Women are a small minority in the stand-up comedy world — but it isn’t because women aren’t funny.
Many people are accustomed to hearing sexual jokes from a man. But when dark and explicit humour comes from a woman, some audiences just don’t bust a gut. And from my experience, some guys would rather stare at your well-lit boobs instead of listening for the punch line.
Crafting the perfect comedy set as a woman is an interesting balancing act.
As an experienced amateur comedian, I have discovered that no one listens to a full set of clean family humour with labeling the comedy prudish, but too many sex jokes cause mutterings of “tramp”.
As comedian Aisha Tyler put it: “Women are not socialized to be aggressive. We are very much kind of told by culture to be precious, be pretty, be cute, and comedy is not precious, or pretty, or cute.”
Comedy is an aggressive form of entertainment — it consists of one person yelling jokes at an entire room.
But the industry standard of “man up or get out” isn’t acceptable, especially with other significant barriers to success female stand-ups must overcome to make it to the main stage.
Heckling is a common problem across the board, but when there’s a female stand-up, some audiences are more likely to yell back. I think this is because of the smaller physical form and quieter personalities of many women and comics.
Getting heckled really bad when you first start stand-up comedy is like losing your virginity to a guy who doesn’t call you back. The show must go on, but this precious experience is now marked. It can be difficult to get back on stage as an amateur after a negative encounter.
A comedian’s life on the road is also more conducive to men. The most popular mode of billeting while on tour involves shared quarters owned by the comedy club.
I’ve tried to get to know male comedians in different comedy circuits with more entertainment experience and social clout than I do.
I start out by thinking I may have an opportunity to get advice from a pro or even get a slot as an opening act.They go on just trying to prove they’re pro at the opening act in the bedroom.
It isn’t all jokes being a female comedian, but I encourage everyone who has an inner clown to try it out.And if you’re ever in a comedy audience, be kind, laugh and have fun.
Kendra is one of The Journal’s Photo Editors. She’s a fourth-year ArtSci student.
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