Freud used to read that one out loud to his female patients to "break the ice". (Apparently it's much funnier with an accent).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:04 PM on March 7, 2008


No doubt his beard helped as well. No doubt it tickled the joke as it flew by, and delivered it already giggling into the minds of his listeners.

nathan v, I'm racking my brains over here, and I just can't think of many things I find funny that men don't as well. Then again, I don't enjoy much stand-up in general. I've always preferred sketch comedy to stand-up; I prefer to watch people interacting in funny ways as opposed to one single lunatic shouting in my face while pacing up and down and pouring sweat like...like Christopher Hitchens.

Full circle, my friends. Full circle.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2008


I'm just surprised that nobody else is bothered by the implication of Vanity Fair's "sure, women can be funny, but only if they're also hot."
posted by mckenney at 3:58 PM on March 7, 2008


Is every discussion of gendered cultural inequity going to pivot on the history and use of the word "cunt?" For how long? I think most of us are past that. It's really not the place, and a total derail, because everyone knows that Funny and Cunt may NEVER MIX.

*rolls up thread real tight, shoves up cunt, trundles off*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2008


Probably best to jump in post-derail to try and re-open it again, then, yeah.

*gives AV a noogie*

posted by cortex at 4:34 PM on March 7, 2008


Sarah Silverman's schtick is gettin' a little tired. Constant sarcasm ruins the element of surprise - and that's a HUGE ingredient in good comedy. When you know whatever she's saying is either sarcasm, or is about to be opposed in her follow-up sentence, it just feels so "bleh".

Amy Sedaris was had a few choice moments "Strangers with Candy", but overall I'd say it was another failed attempt for a Comedy Central original sitcom.

Sandra Bernhard? What's she done lately?

Tina Fey might be funny on paper (her writing is generally impressive) but she's only funny in the way that Ben Stiller is funny : when she's being herself, you laugh mostly at their goofy brand of self-loathing, but when they try to step out and be "someone else", it comes off as the attractive but untalented drama kid in high school who only got the giggles b/c everyone wanted to bed them.

Take those four out and give me any four of the following :
Paula Poundstone (talk about off-the-cuff, this woman knows how to work a crowd)
Margaret Cho
Ellen DeGeneres
Kathy Griffin
Lisa Lampanelli
..and there's more, but I'm having brain troubles this morning.
posted by revmitcz at 4:45 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Kathleen Madigan is as funny as any man. Lewis Black dated her. 'Nuff said.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:13 PM on March 7, 2008


A lot of people are calling me out on my quote:

"You know why? Because she's not a "female" comedian. She doesn't rely on the crutch of her gender to be funny."

as if I assume all male comedians are not hacks as well. Let me be clear - 99% of comedians flat out suck. I'll bet a higher percentage of male comedians suffer from the "male comedian" syndrome because most comedians stick to what they know - themselves. Truly great comedians explore the areas they are not so sure about and that's when they approach greatness. Until they climb out onto that limb on stage they don't even approach my radar.
posted by any major dude at 5:43 PM on March 7, 2008


Man, it feels like all sexism derails lead directly from my posts sometimes.

I was working all day so I didn't catch hellslinger's mention of feminists potentially getting upset over "the "derogatory nature of the post's title" or whatever bullshit he was pulling out of his butt. HERE'S where the post's title came from: the last link. Which, if clicked, clearly features a headline which calls the twelve women "Chicks with Shticks." Which I thought was beyond stupid, so in the headline I put that into quotes followed by "REALLY?" as my personal response. As in: "Vanity Fair, is that REALLY the best headline you could come up with for an article about funny women who you are saying have mastered a male-dominated industry? You really think that headline's making things better? REALLY?"

I was making a joke about it... which is why the asterisk and footnote were added. Because in my mind, that headline was obviously written by a man and missed what should've been the article's point big time.

And along with everyone else, I also request that the word "cunt" not be excused away as an appropriate description for ANY female you have a personal dislike for, not under any circumstances. No matter how skanky or distasteful she may be to your finely honed sensibilities. Because I can guarantee you that rather than making people see that woman in a particularly bad light, with your unnecessarily sexist word choice the focus instead ricochets back and just makes you look like a ginormous freakin' tool to the thousands of people who are reading your comment. And then nobody cares what you think of her because they immediately hold more respect for her than for you. Whaaaa laaaaaaaaaaa!

Unless that's what you're going for. In which case, carry on.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:59 PM on March 7, 2008


I liked Paula Poundstone until I saw her in concert in the early 90s btw. She spent much of her show laying on top of a piano talking about killing herself. I felt like she owed me money for her therapy more than anything.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:00 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anyone else see "Marlo Stanfield" when you read "Maria Bamford" in print? Oh, just me? Okay.
posted by dhammond at 6:38 PM on March 7, 2008


I saw an hour-long HBO special with Joan Rivers recently and I could not believe how hilarious she was. I've always avoided her because of her public persona but her standup is amazing. She even jokes about the lame Red-Carpet shit she does for money.

Another in the series was with Paula Poundstone, and although it had its weak spots, her jokes about being a million dollars in debt being "kinda fun" because no one's under any pretense that it's ever getting paid back were good. She mines a lot of the dark shit she went through in the last few years (alcoholism, rehab, bankruptcy) to excellent effect. That one is also highly recommended.
posted by loiseau at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2008


^^ (Sorry, she said it "kinda feels good".)
posted by loiseau at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2008


Sykes and Lampanelli. The rest...bleh.
posted by HTuttle at 7:28 PM on March 7, 2008


Damn that woman in all the YouTube videos is an annoying sexist idiot.

Gee, comediennes temper their humor a bit when they're flirting instead of performing for an audience?

OMG!!! THE WORLD IS STILL TEH SEXIST!!!!!
posted by HTuttle at 7:55 PM on March 7, 2008


Jody; PRB:

I guess that "shocking, transgressive" isn't really specific enough. I mean, I like jokes that involve shockingly inappropriate (frequently violent or sexual) elements. "The Aristocrats" is a good example; if I remember correctly, Sarah Silverman tells a story that is barely a joke-- it's just a horrible, horrible story, and the only joke is that it even is a joke. (I laughed though.)

Now, Silverman gets a bit of a pass from many people, because, as Jody said, context is extremely important.

Let's pretend I tell a really awful joke involving, say, pedophilia, and one person laughs, and another person says, "That's not funny. Why would you even think that's funny? That's horrible." Well, I would predict that the person laughing is male, and the person that's offended is female. I can't really tell if that's just stereotyping-- I haven't seen any good research on the subject. What do you think?

But then, if there actually are these gender related differences, is it that men laugh at stuff that's more transgressive than women laugh at, and thus laugh at more jokes? Is there just a difference in tolerance of transgression, and so no difference in total jokes-found-funny? Is there some other dimension of transgression, that women are more likely than men to find funny? Is stand-up comedy generally a male pleasure, like, say, the aforementioned tools and football? Are sitcoms the unfairly under-appreciated quilting to improv's painting?

Or something else?
posted by nathan v at 11:41 PM on March 7, 2008


nathan v:

SOMETHING ELSE. YES.

Man, it's too fucking bad that funny girls like me get too drunk to smack down preposterous and poorly thought tripe like that. But trust me, if it's true that girls on a whole are not down for transgressive humor as much as dudes are, it is not inherent difference, but a culturally created defense against jibes of "teh funnay" which have so long been actually functioning as disparaging or threatening tools of disempowerment ("to the moon, alice" does not make me laugh, and neither does Dane Cook's women are whiny spiel).

*high fives lynnster, just cuz*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 AM on March 8, 2008


neither does Dane Cook's women are whiny spiel

Dane Cook does not make anyone laugh. He uses high-powered, specially tuned ultrasonics to manipulate people with a certain brain chemistry to spasm and emit laughter-like sounds.
posted by Snyder at 4:03 AM on March 8, 2008


Aren't women underrepresented at the top of almost all professions? Comedy is a profession.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:37 AM on March 8, 2008


Nobody's reading, nobody's reading, nobody's reading....

I'm still gonna make a point that nobody's made.

Men speak for everyone. They are the universal stand-in for human beings. They are the default. It's the same as "girls will read books with a boy protagonist or a girl protagonist, but boys will only read books with a boy protagonist". A boy, or a man, can do or say anything and have it taken at face value. The moment a woman speaks, she is defined as "female", rather than "anyone", and is therefore instantly judged eight hundred ways to Sunday.

If a woman delivered George Carlin's routines (and believe me, I know lots of women who are as funny as he is [was?]), she'd never have had his career, solely because we don't let women represent everyone. They can only represent women.

Simone de Beauvoir summed it up better than I could: "Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female - whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male."
posted by tzikeh at 7:29 AM on March 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


And, as if anyone were still reading, this xkcd continues to make my point for me.
posted by tzikeh at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2008


Still reading, tzikeh.
And it's a very good point (though I speak only for myself!)

Joking aside (hoho! - and that's not aimed at you remotely tzikeh! Your point was a good one),
...a quiet congrats to everyone who wrenched this one away from the abyss.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:44 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one's yet mentioned Wendy Liebman - a hilarious stand-up comic with a unique way of delivering her routine.
posted by New Frontier at 6:15 PM on March 8, 2008


Couple things based on my experience in standup --
-- whoever said women don't start out as often at the open-mic entry level: exactly
-- one theory is, reluctant to go to the next career stage, on the road for 2 years as a road feature sleeping in the back of your station wagon & doing one-nighters in Spearfish, South Dakota. For whatever reason -- safety, more social, more intelligent
-- c-word is rare in standup, and rarely funny. Fuck fuck fuck all night but no c-word
-- Is the market for stand-up primarily male? Not live, more than half women
-- in my experience, men like women comics, other women are more judgmental, esp. if the comic is blue or agressive
posted by msalt at 1:25 AM on March 9, 2008


I saw an hour-long HBO special with Joan Rivers recently and I could not believe how hilarious she was. I've always avoided her because of her public persona but her standup is amazing. She even jokes about the lame Red-Carpet shit she does for money.

I heard that back in the day, Joan was assumed to be Johnny Carson's heir apparent, but they had a falling out and Jay Leno stepped into the role.
posted by nooneyouknow at 4:41 PM on March 9, 2008


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