There’s been a lot of heat about women in comedy lately, and it’s high time everyone calm the fuck down and take a life time out to think about what’s actually going on.
Adam Carolla Says Women Aren’t Funny
I don’t think Margaret Cho is all that funny. It’s not because she’s a woman that I don’t like her. I don’t care for her style or her jokes, but I acknowledge that others do. My distaste for her comedy doesn’t automatically make all women unfunny. On that same hand, I also don’t like Vince Vaughn, Dane Cook, Steve Byrne, Jeff Dunham, Adam Sandler, and Russell Brand–not because they have penises. I don’t like them because, to me, they’re just not funny.
The problem with saying “women aren’t funny” is that if a man isn’t funny, he’s just not funny. It’s not because he has a dick, or a chest blissfully tit-free. When a woman isn’t funny, she isn’t funny because of her lady sensibilities. When you’re a good comedian, you’re really good and everyone ignores your gender. When you’re an unfunny woman, you’re a dumb cunt and because of you no women are funny ever.
I once hit the front page of Fark.com with Oh Good, You Saved Your Bullshit, and got a fair number of replies. I noticed a pattern in the comments: somewhere around 80% of the good ones never stated a gender. 15% straight up thought I was a dude. 5% said, “that’s a funny lady,” or something along those lines. Those who found me not funny were the first to point out I was a woman. The issue is not that they didn’t think I was funny. Not everyone is going to find me funny. Some people are turned away by the language I use or by the jokes I make. Some people just plain don’t like me, and that’s fine. Comedy is subjective.
What bothers me is the idea that if some people don’t think I’m funny, the first thing they will do is attack my gender.
“Women only talk like that to sound like a man.”
“Women only joke about boyfriends and periods.”
“Women only get laughs because they have boobs and men want to fuck them.”
Kevin Hart can tell period joke that is hilarious, but if I were to tell it, it automatically becomes prohibited “bitch comedy.” That’s bullshit. Gender doesn’t matter. Who gives a shit if I’m a woman or not–if I make you laugh, I make you laugh.
I was once told, “Well, you’re not as funny as Louis CK, so women aren’t funny.” Fuck, of course I’m not as funny as Louis CK. I’m also not as funny as Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, Lucille Ball, Kristen Wiig, Nasim Pedrad, Stephnie Weir, Laura Kightlinger, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and so many other female comedians. Judge comedy on the comedy itself, not on the person delivering.
Look, it’s not fair at all that women are judged on their comedy like this, but that’s the case right now. If you’re a woman in comedy, you have to be good enough for you and trust that others will find you funny. The culture isn’t going to automatically change because you bitch and because it’s unfair. You have to work a little harder. You have to be a little better. You can’t change your gig to make misogynists laugh–good men will find you funny, assholes will be assholes. Fuck ‘em. Be good anyways.
The Heckler and The Tosh
Hecklers deserve 100% of the bullshit they get because FUCK HECKLERS. If comedy is participatory, the performers will let you know. They will call you out, they will make it clear. Other than that, SHUT THE MOTHERFUCK UP. You’re ruining everyone’s day when you heckle.
What made this particular heckler so different is the fact that when she was called out for saying Rape Jokes aren’t funny (most aren’t–very, very few are.) Tosh responded, with not a rape joke, but a call for this woman to be gang raped in a joking manner. That’s not a rape joke, that’s not a rape comment–that’s a half-assed call for rape.
To those who say she deserved it, that it was called for, let me give you this: what if Tosh began a set by talking about a guy getting the shit kicked out of him, and some man in the audience yells, “fight jokes are never funny.” Tosh responds, “wouldn’t it be funny if this guy got the shit kicked out of him by like 5 guys, right now? Like right now?”
It’s innocuous, right? “Oh man, that guy deserves to get the shit kicked out of him because he heckled. Hi-larious”
But then, what if he did get his ass kicked? What if 5 guys beat this man into an unrecognizable pulp right in front of everyone? Is that funny? No, it’s fucking horrific and uncalled for and it’s squarely in Tosh’s hands at that point. Half-assedly calling for a heckler to be raped or beaten or murdered is not okay. Tosh fucked right the hell up. As a coach and successful comedian said this week to me, you have to own what you say and be prepared for what that might cause. Sometimes you say stupid shit onstage because you’re not thinking and it rolls off your tongue and you immediately wish you hadn’t said it. Sometimes that ruins careers. All of the time, we have room to learn from their mistakes.
When things get too tense in a room, the quickest way to diffusion is to tell a joke. Comedy, in that same turn, points out the absurdities of racism, sexism, rape culture, dick culture, war, disease, hate, and every other negative thing about our world. That means talking about scary, potentially offensive things in order to bring them into focus. Comedy has a strange power over people–Jon Stewart is a great example of the good comedy can do from making possibly offensive jokes to get a point across. Tosh’s heckler is a bad example.
Comedians are meant to find the perceived line and cross it. Your offensive line is different than mine, and because of that, not every joke can be handled the same way. Not every comic is the same, not every crowd get the same show, not every heckler is the same. You can’t demand that no one tell any potentially offensive joke ever again because that’s absurd and defeats the entire point of comedy.
Instead of rearing up because you hear a joke that offends you, I want you to think about why it offends you. Is it because you hold those same sentiments and someone called you on it? Is it because it was told poorly and was perhaps unintentionally offensive? Maybe it was just because it was sexist or racist as fuck and it’s a shitty joke to tell (and probably said for cheap shock value). Figure out what you didn’t like, why, and then start talking.
We’re all on this planet together. Sometimes, you’re going to hear, see, do, and experience things you don’t like. We are only going to learn and grow through a dialogue, and not by screaming at a problem demanding that it never ever happen again ever. Misogynists especially will not listen even a little bit when you scream–they’ll work harder to silence you. You have to do your own research, form your own opinion, and be a better example.
It’s the hard truth to learn that everyone sucks–everyone on this planet has something shitty about them. Mother Theresa even sucked a little bit. She probably had a wicked farting obsession and farted on as many people as she could. You suck, your mother sucks, Tosh sucks, I suck. We can all suck less if we all calm the fuck down and talk.
I’ve been fortunate to not be hit by too much sexism in my comedy career. I know others have–any stories? What do you think about these two events?– Favorite Comment From The Last Post: From Johi: “I still can’t get over that damned Ron expecting his bitch to just buy up that Ranch dressing like that.”