To Be Or Not To Be: The Modern-Day Woman In Comedy
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To Be Or Not To Be: The Modern-Day Woman In Comedy

Gender bias, an ever changing political landscape... women comedians do not have it easy.

To Be Or Not To Be: The Modern-Day Woman In Comedy

The inclusion of women in comedy has made distinct progress in decades past. However, the art of reaching an audience takes grit and an ego that is not fearful of rejection. Within comedic content, there are boundaries, often times being crossed, but for male comedians, it seems at times there can be absolutely none at all. Male comedians have definitely taken similar heat when they are considered too offensive or too raunchy in their sets, but let's face it women have a very narrow line in what they can present to an audience without being automatically criticized. Being a woman comedian is some risky business.

Due to the same gender roles and societal norms we've all heard before, it seems like being a woman comic is defined by one quality: sexuality. Men have been telling sex-based jokes for years, and not once will a member in the audience bat an eye. Having bold comedy with a side of raunchiness is Amy Schumer, famous stand-up comic's, specialty.

She explains in an interview how she feels in response to these double standards by saying "I'm labeled a sex comic. I think it's just because I'm a girl. A guy could get up here and literally pull his [penis] out, and people would be like, 'He's a thinker!' When women joke about similar topics, they are viewed as unladylike and self-deprecating." It all falls back upon this outdated way of thinking of how women should act in a public setting.

Similar to Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham took a lot of heat for appearing nude numerous times in her HBO hit, "Girls." People claimed it was annoying to see this actress in so many nude scenes. Dunham fired back with "the nudity was a realistic expression of life, adding that if the reporter was "not into me" that was his problem." Yet, was Jason Segal criticized for his numerous nude scenes in rom-com "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"? It's just some food for thought.

The point is to these two examples, that as women, we are put under these microscopes to magnify every part of our sexual beings to turn it into something that would seem as unnatural, or unladylike. Being a modern-day woman in comedy takes composure, but also a realization that these double standards are total lunacy.

The issue with this criticism is that it does not only come from a very gender biased perspective, but it also lacks diversity. This common thread of the reviews displaying disgust or offensiveness of women comics tends to stem from white male critics. In response to Schumer's Netflix special, "Verne Gay of Newsday wrote that Schumer simply went too far with the graphic material in her stage show: 'It's too much. What initially shocks then leads to a numbing sensation. An hour of this? No thanks.'"

While another critic spoke on Sarah Silverman saying "If she thinks she is shocking anyone and somehow it is funny she is wrong. I can hear the same tasteless jokes and vulgarity on the subway."

Featured on Schumer's Instagram story, August 13th, 2018

Stepping on to the political landscape, women comedians also have very thin ice to walk on in regards to voicing their views. Looking back at the White House Correspondent's dinner, Michelle Wolf, a comedian, was hired to have a set and sort of "roast" the administration for the annual event. From the beginning of her set, she began by saying "I am here to tell jokes, I have no agenda."

But many felt that she took it too far and made indecent remarks about President Trump, and against other women in the white house. She was honest in her jokes but did not hold her tongue. The media and Trump himself thought otherwise. Hence, white male criticism.


Yet, Michelle Wolf was simply doing her job. She was not trying to push a political agenda. Neither are most other women comedians who tell jokes about the current administration, or the current events that are produced because of it. Unfortunately, it seems once a woman comic voices her opinion once she's automatically labeled and criticized.

Luckily, we have women who are defying these boundaries. Women like Samantha Bee who aren't afraid to voice their politics, Tiffany Haddish who is proud of her roots and where she has come from, and Amy Schumer who is not ashamed to speak loud and proud as a feminist. These are just a few of the women who support each other in the difficult industry that is comedy!

Being a woman in modern-day comedy has its rough moments, but it is also being redefined. The media can be their worst enemy and also a best friend. In this case, the media has begun to shed new light on these underappreciated, over-criticized, geniuses. In recent issues, Glamour magazine has changed their game by using comedy stars Kate Mckinnon from SNL and Tiffany Haddish on the last two covers.

They feature in-depth interviews about their careers, personal life, and dreams, something that comedians were not always included in. In the rest of the comedy-issue, they feature mini-interviews, tips, and other blurbs about the great women who are emerging into comedy.

All in all, women comedians, keep doing what you do best!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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