Female comedians challenge gender stereotypes


Talia Milavetz, Contributing Writer

Despite the major success of women such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, many still have trouble accepting that women are as funny as men. Handler was the only late-night female talk show host on current television until “Chelsea Lately” ended this August. She often explains that she is tired of being asked what it is like to be the only late-night female talk show host, or what it is like to be a woman in comedy. Handler would much prefer to be asked plainly about her comedy, instead of being questioned about it through the lens of a woman.

Other women in the industry seem to agree. They say they are sick of being labeled as vulgar or crude when telling a joke that would be considered hilarious if told by a man. Fey most clearly explains this in her best-selling autobiography “Bossy Pants.”  In her book, Fey tells about what it was like when Poehler first joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Poehler told a joke that was perceived as dirty or vulgar by some of the cast members. When Jimmy Fallon jokingly called her out on this, Poehler said, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”

When female comedians embrace this type of brash attitude, it contributes greatly to their success. It is important for them to stay true to their personal sense of humor without regard to pleasing anyone else. When they do, their comedy comes through as unique to their own personality. The female comedians who take on this mindset overcome the stereotype that women cannot be funny, and that all comedy by women is the same. With this mindset, female comedians can write for “SNL” and produce best-selling books, TV specials, sitcoms and late-night talk shows that will rightly gain just as many laughs as their male counterparts.

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