Female Comedians Can Take Center Stage

Johanna Holm, Editorial Contributor

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Anna Baldus

Growing up as a girl who loved to be laughed at, I started to notice a strange occurrence. Every time I found myself laughing at a comedian in a movie or on SNL, it was always a boy.  Women are put down and ignored in the comedy industry, and as the funniest person I know, I say it’s time for a change. 

Funny female representation is severely lacking, and when women do try to pursue a comedic career they face two major issues: one, they simply aren’t seen as funny in society, and two, they are sexualized by men throughout the industry. First is the issue that society expects us to look attractive, and there is nothing less attractive to the patriarchy than a woman who won’t be subdued. It takes courage, confidence, and so much more for women to be able to feel like they can be funny, while men are expected to be cracking jokes left and right. In addition, women in comedy often face sexual harassment as they try to do their jobs. Writer and stand up comedian Julia Reiss explains in a 2015 article, “Unwarranted advances are an all-too-common symptom of sexism within the comedy community, and male comics are some of the worst offenders.” Girls are funny. I’m living proof of that. But struggles within the industry are causing negative repercussions around the globe.

The lack of women in comedy affects not only women themselves, but everyone who is deprived of the hilarity of girls. Girls everywhere grow up lacking confidence because they aren’t shown how funny they can be. This isn’t just hurting their self-esteem, it’s also robbing women of leadership positions. Humor conveys intelligence, so when women are seen as less funny than men, they are also seen as less smart. A 2017 Washington Post article states, “T Bradford Bitterly’s research found that people who effectively used humor were more likely to be elected to leadership positions.” It’s reasons like this why women make up only 25% of America’s elected officials, 17% of all directors in the movie business, and 6% of CEO’s. Plus, comedy in general is of a lower quality because women aren’t fully included. I’m not saying girls are necessarily funnier than men, but with a greater variety of gender in comedy, everyone can laugh just a little bit more. 

There isn’t one simple answer to changing how women are viewed in the comedy industry, but there is always something we can do. Anyone can help make a change by building up the funny women in their lives. Of course we want more women to feel safe in the comedy industry, but solving sexual harassment overnight isn’t exactly an option. But to make more space for women in comedy, we need to create an environment that women will actually want to be a part of. We can support and learn from organizations like Gold Comedy, a start-up whose sole aim is to empower women in the industry. Or the site WHOHAHA, which connects female comics with producers. There’s also a non-profit called FunnyGirl which focuses on teaching improv as a pathway to leadership. We’ve got passionate people running these organizations. We just need to lend them our support. Giving women a place they feel welcome will empower these funny ladies to be the best that they can be. 

So ladies, let’s show the world that we can make them laugh until they cry, just as much as a man can.