Lindy West takes to the stage to talk about being fat and dealing with ridiculous trolling on the live storytelling series Back Fence PDX in Portland:
Heartbreaking, love it, want to be her friend.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
As a feminism and comedy blog, we are obligated to inform you of the newest book on women in comedy: "We Killed: Women in American Comedy," by Yael Kohen.
I haven't read it yet, but I can summarize its reviews for you:
New York Times:
Janet Maslin writes for the NYT that We Killed is filled with stories from people in the industry and is "...apt to raise more questions than answers." Maslin slights the book a few times, for not being as good of an account of Saturday Night Live as another book which focuses entirely on Saturday Night Live and not coming to any solid conclusions about women in comedy. (This article initially screwed up and credited a different author for the book. Whoops.)
NPR's Linda Holmes calls it "sprawling" with "some sections are substantially more interesting that others." She ends with:
...Some of what's here is well covered territory; Ellen DeGeneres doesn't say much about her coming-out experience that's different from what she's said before, and the treatments of Mary Tyler Moore and other comic actresses are too brief to be satisfying. But it does touch on a wide variety of challenges that really are specific to funny women — how vulgar to be, how cute to be, how sexy to be, how self-deprecating to be (the term comes up over and over), and, crucially, to separate the challenges in your career that have everything to do with being a woman from the ones that have nothing or only something to do with it.
What makes a story like this a little poignant, of course, is that to the degree there's a history of it being hard for women to break into comedy, the ones that would be most interesting to know about aren't the ones who made it anyway, whose names you know. They're the ones who didn't make it, who couldn't figure out how to navigate around the obstacles. And if they're out there, it's hard to say how you'd find them.
So Teen Vogue is decidedly more positive, calling it "as entertaining as it is informative." This might be attributed to the fact that they scored an interview. They also ask dumb questions like, "You quote Chelsea Handler saying that female comedians don't always support each other. Do you find this to be true?" (That's it. I'm cancelling my Teen Vogue subscription.)
In the first question Kohen says she wasn't familiar with the WAF (Women Aren't Funny) thing before Christopher Hitchens. Ugh. I can't help but suspect that someone who was that far removed from the dialogue has just jumped in, interviewed a few folks (okay, over 150 people) and re-hashed other people's analysis.
Here we go- Kohen may have summarized her book for us right here:
When you speak to a lot of people, you realize that there are trends and similarities in what they're saying, which is how I organized the book. All these women are storytellers—that's what they do for a living—so why not let them tell their stories? It's more interesting than hearing what I have to say about comedy!
*Emphasis very much my own
Okay, I cannot read past the intro paragraph. Oh God! I forced myself. This is by far the dumbest review yet and makes me have no interest in reading the book:
And as each generation of women has developed its own style of comedy, the coups of the previous era are washed away and a new set of challenges arises. But the result is the same: They kill.Did this person actually read the book? And if they did, is the message that women, categorically, are good at comedy? I don't know if it would be worse that they assumed this is what the book says or if this is what the book actually says.
Rachel Shukert's Salon review title says it all: "'We Killed': were women not funny until 1960?"
She responds to WAF in the first paragraph:
Since this question was first answered in the negative in the pages of Vanity Fair by the late, redoubtable Christopher Hitchens, it seems to have been designated by the chattering classes as one of the great unanswerables of the universe, destined to be dredged up every time someone’s looking for page hits by pissing off the wrong person at some heavily trafficked and influential ladyblog...
Women are human beings (no matter what some Republican members of Congress might believe); some human beings are endowed with an innate talent to make others laugh; ergo, some women are funny. The end.
(Shukert, come to Minneapolis so we can drink beer together and be best friends.)
“We Killed” is a well-meaning effort, at times even a noble one...Oh, I like Shukert even more. She ends with more analysis than Kohen's book appears to muster up, regarding the threat of women comedians:
Humor is power. We kill, and something inside them dies.
I wish Shukert would write this book. I really don't mean to be snarky. Maybe I'm just upset that Nancy A. Walker is still dead. Not to be confused with comedian Nancy Walker, who is also dead. (Did I ever mention that I found N.A.W.s obituary when I was looking for a way to contact her to thank her for writing A Very Serious Thing? It was so sad.)
From the sounds of the reviews and her own interview, it doesn't sound like folks who are looking for writing to further the dialogue of gender and comedy will get much out of it, aside from the stories from particular people about particular times and places. Some of these reviews say the book starts in the 1950's, some say the 1960's. Either way, I wish it went back further, because it's not too hard to find stories since the 50's. Although everyone who is alive to tell the story from further back is... actually dead by now.
Is it a good thing that dialogue about women in comedy might be sparked? Heck yes. Maybe if you've never thought about women and comedy, you'll like this book. But the fact that you have found this post probably excludes you from that category. If you're a comedy writer/performer/superfan then you're already familiar with the institutional sexism in the Comedy Industrial Complex.The reviews don't give any indication that this book will provide more than some nuggets of women in comedy trivia like this:
- Pauly Shore's mother Mitzi was incredibly influential in 1980's stand up.
- Roseanne once had a Harvard-educated head writer ask her what lunch meat was.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Here's a great clip of actress Zoe Saldana and Amanda de Cadenet discussing women in Hollywood and they myth of modern day gender equality. Check it out!
Monday, April 9, 2012
In 2010, Glennis McCarthy founded G.L.O.C. aka the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy, a fantastic resource for comedians and fans alike. The site has now expanded to the stage. Glennis tells us all about it...
Wisecrack: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! First off, how did you get started in comedy?
Glennis McCarthy: Thanks for the interview! I moved to New York at 19 to pursue a career on Broadway which was, in my mind, a shortcut to stardom. (In lieu of college, which takes so long to make you famous.) When I realized the level of skill it took to make it in that world and remembered that I really had no formal training, I tossed out my character shoes and fled the scene. (JK I hung on to them. Those shoes are expensive!) Broadway requires a commitment level and passion I just didn't have at 19 (and still might not), but I was still hungry for stage time. I saw an ad in Backstage for a short form improv group at NY Comedy Club and had done some short form in high school, so I auditioned and started performing weekly with them. I met some amazing comedians there who really made me feel like I had a community in NY, but the show was a little unorganized so we all ended up moving on. That was around the time that the UCB Theatre, then housed in a converted strip club on 22nd street, was getting a little buzz and my friend Kirby urged me to go check it out. I waited on the never-ending line outside the theatre to see ASSSSCAT and after that one show, I was hooked. Everyone was so smart, so funny and the endless possibilities of long-form got me psyched to try it. I've been performing there, and all over New York at various clubs and theatres doing varying forms of comedy, ever since.
W: What exactly is the G.L.O.C. and why did you create it?
GM: G.L.O.C. or Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy (a tip of the hat to the badass bitches of GLOW -- Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and, in html form, TheGLOC.net is a community-building website for and by women doing comedy across the globe. Right now new content is going up on the site daily, we've got two shows running, G.L.O.C. Live at Littlefield Brooklyn and The GLOCDOWN at The PIT in Manhattan, and a third show, an all-improvised stand-up open mic, in the works. I'm also working on producing some original video content and we'll have video from the live shows and two podcasts. It's a lot, but the good thing is this is a community effort and I've got a lot of ladies helping out.
I get asked why I started G.L.O.C. all the time and honestly I think I originally started it because I needed a new project. I am very project-driven, as are most comedians, and was once of the mindset that the more projects I had going the better my chances of success. (I found this actually has the opposite effect.) So I started up a blog (http://
gorgeousladiesofcomedy. wordpress.com) and began interviewing the ladies around me doing the kind of comedy I thought was interesting and unique. When I was quickly getting hundreds of hits a day and had ladies wanting to write columns for the site I realized I was on to something. My mission with G.L.O.C. has now changed a bit. There is still the community aspect, as I think that's a very important part of getting and keeping more women involved in the scene, but I also want to encourage women to do comedy for each other. It's tough because we have to appeal to the people in charge and they are, more often than not, men. I just have this ridiculous notion that when we start doing comedy for each other the tides will shift. I think we've already seen this to be true with the success of Bridesmaids!
W: Yeah, we've seen the proven success of Bridesmaids, Parks and Recreation, Ellen. This year there are also many more female-led sitcoms on TV. Some people are calling the success of women in comedy a "trend'... what are your thoughts?
GM: It is most definitely not a trend. A trend is something that is over the minute it's called a trend (I'm stealing that insight from my brilliant husband, Matt McCarthy) and, try as they might (*cough-Lee-Aronsohn-hack*) this is much more than a trend. I for one am sick of seeing men write cliched dialogue and characters for women. Women are now writing for women and yes, sometimes it includes period jokes and crying while eating oversized muffins, but just as often it consists of brilliant and heartfelt humor which we can all relate to. We are weird, we are crass, we are classy, and most importantly, we are funny. It's time to recognize that on a larger scale and I think this is the just the tip of the iceberg. Iceberg lettuce, which has no calories so we can stay skinny and get on TV.
W: Have there been surprises (or challenges) along the way?
GM: There was a point where I felt like I was losing myself to the project and that was really hard to come to terms with. I put G.L.O.C. on hold for a while so I could figure out if this was something I wanted to devote all my time to and to figure out how to keep my own passion for performing alive in the process. I am a caretaker by nature and often to my own detriment, so I have to remind myself that it's OK to give myself some creative freedom where I need it outside of or even within G.L.O.C. Hosting the live show--and doing stand-up and storytelling when and where I can--has really helped renew my passion for G.L.O.C. again. I don't feel like it's a monster I created and am now beholden to; I've got much more control over things now. I've also learned that business relationships are just that--business. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but I'll never make the same mistakes again. It's all a learning process and I know more challenges are ahead, but I'm in a really good place now and really excited with the upcoming projects. (Projects!)
W: What comedians made an impact on you when you were young?
GM: The first woman I ever had a comedy crush on was, hands down, Tracey Ullman. She was (and still is) an fearless and flawless performer and I watched her show religiously as a kid. Before that I remember seeing Lily Tomlin on Sesame Street (as Edith Ann) and maybe not realizing just how funny she was at that young age, but I remember having this sense of overwhelming awe at her performance. Later in life I became obsessed with Weird Al and thought for a hot minute I would take over when I got older. (I wrote a pretty mean parody to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun... Girls Just Wanna Chew Gum. Clearly I was a child prodigy.) Once I started at UCB my comedy crushes were, of course, Amy Poehler, but also Miriam Tolan and Jodi Lennon who were, again, just these fearless women hanging with the boys on stage. It was a much more male-dominated scene when I started and those women helped me feel fearless when I took the stage.
W: Who's making you laugh, lately?
GM: I hate to be diplomatic, but there are just so many women I love that I would hate to list them and leave someone out. Anyone I put up on the site or on one of our shows makes me laugh. We did a Mixer at The PIT a few weeks ago and had over 60 performers doing stand-up, sketch, improv, characters and music. I am surrounded by so many brilliant women I just can't name names. Don't hate me for this answer. I can't stand the thought of someone hating me.
If you're in New York, check out the upcoming G.L.O.C shows:
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, 7PM
The G.L.O.C. ReLaunch Party
622 DeGraw Street, Brooklyn
Featuring performances by Kristen Johnston (Emmy Award-winning actress and author of "Guts"), Julie Klausner (author and host of the popular "How Was Your Week?" podcast) and Kambri Crews (author of "Burn Down The Ground: A Memoir"), a DJ'd dance party, gift bags, treats, drink specials, raffle prizes and more!
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door: http://www.
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 8PM
Comedy Central's Corporate Retreat: G.L.O.C. Edition
153 East 3rd Street, NYC
Featuring: Kara Klenk, Annie Lederman, Kate Berlant, Amber Nelson, The Reformed Whores and a special surprise headliner!
Hosted by Glennis McCarthy
Tickets $5: http://east.ucbtheatre.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
I'd like to take a moment of your time to steer you over here to Molly Knefel's excellent article, "Feminism is for Everybody, Especially Male Comics," on the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy site.
"[...] There are a lot of men in the comedy world (STOP THE PRESSES!!!) and, obviously, there’s a multitude of perspectives and beliefs and life experiences amongst those men. There’s also an incredible amount of sexism in the comedy world (I SAID STOP THE GODDAMN PRESSES), but despite my tendency to be a very vocal crank about said sexism, I also have a lot of optimism and hope that many of the men in this community really do value equality. I’m talking about the men who may still use the word “cunt,” who may still have entire open mic sets about how women don’t want to fuck them, but who treat their female colleagues with respect and laugh at their jokes and cast them in roles that aren’t just sluts and moms. [...]
"[...] As comedians, it’s our job to think critically. The word “feminism” has been smeared for decades, but if you believe in the simple and just idea that the genders should be treated equally, then please do not let fear and stereotypes stop you from saying so. This comedy shit is too hard for us to not support each other, and women are too funny for men to not stand up (ha, ha) and say so."
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Women in Comedy Festival in Boston. Aside from shows, there are workshops to get your comedy bootcamp on. So what are you waiting for? You have three whole weeks to find a way to Boston.
As Lane Moore writes, over at Feministing:
As Lane Moore writes, over at Feministing:
I can’t express how much I want to see a variety of voices out there and the only way to do that is by supporting events like this one and finding ways to support and encourage yourselves to go boldly in the direction of “that thing you do on the side”. Women, queers, and trans people already have so many hurdles to leap over when it comes to visibility in the arts that the last thing we need is to be the ones stopping ourselves.