Female Comedians on Standing Up

“Women who behave seldom make history.” – Comedian Judy Gold*


This weekend I watched a documentary on women in comedy on Showtime that reminded me of what many women say about turning 40 — you just don’t care as much what people think any more. You say what you think with more abandon on one hand….and do what you want with more purpose on the other.


Hosted by Joan Rivers, Why We Laugh, Funny Women, features interviews and live performance excerpts with a number of female comedians, highlighting the courage that drives women to persist in a male dominated field and put yourself on the line. They don’t just step up, they stand up.


I related to the theme of confidence and passion in the face of extreme insecurity on the human level at first and then discrimination on a social level (why are there so few female comedians).


When a young girl is funny or begins to do “comedy” do they know it is male dominated field or are they learning a 40:20 lesson early on?  Everyone is insecure. We are all a bit weird the inside. Most of us spend our first 40 years trying to be normal and then our second 40 years just being ourselves.


Comedians are often told from a very young age that they don’t fit — women often because of their looks — and somehow they find a way to embrace it and make that their thing.


Someone on the show observed that popular people are not funny because they don’t say what they think. They are too concerned with fitting in for that. Funny people — as a way of coping or in a grand act of courage — decide to “say the things other people think but don’t say. It takes the rest of us 40 years to get there.


But saying want you think can likely get you ahead faster than waiting to say the right thing or not saying anything at all. You don’t have to be funny to benefit from finding the courage to say what you think. The show was chock full of inspiring and insightful stories. In ending, a few quotes and 80:20 vision from the host:


 “There is not one female comic who was beautiful as a little girl.” – Joan Rivers


“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.”  – Joan Rivers


“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” – Joan Rivers


You’ll find tons of great articles and books from women and men trying to change the ratio online and a new book on the “rise of the female comic.” to check out. Do your part, tell us your favorite female comic who proves that women are funny.

* quote originally from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in an academic journal, 1938)



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