In January 2007, Christopher Hitchens wrote a story for Vanity Fair entitled, “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” As you’d imagine, it was all about how women are inherently less humorous than men. Unfortunately, Hitchens isn’t the only one who thinks so, considering the overt male dominance in the comedy industry. It’s no secret that club owners are more reluctant to showcase female stand-up comedians than to book their male peers. But thanks to the pioneering efforts of these hilarious comediennes, the comedy world is no longer an unattainable place for women who want to make people laugh. Their stand-up continues to influence and redefine the industry as a whole.
Before she developed and starred in an Emmy Award–winning sitcom, she was a comedienne who made a name for herself as a “domestic goddess” with a nasal voice and a penchant for complaining about married and parental life.
“Some stuff bugs me about being married, like having a husband … ‘Roseanne, don’t you think we should talk about our … problems?’ Like I’m gonna turn off Wheel of Fortune for that?”
In 1986, she was the first stand-up comedienne to be invited for a chat with Johnny Carson after she performed on his show. Since then, she’s won countless awards, been the star of primetime and daytime television, and been voted one of the top five Most Influential Women in Media by Forbes.
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where … she is.”
In an interview on female comedians, Margaret Cho had this to say about Garofalo: “The boys were always super supportive of each other. And the girls didn’t really have that until [she] came to LA. She was like this punk-rock girl … She sort of lifted the veil of what comedy was all about.”
“Like many women in this room, I truly believe myself to be the fattest person that ever walked the face of the earth and, as that holds true, I do not deserve true love.”
he’s been making audiences laugh since the 1980s with honest observations about married life, politics, and society. In 2009, she was the first black woman and lesbian asked to be the main entertainer at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
“I think the biggest threat to marriage is divorce. That’s what [messed] up my marriage. If they’re so concerned about preserving marriage … they should ban divorce. Make marriage like the Mafia—once you’re in, you’re in. The murder rate will go up, but, you know …”
Cho debuted in Hollywood with All-American Girl, a short-lived sitcom based on her stand-up routine, which was inspired mostly by her family. No topic’s off-limits for her—she delves into gay culture, race, sexuality, stereotypes, and everything in between—and her openness is what continues to shock and entertain her fans.
“I guarantee you if straight men had a period, you would never hear the end of it.”
This famous redhead is far from the D-list after years on the stand-up circuit, comedy specials, and her own TV show on Bravo. Her constant efforts to achieve and maintain fame have paid off—she’s one of the most successful comedians, gender aside, in the world.
“I’m always listening and watching; my ear is like a boom mic. And judging, frankly. Constantly judging.”
Before gaining critical acclaim for her dramatic turn in Precious, Mo’Nique was better known as one of the loudest, funniest, and most profane stand-up comediennes around. She proves time and again that women can be just as raunchy and gratuitous as men—and can be funnier at it, to boot.
There may not actually be a single profanity-free Mo’Nique quote in existence. Try looking for her on YouTube.
Bamford utilizes the age-old self-deprecation comedy routine, but she takes it to a level that manages to disturb you and make you laugh at the same time. She proved on the fairly recent Comedians of Comedy tour that she can hold her own with heavyweights like Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis.
“She said I was afraid of success, which may in fact be true, because I have a feeling that fulfilling my potential would really cut into my sittin’-around time.”
Kathy Griffin once said, “Women are funnier than men. We’re funnier because we have to work harder.” And their hard work continues to pay off, both for their fans and for the countless females they inspire to get up on stage and prove that the myth that women aren’t as funny as men is exactly that.
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