Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Passing of Stella Young, Australian Comedian, Writer and Disabilities Activist

Very sad to learn of the passing of Stella Young, who was a comedian, writer and disabilities activist. She was 32 years old.

In her honor, here are a few of her smart, insightful clips. First, a stand-up bit from 2010 which includes a story about her discovering and then entering a competition where the award was a party of little people:

And here's a more recent clip of Young giving a TedTalk on "inspiration porn" or the ways images of disabled people, often doing everyday activities, are supposed to remind people how "lucky" they are, with a few choice quotes below:
"I use the word porn very deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case we're objectifying disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, motivate you so you can look at them and think, no matter how bad my life is, it could be worse: I could be that person. 
But what if you are that person? I've lost count of the number of times that I've been approached by strangers wanting to tell me how brave I am... they were just kind of congratulating me for getting up in the morning and remembering my own name...
...I use the term disabled people quite deliberately because I subscribe to what's called the social model of disability, which tells us we are more disabled by the societies that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses."

Stella Young's performance was sharp, witty, direct and connected with audiences in a way that made them smarter and more aware of the ways they may have been contributing to a world that discriminates against people with disabilities... while making them laugh. She will be missed and her impact will live on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

About Those Dove Commercials...

A spot-on take on the whole Dove marketing viral video genre:

"So where's our peace prize or whatever?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"The Maya Rudolph Show" airs May 19 on NBC!

And as if it couldn't get any better... Janelle MonĂ¡e will be performing. It's a pilot... but really, does anyone have any doubts that this is going to be awesome?

The news follows a week of people, upon the news of Colbert replacing Letterman, once again writing about how all these evening comedy shows star men.  Chelsea Hander's been getting a lot of attention, too, with folks speculating that she'll be replacing Craig Ferguson. But Maya Rudolph? Hadn't heard that rumor. What a delightful surprise.

H/T Colorlines

Friday, April 11, 2014

Let's Talk About How Delightful Nadia Kamil Is.

While doing my daily round of feminist websites, Jezebel did me a solid by posting an article linking to Nadia Kamil. Where to start?? Okay first, check out her amazing feminist burlesque piece:

And here's her new music video, a rap on pap smears:

Enjoy more of Nadia's work on her site.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quick Q&A with Linda Mizejewski, Author of Pretty/Funny

Professor Linda Mizejewski from Ohio State University has penned the latest book, Pretty/Funny, on feminism and comedy. She graciously took the time to answer a few questions for your reading delight: 
Professor Linda Mizejewski
What inspired you to write Pretty/Funny?

Comedy has become THE place where feminism is alive and well in pop culture!  But very little has been written about this.  Because it's "only comedy," there's a reluctance to talk about the real-life effects it has.  Laughter is a bonding device--that's why racist, sexist, homophobic jokes are so dangerous.  But if people are laughing together AGAINST racism, sexism, homophobia--that's a powerful thing. 

How do you think conversations on women in comedy have changed or evolved since the infamous Hitchens article?

Hitchens knew very well that things had already changed by the time he wrote that article.  But I think a clue is the huge success of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler--arguably, among the most famous feminists today!--at the Golden Globes two years in a row.  That's a prime spot for our very top comedians.  Giving that spot to two feminists is quite a coup.

Do you think what the mainstream considers "acceptable" narratives of female comedians is changing? If so, how?

"Girls" on HBO is a measure of that change, as is the success of Kathy Griffin, who openly claims she has nothing to say to straight men.  She's willing to blow off the very part of the audience that's traditionally been considered most important.  I'd use those two examples to argue that we now have a space for different comic narratives for women--certainly way different than the standard romantic comedy, which is where we thought of funny women in the past.

You've probably heard that the BBC recently banned all male comedy panels on their shows. Why is diverse representation important in comedy?

Minorities have always used humor as a source of self-empowerment.  It's the reason some scholars say modern American comedy is based on Jewish and then African-American comedians post-1945.  Comedy is a place where you can talk back, speak up, make yourself heard--and make it entertaining enough for people to want to tune in.

Have you come across any lesser-known comedians in your work that you think are doing exciting work whom our readers might like to check out?

I hope everyone knows about The MisAdventures of Awkward Black Girl on the internet!  And it's hard to say who's well-known these days, but Janeane Garofolo has been doing amazing feminist work for years and years, and she doesn't get the attention she deserves.  I also hope Tig Notaro as become well-known following that stunning monologue on breast cancer that's available on the Louis CK website.

As a professor, how do your students respond to conversations on feminism and comedy?

They love it!  My next project is an anthology on this topic for college students because it's a prime topic for classes in pop culture, women's studies, American Studies, media studies, etc.

I know our many of our readers can't wait to read Pretty/Funny. Any plans for a paperback release? 

The press has said they'll go to paperback if they see a lot of interest and response, so I'm hoping that happens soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Smokebreak: A Sexual Comedy on Porn Stars, Being Underemployed and the Human Experience (Guest Post by Madison Walsh)

Canada is known for many great things: Maple syrup. Michael Cera. Joni Mitchell. Ellen Page. "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" Peanut butter. This list goes on and on. And today, it just got one web series longer.  

Toronto-based and women-run FOUND Productions is releasing Smokebreak, a new web comedy about.... drumroll... just kidding you already read the headline. It's a comedy about porn actresses. And lucky for us, the whole "what happens in Vegas" rule doesn't technically apply to Canadians, because writer, actress and FOUND Productions member Madison Walsh tells us how this came to be:

Porn is bad. Porn will steal your boyfriend. It will misrepresent your orgasms. It will forever give you an unrealistic and unhealthy idea of how quickly a plumber will come to your house. That is why we women do not watch porn. 
Fuck that. I watch porn. So do my girlfriends. In fact one third of porn consumers are estimated to be women. You may not have a subscription or attend the fan expos but you can admit it, your secret is safe: you've watched porn. Haven't you? 
The four of us women who make up our little indie-company-that-could decided to come out about watching porn. In fact we decided to to make a web series about it. We saw an industry controlled by men that runs on women and we saw a lack of female representation on the matter (bleached buttholes and baby-voice web cam shows aside). Who are the women behind the fantasy? How are they struggling with the industry decline (the more free internet porn the less money to pay talent)? Why are they queens on your laptop and pariahs in every other respect? Any woman can do porn but only certain women do. We want to know why. 
During a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, my aforementioned compadres and I were thrown down the rabbit hole and so began our obsession with porn - more specifically the realities of it. One lucky night at a burning hot craps table we met a recently retired porn star and her porn producer boyfriend. We hit it off immediately. Craps led to dinner and fascinating tales about their lives in and out of the industry. All this led to the mecca: a rare invitation to visit a real live porn shoot. Uh, yes please. Nerves were shaken, notes were taken and fantasy overturned. We left that surreal experience with the knowledge that we had to write a show about this. It was far too funny not to. 
And so our characters were born. Porn stars Courtney Luvs Coxx, Sylvia Plowed, Brandy-Lynne Ridez, and “civilian” Abi Patel. We wanted to explore all types of women who get into porn; addicts, artists, and entrepreneurs to name a few. Our Abbi represents a common female POV on porn. Now don’t get us wrong - this is a comedy - there’s no doubt we took plenty of liberties with with these girls and we definitely weren’t writing a “porn star with a heart of gold” show. We wrote women we knew - who just happened to get paid to screw for the camera. Fun, right? 

As actors and writers we wanted an “in” to these women. Though we all watch porn and can now say we’ve seen full-on paid for penetration up close and personal; porn stars we are not. So we made them unemployed. We “laid them off” (har har har). I am a twenty-something woman who struggles day to day to find the next opportunity to get on camera and get PAID. I’m also a woman in a man’s world. See what I’m getting at? You may not relate to someone who fucks on film but I’m sure most of you out there can relate to being marginalized, discriminated against, or just plain down on your luck. 
Smokebreak is a sexual comedy - on our terms. Who says women's content has to be serious? We love the fact that there are women out there leading countries or spreading aid and compassion to the needy. We also know that some women out there are mean, dumb assholes -  we love that too. We four women are comfortable enough to admit there is a complete spectrum and we want to show its complexities.  We’re proud of the fact that, at the crux of it all, we are human beings. All of us. Porn stars or otherwise.

(Madison Walsh is an actress, writer and content creator based out of Toronto Canada. FOUND Productions consists of Madison, Supinder Wraitch, Sam Coyle and Bryn McAuley; all Toronto natives. Check out for more content and info.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Alert! Funny/Pretty: Women Comedians and Body Politics

Awesome- a new comedy & feminism book is on its way to publication. Written by Ohio State University's Linda Mizejewski, it's due to come out in March of this year.

From the website for the book:
Focusing on star writer/performer comedians—Kathy Griffin, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes, and Ellen DeGeneres—Pretty/Funny demonstrates that women’s comedy has become a prime site of feminism in the twenty-first century.
Looking forward to it's release...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hari Kondabolu on the year 2042...

 The awesome Hari Kondabolu on race and the projected year whites will become 49% of the US population. Enjoy! h/t Feministing

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hillary Rea on Being a Girl in the Stand-Up Boys' Club

True story: Back on Black Friday I had the good fortune of meeting Hillary Rea on a street corner in Miami Beach. We were both on our way to the same conference (coincidentally run by Jen Dzuira, who was featured a few years ago on Wisecrack) and were able to pick each other out on the street as... probably not belonging in Miami Beach. 
Hillary is an award-winning storyteller and comedian from Philadelphia. Fun fact: She also runs a show called Tell Me a Story, and you can see where she'll be appearing here. Below, she tells a true story of standing up to a fellow comedian... 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Congrats to Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin!


Comedy writer Jane Wagner and comedian Lily Tomlin have gotten married after 42 years together!

I saw Tomlin's one woman show in Minneapolis a few years ago. I'm pretty sure Wagner still does a lot of her writing. It was amazing. In college, I had an email signature from Search for Signs of Intelligent Life, but I didn't know whether to quote the more famous Tomlin, who delivered the line or Wagner who wrote it:

"I refuse to be intimidated by reality any longer."~Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SNL Responds to Criticism, Hires Sasheer Zamata

Photo: Cate Hellman 

Meet Saturday Night Live's newest actress Sasheer Zamata.  Sorry to write the headline that way. I'd much prefer that they just happened to hire Zamata, rather than that it took months of SNL shaming to finally convince SNL to hire at least one female comedian of color. Anyhow, she seems pretty dang charming. You might recognize her from an MTV show called Hey Girl, if you still watch MTV. (Who does that?) She was also on Totally Biased, and if you poke around her website, there's lot of videos to peruse.

You can hear Zamata chatting on Julie Klausner's show over here, but jump to minute 45 or so if you want to cut to the interview. There's a lot of talk of Beyonce and Kanye. if you want to cut to the talk about her webseries, The Pursuit of Sexiness, as well the lack of black women in comedy and the need for diverse writers go ahead to 1:18:18.

There were rumored secret-not-really-secret auditions recently in NYC, so this isn't a surprise. But still, it's about damn time and too bad SNL only chose one actress of color to join the cast. I'm fairly sure that this is only the fifth time in SNL history that they've cast a woman of color. (Sidenote, since I no longer watch SNL, it's really harder to care about it as much...)

Congrats to Sasheer Zamata. Too bad she has to start under so much pressure. Looking forward to catching her sketches on SNL.

Update: They've hired two additional writers from the auditions! Congrats to LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fake Geek Girls: The Show

Hey Nerd-Muffins, check it out:

Writer/director Sara Clarke was inspired to create this show after seeing controversy over the "fake geek girl" phenomenon explode online. As she puts it, "I saw a lot of feminist criticisms of geek culture that I thought were very powerful. I wanted to contribute to the discussion, but instead of a blog takedown or a documentary series, I decided to talk about awesome female nerds through comedy. Meanwhile, in the apartment downstairs, my hilarious neighbor Julie-Joy was looking for more material to stretch her wings as a comedic actress. That's how Fake Geek Girls was born."

Pretty awesome, huh? So here's the deal. They've only made this episode and to fund a whole series they're looking to raise a little cash. After you've checked out the show, you should go donate over here. I did. You can too. Everybody's doing it. 

What better way to inspire you to chip in or share the Kickstarter campaign than this Double Clicks music video:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Your Friends You Haven't Met Yet: Pony Ride

I'd like to introduce you to some friends you haven't met yet: Pony Ride aka Katie Smith, Jessica Spaw, and Alexa Green.

Let's get to know our new friends:

So how did you get starting making videos together?

The three of us all did improv at University of California Irvine (on the team Live Nude People *With Clothes On) together but parted ways once we graduated, it wasn't till a year later after moving each separately to LA, that we reunited and realized the best way to pursue comedy was to make our own content.

Awesome! What does your writing/editing process look like?

We have all studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade and feel that has had a major influence on our writing. Sometimes we write individually, sometimes together, and other times we have a concept and beats but we improv a majority of the sketch. Improv has taught us to ask ourselves when writing "if this is true what else is..." and that can really take us anywhere, which is a lot of fun.

Who are your comedy heros?

We have A LOT of comedy heros since there are three of us the top being: Tina Fey. Amy Pohler, The Mighty Boosh, Ricky Gervias, Carol Bernett, Kristin Wiig, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Zach Galifianakis.

Find more Pony Ride  Facebook or  YouTube. Can't wait to see future awesome from Pony Ride!

(I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that former Wisecrack-mentioned comedian, Lauren Lapkus from The Money Kids is now on the best show ever, Orange is the New Black. I think we can extrapolate this data to mean that Pony Ride will have a Netflix Original Series in approximately two years.)