Are the Majority of Famous Women Comedians Actually Funny?
This post is one of the many I started writing about a year ago, but never managed to finish till today. I also predict that it will get more than a few comments- especially from thin-skinned SJWs. But then again, I am not known for being especially concerned about what others think of my professed beliefs. As many of you have seen or heard- a number of women comedians have suddenly become famous and rich in the last 2-4 years.
Now, this is not exactly a new trend as women comedians have been steadily gaining prominence in popular culture over the last two decades. Just to be clear- I am NOT claiming that women comedians are intrinsically inferior to their male counterparts. Nor am I claiming that any field of human endeavor, including comedy, is a meritocracy. This post is therefore about whether the majority of contemporary famous female comedians in the anglosphere are actually funny- as opposed to whether women can ever be funny. Let me also say that I do not believe that most famous male comedians are actually funny- but that is another entirely different issue.
So, why am I focusing on famous and in my opinion mediocre and hacky female comedians as opposed to their male counterparts? Well.. as you will see, the archetypes of famous female comedians and their material says a lot more about the people who promote them and celebrate them than the comics themselves. Let us now talk about the archetypes or categories of contemporary famous female comedians especially those who have come to prominence within the last five years.
Category 1: The ones that are actually funny.
While I might not agree with the material or views or these female comedians, it hard to deny that some women comedians are talented and actually funny. Curiously, they do not have much in common with each other- stylistically or otherwise. Examples include Aisha Tyler, Maria Bamford, Wanda Sykes, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. The ones in this category stand apart from the ones in the other groups because their comedy acts and characters have the ability to be somewhat introspective, less than perfect and relatable aka human.
Category 2: The ones whose acts are mostly about hating men, other women and casual racism.
It is interesting to note that almost every woman comedian in this category is a thin, harsh-faced white woman. Coincidence.. I think not. These women use the fact that they are thin, white and moderately attractive to basically trash men, other women, minorities.. basically everybody other than them. It is often hard to say whether people enjoy their comedy or the controversies surrounding their acts and personalities. Examples include Iliza Shlesinger, Whitney Cummings, Jen Kirkman, Natasha Leggero and Chelsea Handler.
Category 3: The ones whose acts center around their obesity, disability, race or personal tragedy.
A somewhat more diverse category than the previous one, it contains female comedians whose acts are mostly driven by some combination of rage, jealousy, humiliation, casual racism or reaction to racism. The default persona of most performers in this category is a fat loud woman who spends too much time talking their weight or men of other races. Alternatively it is a woman with marginal talent but who has survived some personal tragedy making the audience feel sorry for her. Examples include Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, Lisa Lampanelli and Melissa McCarthy.
Category 4: The ones whose act is to be the girl next door who talks dirty and insults everybody.
Probably the most recent but prominent category containing some of most overexposed comedians. The default persona of comedians in this category is a reasonably OK looking woman whose claim to fame is based on saying “shocking” things and insulting other people and minorities. They differ from those in category 3 by not being obese or ugly. Examples include Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and some from category 2 such as Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler. They are similar to those in Category 2- but are far more focused on conventional success and fame.
Category 5: The ones whose acts are essentially exaggerated quirkiness.
This category includes women whose act is almost exclusively centered around their quirky looks and/or voice. In other words, their act would not be funny if it was done by somebody who did not look or sound quirky. This is basically the female counterpart of the retarded clown-type acts among male comedians. Examples include Kristen Schaal, Jenny Slate, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
Category 6: The ones whose looks make up for the quality of their comedy.
Female comedians in this category are largely known for their good looks. While some exhibit flashes of actual talent, their careers are highly dependent on their looks. In other words, most people would not pay money to see their acts if they looked average. Examples include Nikki Glaser, Anjelah Johnson, Kate McKinnon and ex-lookers such as Chelsea Handler (pre-2003) and Natasha Leggero (pre-2008).
Category 7: The ones whose fame is largely due to who they are dating or related to.
Well.. these are the ones who are incredibly bad at their craft but somehow keep on getting TV gigs and specials. One of the best example in this category is Chelsea Peretti- a “comedian” whose inexplicable success becomes more understandable once you realize that her brother is Jonah Peretti (one of the founders of Buzzfeed) and is currently dating Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame).
What do you think? Comments?