How To Make Comedy Equal (AND BETTER AND MORE INTERESTING)

How To Represent For Women In Comedy

(This is not an edict. This is a list of ideas that are up for consideration.)

Easy: Don’t judge friends and peers for their clothing, appearance, weight, or age. Don’t think they don’t deserve relationships, opportunities, or success because of how they look. If you hear other people criticizing your women friends for their appearance, defend them.

Harder: Don’t judge women you DISLIKE for their clothing, appearance, weight, or age. Don’t do it to strangers. Don’t do it to celebrities. If you hear other people criticizing women for their appearance, remind them that this is a tool of the patriarchy. Remember that the joke behind calling someone a Cougar or a MILF is the sheer absurdity that anyone over thirty could be sexually attractive to anyone when they’re all worn out and shit, and by extension that our looks are what we are worth.

Hardest: Don’t judge yourself for your appearance, weight, or age. Don’t think that you don’t deserve anything because of how you look. Don’t allow yourself to be treated badly. When you truly reach this level, you’ll see how we’ve all been getting less than we deserve.

Vote for Women

Easy: When you’re out at comedy shows, write down the names of women you find funny. Tell them that they are. Tell other people.

Harder: Book those women on your shows. (Still pretty easy!)

Hardest: Support shows with women, queer, trans, or other minority comics on the bill. Let the bookers know you appreciate the way they book their shows. If diverse shows put butts in seats, they will continue.

If woman-headlined shows put butts in seats, they will continue.

You don’t even need whole people at the show. Just butts.

Talk About Booking Women

Easy: When you’re booked on a comedy show and you see that you’re the only woman booked, ask the booker why. Offer to share with them your list of amazing women you’ve started writing down the names of from the last tip.

Harder: When you’re on a comedy festival with fewer than 20% women, ask why? Do they need your help promoting to women to submit next year?

Hardest: When you get booked on a TV show, and you’re on set and you see less than 20% women on the crew or staff, ask why? When you’re hired to write on a TV show and you notice you’re the only woman writer, ask why?

Don’t let men talk shit on other women. Especially if you’re new, you’ll hear men talk about women fucking their way onto shows, fucking their way into festivals. Reject this. Don’t let men tell you how other women are crazy. Don’t let them tell you that you’re the only chill one. They’re trying to pit us against each other so we continue to be divided and weak. Thanks doods!

So you can see that feminism is more than just really, really liking Beyoncé, but it’s not impossible. We can all represent for each other every day. And also Beyoncé.

The Ultimate CK Solution

In the aftermath of the NYT article on Louis CK using his position to sexually abuse women, everyone wanted to know he could come back to comedy. Of course, now we know that he just started working smaller, more right-wing clubs- ignoring this elegant proposal.

INT: A COMEDY CLUB LOBBY-NIGHT

A ticket taker sits in a glass box. Middle-aged white male comedian LOUIS enters.

LOUIS

Hi, I’m, uh. Can you call..

She wordlessly presses a button and gives him a tightlipped smile. After a moment, another middle aged white man (BERT) enters, with a twentysomething man (ADAM).

BERT

Louis! My main man! My big guy!

He and Louis hug.

LOUIS

Thank you so much, man. I really appreciate you sticking by me through this Me Too stuff. It’s been hell getting cancelled.

BERT

Well, we go back, man! Of course I want you back! Listen, I hope you got to look at the stuff I sent- it’s just for insurance purposes.

LOUIS

Believe me, I get it. Happy to sign off on whatever you need. I don’t want any problems.

BERT

That’s great to hear. This here is Adam, he’s gonna be your, we can call him a valet, and he’s gonna take care of you.

LOUIS

Nice to meet you, man.

LOUIS offers Adam his hand. Adam shakes it once, then releases it.

BERT

You guys are gonna get along great! And we’re gonna have a great weekend. Listen, tickets are a little slow tonight, but they’ll pick up tomorrow when word gets out you’re in town.

LOUIS

Sounds great, man, thanks again!

BERT

Now, Adam, don’t let this guy outta your sight! He’s our special guy!

Bert backs out of the room, waving. A moment passes.

ADAM

Okay, man. Let’s get started.

Adam produces a burlap sack, a pair of plastic bags, and some rope. He puts the sack over Louis’s head and bags his hands, securing each with rope.

ADAM (con’t.)

Let’s get you to the green room.

INT: COMEDY CLUB GREEN ROOM-NIGHT

Adam leads Louis to sit on a couch and sits next to him.

ADAM

So, I don’t know how much of that thing you read, but basically I’m not supposed to let you leave my side until you’re onstage. I will get you any food and drink you need. No alcohol, of course.

LOUIS

No problem. I just want to make it easy on everyone. I wanna have great shows and prove to everyone that I can still do this.

ADAM

Sure thing. Let me know what I can order for you. They’ll bring it here.

LOUIS

I’m good for now. How would I even eat in this thing?

ADAM

What I thought we’d do is that anything you order, we can either untie the collar and you can eat under the bag, or if you’d rather, we can liquefy it and you can eat it right through the bag.

LOUIS

Ugh. Alright.

ADAM

The main thing is that you don’t make eye contact with any women, and you’re not alone with a woman at any time on the premises.

LOUIS

I understand. So, when you take me onstage, you’ll take the bag and stuff off?

ADAM

That stuff…doesn’t come off.

INT: ONSTAGE-LATER

Louis is onstage, holding a microphone stand through his bagged hands. The audience sits silently. The women look angry.

LOUIS

Ha, ha…I can’t tell if you guys are there or not.

WOMAN HECKLER

Oh, we’re here!

ANOTHER WOMAN HECKLER

Why don’t you show us your dick now, if it’s so great?

AUDIENCE LAUGHS

END

I Survived Iliza’s Special

I Watched Iliza’s Special!

Before this week, if anyone ever asked me what I thought about a woman comic whose jokes I don’t personally care for, I would always say, she’s making her space in this business and I respect her for that. This is a hard gig. Then Iliza Schlesinger let us know in an interview for Deadline that lots of us are bad for talking about sex or sexuality, and that we should be SMART like her.

“I could walk into The Improv, close my eyes, and I can’t tell one girl’s act apart from another,” she said. “That’s not saying that 30-something white guys don’t all sound the same sometimes, but I’m banging my head against the wall because women want to be treated as equals, and we want feminism to be a thing, but it’s really difficult when every woman makes the same point about her vagina, over and over. I think I’m the only woman out there that has a joke about World War II in my set.”

Since I’m a woman comic who plays the Improv, this annoyed me.

So I did a selfless thing.

I watched Iliza’s newest special, Confirmed Kills.
I wanted to see how a truly original comedy mind works.

SPOILER ALERT-it’s not even a WWII joke, it’s about a baby boomer coming home from the war to fuck and be racist. THANKS, STEPHEN HAWKING.

Here are my notes.

1. Dog walks across stage in a long ballgown. This is the best.
2. Establish that this is Chicago.
3. There is a Party Goblin in the back of your head and it is your Id. This is a more animated rehash of Larry Miller’s Ten Stages of Drinking from the 80’s. Five-six minutes. She uses this D&D voice and then a sorority girl voice. Those are the two. There is a lot of kicking, I guess so she can fit another workout into her day.
4. Instagram joke
5. People like to talk when they’re drunk.
6. She’s the alpha in her group of friends. OBVIOUSLY.
7. Racist joke about being in Chinatown.
8. Tag from Calgon commercial from before she was born
9. Dudes need to pick girls up on time or else we’ll put on body glitter
10. Not trashy, just doing trashy things
11. One of the difficult things about being a woman is everything
12. There’s four minutes a night where a woman feels comfortable in her own skin
13. Talks about lip-liner, refers to self as a Chola
14. Joke about balls
15. Needed to find lip-liner in a big bag
16. Joke about method of finding lip-liner in bag
17. This is essentially women be shoppin’
18. Oh lord this is about the shit in the bottom of your purse
19. I think Erma Bombeck covered this in 1968
20. If you use an open tampon, you’ll die on the Oregon Trail

21. Dumps out bag on dance floor, makes Helen Keller joke
22. Door guy has to be described as good-looking because she said he’s black, so she doesn’t get in trouble with the PC police
23. Door guy leaves her alone because she’s “white girl crazy”
24. She felt vulnerable bent over on the floor in public
25. Gets an applause break by saying “nay” in fake D&D nerd voice
26. Women feel vulnerable because they are not as physically strong as men, if we were strong, we would never have waited for the right to vote, weakness is why women have to be scared of rape
27. Does an extended and very appreciated series of poses to show off her extremely toned body
28. CrossFit is a cult
29. CrossFit exercises are weird.
30. Women are strong in childbirth
31. Act out of delivery, when your child is in danger you can draw on mother’s strength
32. Second reference to single women being afraid of rape
33. That’s why sexual harassment is a big deal: you can wear whatever you want, it doesn’t give the right for someone to harass you- and it’s about the underlying notion that he could rape you if he wanted
34. Hard to be a woman: when men sexually harass you and you find them unattractive. This is a great message. If he’s hot, it’s just flirting. Super funny and brave and smart. It’s OK for men to comment on your body if they’re hot
35. Women and men shop differently
36. Does a bit mocking women who are trying to be creative or find themselves
37. Personal body goals: never thin enough, wants to look like the starved child on the Les Miz flyer, and other weird ana-positive stuff.
38. Women have to be thin to be vulnerable so men will love us
39. Strong women are told to tone it down- wear high heels so you can’t run from your attacker, smoky eyes look like you’ve been choking on a dick
40. Men aren’t allowed to be vulnerable but too bad (Agree)

41. Some women die trying to be thin
42. You have to be the thinnest in your group of friends, pose-off between women. You want to be the kind of thin where your friends are worried for you. “I wear a youth large” Makes a weird joke about R. Crumb comics but thinner, has never seen a woman in an R. Crumb comic
43. It’s only the last 40 years that women of color have made it OK to have an adult body
44. It’s OK to bully and fat shame white women on Facebook (?) Is it?
45. WASP jokes
46. Black women have good self esteem (three women in the audience of a thousand respond)
47. She said “a black”, OK.
48. Iliza’s “Lean In” moment: you have to take respect, not wait for it
49. Iliza shares that whatever your body is like is OK, while she has spent the whole set demonstrating that it’s not, over and fucking over again. But be proud of your body! Even if it’s not as good as hers!
50. Commanding respect through the way that you speak
51. It’s not OK to talk about sex or sexual stuff and it’s not where your power comes from. If we talk about sex, it lets people know it’s OK to sexualize us (see 34)
52. Mermaid shaming
53. Fourth rape joke at 42 minutes in
54. Fifth rape joke and a joke about how the Japanese would eat mermaids
55. Little mermaid was a liar and a hoarder
56. Five minutes talking about how mermaids would have dreadlocks
57. More mermaid shaming #nomermaids
58. Mermaid anal prostitution
59. Jesus Christ, are we still talking about mermaids? This has been ten minutes
60. WW2 joke: what made America great was military men returning home and growing up, making families, not trying to find themselves

61. Pandering pro military statement gets lots of applause
62. Back to talking about white grandparents, baby boomers, rock and roll, Millennials showed up and invented Instagram
63. People are mean to women when they like themselves on Instagram, only fat girls can be on Instagram
64. Talks about how dumb her ex-boyfriend was
65. Men can date dumber and women can’t. Men will date a Popsicle stick in a wig
66. Makes fun of ugly girlfriend who rescues animals and has a great personality
67. “You want to be a feminist, but we have to get attention”
68. I’ve dated ugly guys who were funny and smart. YOU’RE A HERO ILIZA!
69. Women are chastised for talking a lot, this comes from caveman hunter and gatherer times and sharing of information
70. She will be a feminist and clarify: it means you want to be treated fairly and a lot of women don’t like to say that they’re feminists because it’s not attractive
71. Portrait of an unattractive woman feminist
72. Wage gap: gotta close it-but let’s start with porn, where a woman kicks in a door and demands oral sex. Sure
73. (She says that’s so gross, OMG that’s awful, that’s so off brand)
74. Have you ever been having sex with your boyfriend and gotten excited because it’s almost done and you can go to the farmer’s market?
75. Don’t talk to your boyfriend after sex
76. Goblin impression callback
77. What women think about during sex (lavender, food, your mom)
78. If you’re not happy, don’t stay in a relationship out of fear of being alone
79. We like to label single women negatively and we have to be kinder to women
80. #fuckbitchesgetmoney (I don’t know what this means)
81. Women spend so much time hating themselves and trying to meet someone and men can relax because they don’t have eggs
82. Shark Tank: I want a live episode of Shark Tank. (Giant act out closer)

OK, all in all- I respect her ability to churn twenty minutes of animated stand up out of a premise I have used as a tag.

She refers to herself as a feminist many times while mocking unattractive women, fat women, and letting women know it’s not OK to be sexual. (She keeps saying this word, feminism. I don’t think it means what she thinks it means.)

However, in this special, it’s true that she only mentions a vagina a couple of times.

The Incredible Jackie and Laurie Show!

I am a huge fan of Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin and of their incredible insider/outsider comedy podcast. I am beyond tickled to be this week’s featured comic and demand to be referred to as “Jackie and Laurie Show Comic of the Week Virginia Jones” henceforth.  Also, listen to their show! NOW!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-jackie-and-laurie-show/id1071731361?mt=2

My Funny Valentines: Funny Women and Nonbinary Comedians

Lisa Best has a list of funny women on her website as a counter to the hack assertion that women aren’t funny.

This is a great idea.  I’ve stolen it.

Below is my list of the most hilarious women and nonbinary comedians in the world.   Check them out, starting with the very funny woman Lisa Best.

LISA BEST

ARLO WEIERHAUSER

BONNIE MCFARLANE

APARNA NANCHERLA

JACKIE KASHIAN

MARIA BAMFORD

JACKIE FABULOUS

MARY MACK

NATASHA LEGGERO

BRANDIE POSEY

PAIGE WELDON

AMY SCHUMER

TIFF STEVENSON

KATHLEEN MADIGAN

RHEA BUTCHER

JANINE BRITO

LARA BEITZ

PAULA POUNDSTONE

CAMERON ESPOSITO

KATE BERLANT

BETH STELLING

RITA RUDNER

ELIZA SKINNER

LEAH KAYAJANIAN

ERIN FOLEY

MORGAN MURPHY

RACHEL FEINSTEIN

EMILY HELLER

REBECCA CORRY

LISA LAMPANELLI

MARINA FRANKLIN

WENDI STARLING

AMBER TOZER

KRISTEN SCHAAL

FORTUNE FEIMSTER

CHELSEA HANDLER

AISHA TYLER

JANEANE GAROFOLO

HANNAH GADSBY

ALI WONG

BRETT BUTLER

LAURIE KILMARTIN

JEN KIRKMAN

NICOLE BYER

EMILY MAYA MILLS

KAREN KILGARIFF

SHARON HOUSTON

ANDY ERIKSON

LAURA KIGHTLINGER

MARGARET CHO

CARMEN MORALES

WANDA SYKES

CHASE BERNSTEIN

GINA YASHERE

MO WELCH

SARAH SILVERMAN

TIG NOTARO

TAMMY PESCATELLI

KIRA SOLTANOVICH

DEBRA DIGIOVANNI

CAITLIN GILL

CANDY LAWRENCE

BARBARA HOLM

SUSANNA LEE

STACEY HALLAL

LOGAN GUNTZELMAN

DANIELLE PEREZ

MARCIA BELSKY

MADISON SHEPARD

LAURA HOUSE

DANA EAGLE

ADRIENNE AIRHART

ERIN LAMPART

AMY MILLER

JOANN SCHINDERLE

SAM JAY

AMBER PRESTON

MICHELLE BILOON

EMMA WILLMAN

OLIVIA HAIDAR

MAGGIE MAYE

RENEE GAUTHIER

IRENE TU

MARLENA RODRIGUEZ

MEGAN KOESTER

KYLE MIZONO

SUSAN JONES

KLEE WIGGINS

DINA NINA MARTINEZ

ALLISON MICK

KATE WILLETT

CANDICE THOMPSON

SARA SCHAEFER

CHRISTINA WALKINSHAW

CLAIRE BROSSEAU

VALERIE TOSI

MARCELLA ARGUELLO

LEAH DUBIE

CAT RHINEHART

MARIA SHEHATA

KRISTEN STUDARD

JENNY ZIGRINO

JULIA PRESCOTT

LYDIA POPOVICH

BARBARA GRAY

ERIN LENNOX

LIZZY COOPERMAN

HEATHER TURMAN

CALISE HAWKINS

PHOEBE ROBINSON

LAURA CRAWFORD

JENA FRIEDMAN

KAT YEARY

JESSICA MICHELLE SINGLETON

DANIELLE RADFORD

HEATHER THOMSON

EVER MAINARD

ALISON STEVENSON

ANNA SEREGINA

TESS BARKER

NAOMI EKPERIGIN

KELLY ANNEKEN

SAMANTHA GILWEIT

KATHLEEN MCGEE

NATASHA MUSE

LARA BEITZ

From Love.Tv: The Unicorn Charmer

Hi, my name is Virginia Jones and I’m a comedian and writer. I made a girlfriend six years ago who was beautiful and smart and kind and fun to be with, and at one point she told me she was a still a virgin in her late 20s, and I was pretty surprised. In the years since we met, she has transitioned into non-virginity, and she agreed to sit down and talk with me about it. Historically, virginity has been so important in religion, in vampire lore, and in marriage, but now it doesn’t seem as significant, and I wondered what her thoughts were on the topic. In this interview, I’m calling myself by my initials, VJ, and I’m calling her Unicorn Charmer, because in Medieval times it was said that a unicorn would only lay his head in a virgin’s lap.

 

VJ: At what age did you lose your virginity?
UC: I was 30. When did you lose yours?
VJ: I was 15, which at the time I felt was ancient and now I am totally grossed out by. When I see 15 year olds, I think, well, these are children.
UC: Oh myyyy.
VJ: How many partners have you had since then?
UC: I’ve had five sex partners — spread out over the past five years. Two long-term boyfriends, three shorter term. You?
VJ: Some multiple of that. Have you ever had a one night stand?
UC: I tried to have one in Europe with a sexy European man, but he kept in touch and it became an affair that kept going for a while — so I still haven’t successfully had one. I guess I maybe had one with someone I had been in love with forever — but that feels more like a continuation of our friendship. Once I had sex for the first time, he was someone I wanted to circle back and have sex with.
VJ: What was the original motivation for keeping your virginity, and did that change?
UC: I was raised in a very conservative Baptist household and was definitely taught that sex was for married people, and lots of scary stuff about STDs. When a boy first kissed me, I was quite sure I had AIDS. I was engaged for three years starting at 19, and when that engagement ended, I decided, well, I don’t have to be married, but I’d like to have sex with someone who loves me and who I love back. So, that only took… another seven years.
VJ: That’s a minute.
UC: It was. It wasn’t all the guys’ fault. I’m sometimes… fickle.
VJ: Have you ever lost partners or relationships because you didn’t want to have coitus?
UC: None of them ever admitted it, but looking back, I think, yeah. I think it’s not something you want to say is the reason.
VJ: It’s not a good look. Do you regret anything about waiting?
UC: I don’t regret my age or the timing when I lost my virginity — but I would have liked my first to be a different person?
VJ: Why is that?
UC: I thought he loved me and that he was the right partner, but it turned out that he wasn’t faithful and didn’t care for me the way I thought he did. Later, I felt like I was a conquest. It seemed like the right person at the time, but looking back, could have been better
VJ: I think most of us feel that way.
UC: Ha! But I don’t regret waiting, either. All I missed over the years was sex with people who weren’t in love with me, which I feel is missable.
VJ: What are some positive responses people have had to your sex history? UC: Women have been 100 percent positive, girlfriends all think it’s great. Lots of men, friends and ex-boyfriends have been respectful of my decision. One man I did sleep with said it made him feel extra special. Which he is! “I had built a lot of my self-image on being a virgin, on being that girl”
VJ: What is something that you changed your mind about after having sex?
UC: Strangely, I have changed my feelings about oral sex, which for years was my main sexual activity — now it seems VERY intimate and kind of more precious than sex — like, I can have intercourse with someone way before oral sex. I have to trust them more.
VJ: I’ve heard that’s the feeling a lot of millennials have, that sex with a condom you can have with anyone, but oral sex is more intimate. It’s the opposite of when I was growing up. What were you surprised about after the first time you had sex?
UC: I thought it would be really bloody and painful, and it wasn’t. I was surprised that it wasn’t actually that big a deal — I wasn’t a different person, I wasn’t transformed in one way or another — it was strange, I had built a lot of my self-image on being a virgin, on being that girl, and I had to figure out who I was again!
VJ: Ha! Right, part of our worth as a woman is your sexual purity — It gives you the idea that you will be a different person once you have sex, but you’re not. Like a button is pressed and POOF you are a different being.
UC: I guess so! But I just had to train myself out of thinking of myself in relation to what I hadn’t done, and think about myself in the context of what I have.
VJ: Have you had any negative feedback on staying a virgin for longer?
UC: Unfortunately, yeah- it usually gets thrown in my face by partners or men when they’re angry with me or want to hurt me? Stuff about I’m frigid or not normal or can’t come during sex, which I can — Lots of men want to tell me that because I waited, I’m gonna have hang-ups or other issues, that I’ll never be normal in bed.
VJ: That’s cruddy.
UC: It is. One guy in particular has hit that one same note over and over, that I’m not normal, normal people just hook up a lot and don’t put a lot of importance on sex, but you know, I know those people, and they don’t seem that happy to me.
VJ: Maybe not.
UC: And I know that I’m worth more than that.
VJ: Well, I think everyone is worth more, both women and men. But we believe what people tell us, which is that the only thing available to us is hookup sex, so we’d better take it, or get nothing. (laughs)
UC: Ha! Right. “I was relieved that a penis didn’t feel like a giant finger inside me.”
VJ: What were you relieved about when you lost your virginity?
UC: I was honestly glad not to worry about it anymore. Also…Oh, god…
VJ: What?
UC: I was relieved that a penis didn’t feel like a giant finger inside me.
VJ: Haaaaa!
UC: Well, I wasn’t sure.
VJ: Well, how could you be? Thank you for sharing your sex history with me, babe. The Unicorn Charmer has just ended a serious relationship and is currently out meeting new dates and potential partners in her new city, and is having fun, mostly!

There’s A Rapist At Work: The Problem With Calling For Due Process

Aaron Glaser in the New York Post Comedy Rapist

What we have learned from the Aaron Glaser case is that if a woman doesn’t report a rape to the police, or if she does but it doesn’t go to trial, we’re not allowed to talk about it in public and no repercussions, no matter how minor, are appropriate. If the law doesn’t hand down the appropriate punishment, if there is insufficient evidence or a rape kit is lost or a thousand possible things, her experience isn’t valid and she can’t talk about it, because it was never proved in a court of law. That’s some witch trial shit.  All due process means is that he can’t be jailed before trial.  It doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed or used as a reason not to book him, not to employ him as a teacher.

Other dudes say “He’s a good dude”, which means, “He’s never mentioned being a serial rapist.”

The dude might say “I’m not a rapist”, because he thinks maybe I raped somebody 3-4 times or whatever, that’s not what I AM, I baked a cake once, I’m not a BAKER.

If a woman says, “I don’t wish to do comedy around my rapist”, her option is to stay home.

If a woman says, “I don’t wish to file charges and go public about being raped, which will make me feel vulnerable and strange and it will make people treat me differently”,  her option is to shut up.

What do we do, as women comics? We talk about it amongst ourselves, in secret groups, we get called gossips and shit-stirrers, we maintain secret lists of people we’ve heard are rapists or sexual predators because that makes us feel safe.

That also means, if a woman is attacked who didn’t remember a name from the list or isn’t a member of a secret group, it’s back to being her fault.

This week a friend asked me about a comic I know, who I know to be someone who sexually assaults unconscious women. The word is that he has raped a comic in my old town when she was drunk.

Is the comic going to report it? No. She feels guilty. She feels ashamed. She has been violated. She wants to comfort herself and put it away.

So, we can’t do anything to protect each other or ourselves, all we can do is repeat, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that happened. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I believe you. I’m sorry.

My own policy on rape and sexual assault is: I always believe the victim, because 1. false reports are rare and 2. society is predisposed not to believe the victim.

My policy has lost me friends, because I didn’t “back up” an accused assaulter and other men in our circle think I’m not a good pal, because he’s a good dude.

And that’s a thing I’ll have to live with.