Thursday, April 30, 2009

Citizen Journalism is Hot, Cosmo is Not

'Cosmopolitan' Institute Completes Decades-Long Study On How To Please Your Man

Cosmopolitan, with a readership of 632,000, is one of the most well-known “women’s” magazines in the world. It has also been criticized relentlessly by feminists who argue that women have interests other than just pleasing men.

It had been awhile, so I decided to check out Cosmo’s website and see if things had changed. Apparently not. One of the first articles that came up was “Sex Tips from Guys.” There’s no better way to "empower women" than by having men write the articles in women’s magazines, telling them directly what to do for them in bed. The advice given was anything but sex-positive. There was no focus on healthy communication. The article emphasized the importance of satisfying your partner with no mention of getting satisfied yourself. And, per usual, it assumed a heterosexual relationship from the get-go. I left reading Cosmo feeling insecure and paranoid.

Women's magazines shouldn't tell women what to do; they should give women a voice. This is why it is critical to support independent and feminist media. And if you’re not reading articles that represent you or your ideas, don’t be afraid to jump in and create something yourself. That’s how newspapers and magazines are founded.

Citizen journalism is a great way to get involved and reclaim the media. And the best part about it is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be professionally trained as a journalist to write a story, post a photo or video online, or start a blog.

In an article in MediaShift, it says “One of the main concepts behind citizen journalism is that mainstream media reporters and producers are not the exclusive center of knowledge on a subject -- the audience knows more collectively than the reporter alone.”

The article describes how in "We the Media," (Dan) Gillmor traces the roots of citizen journalism to the founding of the United States in the 18th century, when pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine and the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers gained prominence by printing their own publications.

Some cities have their own citizen journalism websites. In Minnesota, there is the Twin Cities Daily Planet, where anyone in the community can contribute articles, and there is also a list of resources for citizen journalists. In Portland, there is the Portland Independent Media Center, which advertises independent tv news, radio, print, and video; and where publishing a story is as easy as sending an email.
Another great way to create your own media is to start a zine! Zines are awesome and easy because you can make them at home, and there are no rules. You can be in total control of the content. In Portland, The Independent Publishing Resource Center is a great resource for getting started- members have access to workshops, a computer lab, copiers and a humongous zine library, which is a great way to learn about and support other independent writers. Independent and feminist bookstores are always a good place to look, and some local libraries even stock zines (and perhaps would stock more if requested). Portland is also host to the annual Portland Zine Symposium, a three-day event full of zinesters and workshops galore.
Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California that focuses on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works. On their website, they have tips about how to start a zine group yourself.

There are many ways to get published, so if magazines like Cosmo aren’t representative of you, create something that is.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Air America Interviews Kristen Schaal

You already love her from Flight of the Conchords and The Daily Show... don't forget to check out Penelope Princess of Pets!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Uniting Against Scout's Sexist Remarks at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

From Australia's The Age, this article by Peter Munro covers comediennes calling out a sexist scout on comments she made in this other article:

[...] No less than 27 female comics from this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which ends today, signed a letter deriding independent TV casting agent [Henrie Stride], who scoured the comedy festival for new talent and concluded that much of women's comedy was "angry and quite hard, bitter, man-hating, lesbiany"...

... Stride, a former Channel Nine casting director, directed most of her criticism at the narrow casting on commercial television, rather than female comedians. She laments the way commercial stations "turn everything bland" by preferring attractive, likeable personalities they see as marketable to mass audiences. "Don't shoot the messenger," she said yesterday. "I don't make the programming choices; I put forward the people somebody else chooses.

"A lot of people I know in my industry have said to me it's the white elephant in the room that nobody is brave enough to talk about." But she is sorry for the upset her comments have caused female comedians. "I was too judgemental and a bit harsh in hindsight … I hurt people and that was certainly not my intention."

Here's some interesting commentary by The Outland Institute blog:

So if you’re thinking of getting into comedy and you’re a lady, make sureyou stay upbeat and pretty! Don’t do any of that silly political material - it will only give you wrinkles. And for god’s sake don’t be lesbiany. That’s so important that Stride has made up a whole new word to get it across.

In fact, the word “lesbiany” gets to the heart of the matter. For a start,it’s not a real word. Secondly, by directly telling us that LESBIAN = BADStride has tipped from latent homophobia to overt homophobia

  I'd love to see the letter and hear about this from the comedians, themselves (email me at "wisecrackzine AT gmail DOT com" if you know someone who knows someone!).

Monday, April 27, 2009

First Annual "ImprovBoston Women in Comedy Festival" May 13-16

Press Release from the WICF website:

Cambridge, Mass. - ImprovBoston presents the first annual "ImprovBoston Women in Comedy Festival" to be held May 13-16, 2009. The festival is a celebration of Boston-area women performing improvisational, sketch, film and stand-up comedy. Acclaimed artists include Comedy Central's Kelly MacFarland and Erin Judge, Second City's Leah Gotsik and Marty Johnson, film featuring Sarah Haskins of TV, and actors from ImprovBoston and Improv Asylum Mainstage. 

The festival's mission is to create a forum for people to experience the unique comedic expression of women, see strong female performers and, most importantly, to have a great time. The event is affordable and many shows are family-friendly. 

There will be workshops on sketch writing and improvisational comedy taught by award-winning, professional talent. The festival will also feature panel discussions with local talent and entertainment professionals to increase dialogue among Boston-area men and women performing comedy, as well as comedy workshops with area high school students and the Cambridge Women's Center. Co-produced by veteran performers Maria Ciampa and Michelle Barbera, the festival is a volunteer effort made possible by the hard work of its artistic staff, the not-for-profit ImprovBoston Theater, and a grant by the Cambridge Arts Council, nurturing the arts in Cambridge, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. More information can be found at and

Funny Women in Comedy Festival videos at 

40 Prospect Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Shows begin at 8:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. Prices vary: $10 - $25 for adults, $7 - $15 for students and seniors. See website for details
*VIP Festival Pass: $70* 

Wednesday, May 13:
8 p.m. - "Comedy Kick Off", stand up comedy with Bari Olevsky, IB sketch group "User Friendly", and storytelling with Jess Sutich (A Night of Oral Tradition) 

10 p.m. - "Funny Guys Stand Up Showcase", hosted by Maria Ciampa, with Dana Jay Bein, Shane Mauss (Late Night with Conan), Ken Reid, Robby Roadsteamer, Micah Sherman, and Zach Sherwin aka MC Mr. Napkins. 

Thursday, May 14:
6 pm: - "Fabulous Females Cocktail Party" at ImprovBoston Lobby. Join us for a festive fundraiser to benefit women in comedy. 

8 p.m. - "Bastards, Inc.", featuring stand up comedy with Jess Sutich (A Night of Oral Tradition), Lindsay Gonzalez, Michelle Barbera (We're Making a Movie), and improv by Three Hole Punch and Bastards, Inc. 

10 p.m. - "Funny Films" featuring a night of short films and video sketch written, produced and created by women. Hosted by Rheri and Jim Kenney. 

Friday, May 15:
8 p.m. - "Atreus", Aeschylus meets Dallas. The world's first soap opera is reimagined in the modern-day, high-stakes business world. 

10 p.m. - "Friday Night Variety Show" with The Steamy Bohemians, stand-up comedians Carolyn Castiglia, M. Dickson, Shereen Kassam, Jennifer Myszowski, Sharon Spell, and special guests. 

Saturday, May 16:
6 p.m. - "Family Show", featuring the women of one of ImprovBoston's most popular shows. Suitable for the whole family, Family Show combines music, improv, and audience interactivity for a completely new show each time. 

8 p.m. - "The Women in Comedy Stand up Showcase" featuring Headliner Kelly MacFarland (Comedy Central), hosted by Erin Judge (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham) and Bethany Van Delft (Boston Comedy Festival) with Maria Ciampa (North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival), Selena Coppock (North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival), Desiree Burch (Hysterical Festival), Robin Gelfenbien (Hysterical Festival), Shane Webb, and special guests. 

9:30 p.m. - "Boston News Net", Boston's premier weekly fake news show features the funniest women in Boston: Kristina Smarz, Megan Golterman, and more. 

10 p.m. - "Improv and Sketch Showcase", featuring ImprovBoston Mainstage, Two Girls For Five Bucks, sketch comedy featuring Cathleen Carr and Daiva Dupree (Ars Nova), Somebody's In The Doghouse, sketch comedy featuring Marty Johnson and Leah Gotsik (The Second City at Sea) 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thank you for being a friend

Beloved Golden Girl and Maude actress Bea Arthur passed away today at the age of 86.
As one of the great comedic talents, Arthur will be missed. So here's to you Bea, rest in peace.

What is Feminist Humor, Anyway?

When I talk about this feminism and humor project, a considerable number of people shift their glance, squirm a bit.  Sometimes the smile politely and change the subject.  Sometimes they smile and ask what I think of 30 Rock/Roseanne/this one prostitute joke.  Once, a guy tried to bait me into an argument over Andrew Dice Clay.  (My response: "Yeah, I guess his rise was before my time.") More than once, I've been treated to the "Isn't that an oxymoron?" quip.  Zing!  Good one.  Way to prove you know nothing about feminism!

But you can't really blame people for being confuddled, especially if they're not hip to what feminism actually is, compared to its stereotype: angry, male-hating bra-burners with a not-so-secret agenda to lesbianize our daughters, refinish our garage cabinets and rule the world.  And these people have jokes?

The internet is littered with "Feminist Humor" sites, only adding to the miseducation. These sites feature anti-male jokes.  They were probably not written or labeled by feminists (we were too busy refinishing our cabinets).  But nonetheless, they reinforce the idea that feminism is about putting men down, which, if you're still confused about, isn't true.  

Here's the hard part.  It's easy to say what feminism isn't.  And much harder to say what it is.  Contrary to popular belief, feminism isn't one big united front, with a sneaky set of objectives.  Feminism or feminisms, as Make/Shift magazine likes to put it, are as varied as the groups that identify with the terms.  A commonality is a concern for the well-being of women and girls in a world that frequently treats them like crap.  Many feminisms recognize the intersectionality of how race, gender, class and sexuality can severely limit the opportunities for individuals... and think needs to be addressed and changed.  

And so, what is true "feminist humor"?  It's a slippery slope to try to create a classification system- this counts, this doesn't.  Generally, feminist humor is based on a worldview cognizant of the way the world oppresses certain groups.  It might address and invert cultural assumptions about identity or experiences of being marginalized.  But it might not.  In a world where women and minorities are given so few voices in the mainstream media, I feel that the act of a woman holding a microphone is feminist, in itself.  (Er, unless she's reinforcing misogyny with that voice.  See how tricky it gets to start saying what counts and what doesn't?)

Feminist Humor Theory is a interdisciplinary field of scholarship devoted to intersections of gender, humor and power.   It's really cool.  I'd recommend Nancy A. Walkers, A Very Serious Thing, if you're looking to read more about it.  More recently, Sabiyha Prince is writing about the ghettoization of black female comedians.  

We hope Wisecrack will be a virtual space for exploration of issues of gender and comedy.  We'd like to include as many voices as possible- if you're interested in contributing, let us know at wisecrack [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mary Mack Attack

I'm currently in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, "no, you go first" courtesy showdowns at four-way stop signs and jello mixed with cottage cheese, tangerine slices and- if you're lucky- shredded carrot.

Which puts me in the perfect mood for self-described "folk humorist" Mary Mack. Her midwest-focused work often includes musical numbers, a few of which can be found at her website,


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Colbert Effect (a.k.a. the Sarah Silverman Effect, the South Park Effect)

Lee Drutman has written this excellent article over at Miller-McCune about research on viewers' perceptions of Stephen Colbert's actual politics:

They then asked participants to evaluate Colbert's ideology and his attitude towards liberalism. What they found was that the more liberal participants reported their own ideology to be, the more liberal they thought Colbert was. And the more conservative they reported their own ideology to be, the more conservative they thought Colbert was. Both, however, found him equally funny. The results are published in the April edition of the International Journal of Press/Politics. "Liberals will see him as an over-the-top satire of Bill O'Reilly-type pundit and think that he is making fun of a conservative pundit," LaMarre explained. "But conservatives will say, yes, he is an over-the-top satire of Bill O'Reilly, but by being funny he gets to make really good points and make fun of liberals. So they think the joke is on liberals."...
..."The nature of satire, when you boil it down, is that messages are to varying degrees implied messages," explained Lance Holbert, a professor of communications at The Ohio State University who studies the intersection of entertainment and politics. "It requires the audience to fill in the gap, to get the joke. And it requires a certain bit of knowledge to fill in the gap. ... Certain types of humor are much more explicit. In satire the humor is very complex."

Just like 12 year olds and college professors can love the same South Park episode.  Or the Simpsons.  Or the Sarah Silverman Show.

Is it possible for irony to ever be used transformatively?  Does it matter if the audience understands when you're winking?  Is this simply a brilliantly inclusive form of comedy?

Like my friend Andrew says, "Even when you're doing it ironically, in the end, you're still just doing it."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jeremih - Earthday Sex

Okay. It's just the Birthday Sex song by Jeremih. But see how fun it is to change the words to Earhday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marie Claire's Quotes from Comedians

I keep getting emails about this article, and even though it's not brand new, it deserves some link love.

Marie Claire has gathered dozens of comedians' comentary on gender, race, appearance, etc. It's an interesting read, although I find myself craving actual interviews, rather than sound bites.

Monday, April 20, 2009

National Humor Month

I spent April Fool’s Day falling for and dishing out prank after prank, including getting my brother to eat a raw potato (disguised as an apple), finding a fake parking ticket on my windshield, and turning on the kitchen faucet only to get sprayed in the face. But, luckily, we can participate in shenanigans all month long, because April is National Humor Month! 

It was founded in 1976 by best-selling humorist Larry Wilde, Director of The Carmel Institute of Humor. According to, it is designed to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one’s life.

“Since April is often bleak and grim and taxes are due on the 15th, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year,” says Wilde on  

Here are some videos of lovely comediennes to celebrate:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why, Anna Faris, Why?: An Open Letter

Possible trigger warning...

Dear Anna Faris,

You had me at House Bunny.  

I hadn't really known you before that.  I watched HB with low expectations.  Maybe She's All That times ten, with lap dances.   And while the script wasn't exactly innovative,  your seemingly effortless comedic artistry carried the show.   You acted in circles around Tom Hanks Jr.  You spoke in a gremlin voice.  You won me over.

Which is why I was elated to hear that you'd be in Observe and Report and brokenhearted upon seeing the trailer.  Specifically- the scene where your character gets raped, one of the many "hilarious" moments highlighted in the preview.  (Quick clarification for readers: To have sex without consent is rape.  Someone cannot give consent while under heavy intoxication.  Ergo, having sex with a passed out person is raping them.  Everybody clear?)

Yes, I've read the interviews.  I know you thought the scene wouldn't make the final cut.  Did it ever cross your mind that it might and what the repercussions might be?  Did you think of the sexual violence survivors who might see their own traumatic experiences turned into a punchline?  Did you think of the young people who will list this scene as an example of why it's okay to have sex with wasted people?  

Seth Rogen's been taking a lot of heat over this.  I haven't seen you blamed once yet, and while I know you didn't write it, direct it or edit it, you did agree to shoot this scene and you're partially responsible for its existence.   (I know, there's an eerie victim-blaming echo to these words.  But you were not a victim.  You were an accomplice in a terrible scene.)

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The public controversy currently raised by Observe and Report is a fantastic opportunity for you, Rogen, and director Jody Hill to speak out against sexual violence.   It would be a great time to clarify your views on assault and educate the public on the importance of consent.  

This isn't about being politically correct.  This is about addressing a social epidemic rooted in a culture that doesn't take rape seriously.   Actions taken now could prevent sexual assaults in the future.  Please do something.

With respect,

Caitlin Rogers
Executive Editor, Wisecrack

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Smart Girl at the Party

I'm talking about the one, the only, Amy Poehler.

Why She's Badass:

1. She celebrates and honors young girls who are changing the world by being themselves with her online show Smart Girls at the Party. Check out the episode with Ruby the Feminist. Ruby's five years old. Nuff said.

2. Remember this?

3. Poehler's natural talent for "grossout humor" (One-legged hypoglycemic Amber with a flatulence problem, anyone?). And she's taking on the gross boy's club with her new movie Spring Breakdown, out on DVD this summer.

Feeling behind the times because you missed it in theaters? Actually, you didn't. Warner Brothers decided to release straight to DVD. So why, WB, did you pass up on the opportunity to put out this possible comedic gem to the masses? Recession cutbacks? No way, comedies are still making money. Is it simply a dud? Well, you are releasing 17 Again and Ghost of Girlfriends Past. So I ask, Really?! Really Warner Brothers? Straight to DVD?! Do you think that women can't handle being leads outside of romantic comedies (which are not really comedies but that's a post for another day)?

It's not like there's no star power (SB also stars Parker Posey, Rachel Dratch, Amber Tamblyn, and Jane Lynch). All of these women have a following. Do you think there's no demand? Whatevs, man.

Wisecrack readers, I issue you with a call to action: Rent Spring Breakdown. If you like it, buy the DVD (we'll show you WB!). Watch Amy's new show. Show studios that it's time for some equal opportunity goofball fun.

To get you pumped, I leave you with a little Parks and Rec:

Friday, April 17, 2009

That's So Gay - Wanda Sykes

In honor of the Day of Silence (today), bringing attention to anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools.

The Skinny...

We're in the midst of planning our upcoming launch (read: launch party!).  Our quarterly and blog will be up at before you know it.    In the meantime, one way to stay connected is to join us our Facebook group.   Or you can follow us on Twitter.  

We're also looking for a few good bloggers to join our communal blog.  Interested?  Send Caitlin a note at wisecrackzine AT gmail DOT com, with a link to your writing and a note about yourself.  
Looking to submit something?  Anna, our Submissions Editor can be reached at submissions DOT wisecrackzine AT gmail DOT com.   She's always accepting pitches, narrative essays, and articles (although read this entry first.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Karen Williams on Logo

Karen Williams

This video of Karen Williams had me rolling.

Karen Williams also leads workshops on comedy and healing from sexual violence. I just wanted to give you the chance to watch this video, but she deserves a much longer post about the possibilities of comedy to heal individuals and create a safer world.

Tweet Us!

Look out, internets.  We're on twitter.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Producer of Daily Show comes "Women's Studies"

(Getty Images Photo)

HBO is exploring gender politics with "Women's Studies," a comedy project from former "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" exec producer Ben Karlin and "NYPD Blue" alumna Theresa Rebeck.

"Studies" is being developed as a potential starring vehicle for Tony winner Julie White and centers on a onetime famous author who, after a tumultuous period as a feminist "it" girl, is now a professor at a small liberal arts college in the Northeast.

Exciting! We have high hopes, especially since Colbert Report/ Daily Show generally seem to have feminist underpinnings.   From Hollywood Reporter, full article here.

Video: A Storm is Gathering

Wake Up World

A lovely parody of Nation for Marriage ads from Shoot the Messenger.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

BEV / Warp X Last Laugh: Women Create Comedy

What a program!

Last Laugh- a UK-based initiative to encourage and women comedy writers of feature films. Check out for more info.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Supporters Potluck Meeting- Wednesday, April 15th, 7 PM

Quiz time! Do you enjoy:

Eating dinner with wonderful people?
Aldi wine?
Free fridge magnets?
Getting exciting updates on your favorite gender and comedy magazine?

If you said "yes" to any of the questions, you're invited to us for the next Wisecrack Supporters Meeting.

-April 15, 7PM
-Caitlin and Michael's place in Chicago (for the address, email a request to "wisecrackzine AT gmail DOT COM")
-Bring something edible.

Friends are always welcome! Feel free to forward this invitation to potentially interested parties. This is a non-committal way of supporting and checking out Wisecrack.

Your brains will be picked, poked, prodded by our highly credible team of brainologists. The magazine will be discussed. Fun will be had.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm not a feminist but..

Originally posted at Apparatchicks . No, it's not about comedy. But it does a fantastic job of dispelling myths about feminism that we're up against as a feminist organization.

As the leader of a feminist group on campus, if there was ever a phrase I heard commonly, it was this. I never quite understood it- otherwise intelligent women who professed their support for things like pay equity, reproductive rights and ending violence against women but refusing to call them feminists. What gives? To be sure, some of it is just confusion over what the label entails.

Feminism as a movement has often been hijacked by radicals, meaning different things to different people. On the one hand, women like Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly proudly call themselves feminists, even though their careers have been founded on misogyny and anti-woman policies. By the same token, you have some crazies who think that pornography and stripping are actually “empowering” to women. Or those who think that reproductive rights are absolute, without any regard for moral and ethical considerations. Clearly, the extremes aren’t good and as is the case with many movements, people are often presented with a vision that is out of touch and unrepresentative of most feminists.

And, where to begin with the ugly stereotypes of feminists, many of which surely turn off young women? A friend, after attending the Jessica Valenti at IU Monday, stumled upon this link titled “Feminism is Evil” during a regular google search for “feminism.” You know what, though? Some feminists are hairy, some are lesbians, some are fat, some are ugly, some hate men, some don’t wear bras. So what? As Anna would say, hurray for uncompromised and radical feminism! At the same time, no woman wants to be called ugly or fat and these stereotypes, according to Jessica, demonstrate that many still feel threatened by the feminist movement. Why else would they spend so much time trying to discredit it?

Jessica, who is hella cool by the way, also spent some time during her lecture dissecting the purity myth in our society, the topic for her upcoming book. Valenti called for the deconstruction of virginity as a concept, specifically as it relates to women’s sexuality. Indeed, conservatives and anti-feminists have spent so much time obsessing about young women’s sex lives, decrying the rise of “raunch culture” or the “hook up culture.” These exaggerated phenomenon are then used to make judgments about a woman’s character- as Jessica stated, for women, their moral compass lies between their legs. Based on the reaction from the audience, I could tell that this was the most relevant part of Jessica’s speech and I’m not surprised. I only hope that events like these bring out the closet feminists and I know there are a lot out there!

Sorry ladies (and dudes)…many of you are feminists. You just don’t know it yet!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Chicago: Upcoming Improv Fesival & Women's Panel

The 12th Annual Chicago Improv Festival is coming up, April 13-19.

From their website:

"Women's Panel Discussion
Sunday, April 19, 3pm-5pm

CIF reunites with Chicago Women's Improv Forum to co-present a women's only panel discussion. This discussion will feature women improvisers from America, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Israel talking about improvising as females with an international perspective.

Site TBA. This panel discussion is free to the public."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

First Aid: Women In Comedy Festival 2009

Check it out, Bostonians! May 13-16 for more info

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chicago: Recommended Shows this Weekend

Friday, April 3rd:

Ha Ha Hotties
Chicago Center for the Performing Arts

An all female stand-up showcase featuring Bailey Bing, Anna Morrison, Emily Lake, and Staci Fletcher.

Saturday, April 4th:

Paper Trail
the Conservatory: 4210 N Lincoln Ave

See the longest-running all female improv troupe in the country in their long-form show!

Sunday, April 5th:

Children of a Lesser God
iO Del Close Theater: 3541 N Clark

Emily Candini, Kate Duffy, Rachael Mason and Susan Messing come together to form CoaLG, an weekly improv show following their British characters' adventures and relationships.