Splitsider

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Why More Women Should Write Comedy: A Mathematical (But Not Boring) Study

The notion that women aren’t funny is as old as the people still bringing it up. These days in comedy, funny women are everywhere. And yet the men writing comedy still outnumber the women by a wide margin. So while the idea that women aren’t funny has been soundly defeated, a new question has taken its place — since we know women are funny, why aren’t there more female comedy writers?

My immediate reaction to this question is a residual, vague resentment, aimed at absolutely no one in particular. Someone, somewhere, is deciding women aren’t funny! This is an outrage! Show yourself, you amorphous oppressor! I want to know who I’m yelling at!

But the truth is this: more men are succeeding in comedy because, quite simply, more men are trying. Women have proven themselves just as capable of creating and running sitcoms as men, but they aren’t attempting to do so in the sheer numbers that men are.

Take network television, for example. Of the 27 creators responsible for the 15 sitcoms currently running in primetime, only three are women (Tina Fey, of course, along with Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline of The Middle). Well how dare you, NBC, FOX, CBS and ABC? What, did you pass over a bunch of presumably great, female-helmed sitcoms just to get some more boy writers in primetime? Also, ABC, were you as surprised as I was when you found out Cougar Town was created by two dudes? Because I was super surprised.

Let’s also consider the recent crop of new green lit series. Perfect Couples, Traffic Light, Mr. Sunshine, Mad Love, Breaking In and Happy Endings were all created by men. So what the deuce is going on here?

Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle — of the 71 creators with 41 pilots in consideration by the networks last year, only 9 were women. That means nearly eight times as many men had pilots in the running last year as women did — almost exactly the ratio of male to female creators we see on network television today. Overall, women and men are seeing success in comedy in the exact same proportions. And I am awesome at both math and proving things with facts.

I work at the comedy website CollegeHumor.com, where I am one of two staffed female writers within a writing team of 16 (boom — recognize that ratio, motherfuckers?). I am often asked why we don’t have more female writers. The answer is, again, depressingly simple: we are completely underwhelmed by the number of female applicants. Like any content publisher, we look for the best writers, period, regardless of gender. Our intern application ratio of guys to girls is 6:1.

It’s interesting to consider the possible reasons behind this imbalance. Do women still think that they can’t succeed in the “man’s world” of comedy? More specifically, are women intimidated by the lack of women in comedy and therefore don’t see the possibility of their own success? A self-fulfilling prophecy, where women don’t see other women succeeding, so they don’t try themselves, so they then aren’t able to succeed? God, I fucking hope not! That would suck.

So what can this impressive flaunting of knowledge and generous sprinkling of facts teach women who are either bummed about the comparably small number of female writers in comedy, trying to succeed in comedy themselves, or both?

First of all, aw, don’t be bummed. Women are killing it out there. In fact, while women only account for 11% of sitcom creators, they account for 26% of staff writers, and a full half of the writers at both Cougar Town and Community are women (bravo!). And a whole new generation of female show creators have recently inked development deals (Mindy Kaling, Liz Meriwether, Lena Dunham, Kelly Oxford, Julie Klausner), so those percentages can only go up. The bottom line is, and I hope this lights a fire under some butts, if more women put themselves out there as comedy writers, then more successful comedy writers are going to be women. [ATTENTION SKIMMERS: That last sentence is basically the crux of the piece, so make sure you got it.]

And there is SO MUCH ROOM for women to write comedy! Holy crap! The comedy marketplace is completely over-saturated with men and under-saturated with women. We just need to realize that the lack of female representation falls primarily on our (strong yet breathtakingly elegant) shoulders, and no one else’s. If you’re a strong female writer, now is the time to get noticed. The generations before us did the tough part, fighting hard against the misconception that women weren’t funny. Now all we have to do is not make it awkward for them.

Sarah Schneider is a staff writer and actress at CollegeHumor. She spent way too much time on Wikipedia for this article.

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  • http://improvscapades.blogspot.com lbretheim

    Great article! My butt's on fire.

    • Sarah Schneider

      Totally unrelated to this article. You've been sitting on a candle.

  • JoshUng

    Interesting read. I was suprised Community was so full of female writers, which might explain why its so different to many other sitcomes (in a good way). I knew Cougar Town was created by men, as it is from the Scrubs guys, and when you know that, it starts to become obvious, as the styles start to seem very similar.

  • Megh Wright

    Wow, awesome article! Thanks for doing the math so I don't have to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allison-Davis/585620513 Allison Davis

    I was called for a meeting with Comedy Central after they read my pilot. They told me that they loved my voice and thought the pilot was great, but they're looking for more male centric humor. (read: Fart jokes) When I responded that my comedy is gender-neutral but from a female pov because duh, I'm a woman, I got pretty blank looks. So yeah, almost.

    • Sarah Schneider

      Yeah, that's frustrating. But that's less a reflection on your script and more a reflection on Comedy Central having to cater to a predominantly male audience. Concerns that a show with a female POV may not be relatable to a male-skewing audience seem fairly reasonable. Luckily, plenty of networks don't have to worry about that, and I hope your pilot finds a home at one of those!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allison-Davis/585620513 Allison Davis

        Thanks! I didn't think it was a reflection on my script, they called me. But…isn't that Spike TV? Which CC owns? And doesn't "central" imply "all?" It's not like I can take my scripted comedy to Oxygen. But less about me or even CC, more about the imbalance in media outlets and representation. I mean, it's kind of a chicken egg thing…maybe the audience is male-skewing because CC is only buying male-skewing stuff. And women are discouraged to contribute because they also only see male skewed stuff. It's like being a female rapper, many times you either have to be incredibly hot and use your sex or pull your dick out to be considered. Or all three. Maybe I should try rapping? Also, great article. Loving the week.

        • Leila Cohan-Miccio

          Great, great piece! I tend to write extremely female-centered stuff and I agree with Allison – I've been told it's too girly to be a fit for allegedly gender-neutral outlets (my favorite remark: "It's really female, but it's really funny." What's that "but" supposed to mean?). I think part of the solution is developing more female-inclusive outlets/websites/networks – seems like there's a huge community of women who want to see lady-heavy scripted comedy.

  • Shannon

    I believe the imbalance has a lot to do with women accepting the "Women aren't funny" stereotype and the already lack of representation in the media. It seems like "oppressed or underrepresented groups" have to break through by starting a movement. Something to evoke social change. The more women we see breaking down barriers, the more inspired other women become.

    We still can't ignore the fact that comedy is very male-centered and many men are sexist assholes that discriminate against women and favor men. That, alone, is very discouraging. Female comedy writers and comedians are undervalued, but it's changing…..right? I hope.

    • Sarah Schneider

      You're right, and I'm sure that within the comedy industry there are still plenty of sexist assholes. But to be discouraged from following a career in comedy simply because they exist? Booooo. We have to, pardon the phrase, go balls out here. Funny is funny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emma-Blake-Handler/1699717284 Emma Blake Handler

    i love this article. i just want to say that i am 15 years old and even before this article, had fully planned to enter the comedy world. i just cant believe that more women arent even trying!

    • Sarah Schneider

      Oh man, you are already ten times cooler than I am. When I was 15 I was playing flute in the marching band. Which actually explains a lot why I turned to comedy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emma-Blake-Handler/1699717284 Emma Blake Handler

    ALSO i think women in comedy week is inspirational, and should be done once a month <3

  • http://www.collegehumor.com/user:328495 Chase Mitchell

    I find this phenomenon especially frustrating because my girlfriend is literally the funniest person I know, and I cannot convince her to write or try comedy in any capacity. Seriously. Don't even ask her. It will lead to a giant fight and she will make you sleep on the couch in your own house.

  • Maggie Lee

    Hey lady, you're funny. So is Tina Fey, I have a picture of her hanging on my wall in my room. She's funny. Funny lady. I'm an eighteen-year-old-female-school-lunch-table kind of comedian. Representing the funny women of the world, big.time.

  • http://www.twitter.com/becca_oneal Rebecca O'Neal

    Motivated! This is basically my "We Will Rock You" of the day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Iampietro/1148139349 Mary Iampietro

    I've have always wondered about the broader reason there aren't more women in comedy as well. I wrote a while back about how the amount of women I went to college with was even with men and then somehow they all disappeared (http://maryiampietro.com/to-all-my-creative-ladies/). I'm sure the reasons are numerous but it still doesn't explain why there isn't the same drop off in men.

    I think in just a few years we won't even be having these conversations anymore because the numbers will even out. Younger generations of women aren't hearing the "you can't be funny" message anymore. I know I barely heard it growing up (although it was there) and that's why I decided to pursue a career in comedy writing!

  • Laura

    I think it's ignorant to ignore the inherent sexism that continues to run rampant not only in the media industry as a whole, but especially in comedy. I would consider applying for a College Humor internship, but was discouraged by some "requirements" such as "Not a loser" and "A good sense of humor", which in my experience (and based on some of the grossly sexist CH material) means that I wouldn't qualify because I'm a woman and a feminist and I don't find things like rape jokes funny, because it's not.

    In addition, women still have the extra hurdle because we can't rely on "comedic femininity" the way male comedians can (i.e. cross-dressing, liking things like Glee). In fact, these tropes are another subtle reinforcing factors that keeps women from being taken seriously, because things that are traditionally "female" are considered "funny".

    So yes, it's important to encourage female comedians and writers to keep working hard, but it's also not helpful to ignore the state of the field altogether.

    • http://www.collegehumor.com/user:328495 Chase Mitchell

      Though I couldn't speak for them like Sarah can, I've worked with CH as a non-staff contributor for three years (I submit my pitches to their female — and very funny — front-page editor) and I can assure you that CH did not intend for "not a loser" or "a good sense of humor" to have any gender implications whatsoever.

    • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

      Uh, what rape jokes? Also, being offended by "not a loser" and "good sense of humor" requirements on a comedy site seems patently absurd to me. Like, seriously? That offended you?

      Also, "comedic femininity"? That's kind of ridiculous. What about the funny things a uniquely female POV can bring to comedy that men can't pull off? That doesn't count for anything?

      • Diane Kerstein

        @Adam FYI: When trying to figure out why so few women participate in comedy writing, it's counterproductive to minimize the reasons that make them feel marginalized from the comedy community.

        Here's a rape joke from an cursory search on google: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1923420
        Also there is a rape tag.

        • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

          @ Diane: I wasn't minimizing the reasons women feel marginalized. I was questioning how reasons so clearly non-gender-specific and, let's be honest, ridiculous, could keep someone from applying to a job they wanted. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for women to feel marginalized in the comedy community, but jokey job requirements saying you should have a sense of humor ain't one of them.

          As for that rape joke, well, OK. That seems pretty harmless to me? But I think I just take issue with the idea that CH is some sexist machine pumping out rape jokes by the pound. If that clip you linked to is an example of something that offends you and is something you see as sexist, I would suggest that you get offended pretty easily. The joke was on the expense of Link and how he should have been outraged by it, it wasn't a video that had some sort of "rape is hilarious" message.

          • Diane Kerstein

            @Adam Of course you are minimizing it. When Laura explained what put her off, you called her reasoning ridiculous, replaced Laura's experiences with your own, and determined that her issues with the requirements are not a reason not to apply. Obviously they are, as they affected Laura's experiences (which are hers, not yours) and it is not ridiculous because, as this fucking article points out, SOMETHING IS MAKING WOMEN FEEL UNWELCOME. You saying "that's not it" when a woman says "this is it" doesn't change anything, it only minimizes hers experiences.

            Anyways, as Laura pointed out, it's not the words "have a good sense of humor" but the context that comes with it. Right in you comment you do EXACTLY what she is talking about – I point out an inappropriate rape joke and you say I'm easily offended. I guess I don't have a good sense of humor huh? What does it take to have one, Adam?

          • Diane Kerstein

            btw here's a more explicitly offensive video since you can't see what's wrong with casually referring to rape:
            http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1829509

          • Sarah Schneider

            That video wasn't made by CollegeHumor, actually.

          • Diane Kerstein

            Is CH not responsible for the content on its site? Do they make a clean distinction between their own content and those of others? What about the misogynist comments? Is there a TOS? Moderators? Editors? A basic set of guidelines for what can go up on their website and what is out of bounds and offensive?

            Wait, hold on… forget all that.

            http://www.collegehumor.com/cutecollegegirl

            really?

          • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

            Diane, you're right that it's not up to me to tell anyone whether or not anyone should be offended by something. I don't find that video offense, but you certainly have every right to be offended by that. I'm sorry for suggesting otherwise.

            But I'm guessing you don't know much about CH and weren't familiar with it before looking up examples of how awful it is? Correct me if I'm wrong! But since you needed to use Google to find a video of theirs that offended you and then posted a link to a clip very clearly not made by them, it seems like you started with a conclusion and then went hunting for evidence. I don't think you've seen many of their thousands of original videos, nor do I think you're familiar with what they've been making lately.

            CollegeHumor caters towards a young, male audience. That's their brand, and they do it because A) it generates reliable traffic B) it generates reliable advertising revenue. It's just what it is, and that's why they're able to employ a writing staff of 16 people to make videos just for the internet. It is very difficult to be profitable making videos on the internet! But catering to a male audience is not the same as being sexist or female-unfriendly.

            Despite their brand being very male-skewing, when they started making a push to make web series last fall, they created three web shows: Very Mary Kate, Full Benefits and Hello My Name Is. Two of those three shows were created by and star women, and they're two of the most popular (and best) series on the site. Do they still make one-off videos that cater to the 20-year-old male crowd? Of course. But that doesn't mean they're some sort of rape joke producing frat house.

            Anyone has a right to be offended by anything, sure. But what I take issue with is making a broad generalization about an entire website that's actually producing more female-created content than pretty much any other comedy site on the internet, especially when you're clearly not very familiar with what you're criticizing. I think it's just objectively untrue, whether or not you're offended by one or two videos they've produced over the years.

          • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

            Also, just FYI, that Axe for Women UCBcomedy video you linked to was written by and edited by the woman who stars in it.

          • Diane Kerstein

            Adam, I had to search because I was not the original person arguing about CH putting off an unwelcoming vibe to women applying (I also don't keep a database of everything that is offensive on the internet). I was simply pointing out that you saying there are no rape/sexist videos on CH is disingenuous and a cursory search will prove that. I'm also not a comedy writer and have no interest in being one, so I'm not looking for work from CH and evaluating their product and work environment and how that would affect me as a feminist.

            But I am a woman in the working world and understand what it's like to feel like you have to sacrifice something to get a job. Like Sarah, I work mostly with men and they often make jokes that I find inappropriate, but I am able to ignore them, enjoy my job, and get my work done. But there is a line where the sacrifices are too large, the emotional hurdles are too high, and it's not worth participating.

            Almost all comedy is catered to a young, male audience and altho that may be profitable for the company, it also can easily foster an environment that is unwelcoming towards women. I say that as a woman who watches and enjoys CH, Comedy Central, action movies, video games, sports, and a plethora of other media and entertainment that is created and catered towards men. I enjoy it but as a woman, I am always an outsider, a minority, the brunt of a joke, or linkbait. Not ALL the time, as I am still able to enjoy the content, and much, as you pointed out, is gender neutral, female created, and features women (which is often a feat in itself), but not enough to balance out that 6:1 ratio.

            btw just because an offensive video is written by a woman does not make it any less offensive. The issue is the content, not the creator. Women are not free of sexism by virtue of being female.

          • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

            OK, well I think we're debating separate things here. I'm not going to argue that most comedy isn't catered towards men; it is. We probably agree more than we disagree.

            I took issue with the specific language and reasoning she used, dismissing CH as "grossly sexist" and listing those two specific "requirements" which, in my mind, are in no way gender-specific. Without her having come back to back her first comment up, who knows what her actual rationale was, but to me she seemed to be unreasonably dismissing the entire website and unfairly thinking that she wouldn't be made to feel welcome working there as a woman. And really, to not even try to work in comedy because you think the entire world of comedy is inherently sexist due to always feeling like "an outsider, a minority, the brunt of a joke, or linkbait" is sad, and one way that this issue will never be fixed.

    • Sarah Schneider

      I agree that we can't ignore sexism, but using its existence as a reason not to write, to me, is just as ignorant. As is a strangely aggressive statement accusing me and my fellow professional writers of being grossly sexist rape joke writers.

      I wrote this article to encourage more women to write, not to give them more reasons not to.

    • http://twitter.com/petegaines petejayhawk

      Holy crap, Laura. Lighten the fuck up. And that's a gender-neutral statement.

  • Maggie Lee

    @maggie44 on twitter

  • brendonb

    Two points:
    1) Rape humor is horrifyingly unavoidable in a lot of latter-day comedy. Even 30 Rock – a network sitcom created and run by a woman – has traded in some pretty awful rape humor. (In general, Pete Hornberger seems to serve as a vector for that show's writers' worst impulses). To pretend that this sort of stuff isn't repellent and disheartening to young women who might want to enter comedy writing is really disingenuous.

    2) I'm surprised no one so far has mentioned the fact that Showtime is really fucking stellar in their track record for shows-by-women and about-women. Over half of Showtime's comedies and dramedies were created or co-created by women, and that network has built an enduring audience for itself on those shows (and Dexter).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Shapiro/4203781 Laura Shapiro
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Shapiro/4203781 Laura Shapiro
  • http://likeaduck.tumblr.com L Shap

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that basically they basically gender segment television into dramas for girls (lifetime, most shows with hospitals in) and comedies for boys (comedy central, adult swim). But then all the "good" dramas like Mad Men and the Wire are about hyper-masculine shit like being a violent criminal or Don Draper. Also I'm noticing that most competitive reality shows are marketed primarily at dudes (except, like, project runway) and "passive" reality shows at chicks (except, like, pawn stars). Basically what I'm saying is, I'm sick of ads for guys on all the shows I watch (but then I wouldn't be satisfied with ads for ladies either, as Target: Women taught us).

    Conspiracy theories (and interior design) aside, this article was in fact inspiring and I am going to make a conscious effort to remember funny ideas I have and try to write something about them.

  • Shannon

    Seriously, the most effective way to combat sexism in comedy and under-representation is to create a movement that encourages and values female comedians and writers. Even if it's a random facebook or twitter campaign(utilizing social networking) or a nationally known organization(still more about networking). It would be lovely if more men found this problematic and helped to balance it out.

    To add to my networking point: Are female comedians and writers networking as much as their male counterparts? There seems to be a lot of individualism and tokenism instead of a strong community of female writers and comedians. Male comedians and writers are ALWAYS networking and working together.

    Seriously, networking helps.

  • http://twitter.com/petegaines petejayhawk

    I think it's sexist that the title of the above photo is "30rocktoofer" when it should be "30rocksue." SEXIST.

  • http://jeslyncat.tumblr.com jeslyncat

    This was great and I definitely am more inspired, but one point I thought I'd make for why I've felt discouraged in the past to dream of being an awesome woman comedy writer is that… Well, okay, like this: "A self-fulfilling prophecy, where women don’t see other women succeeding, so they don’t try themselves, so they then aren’t able to succeed?"

    I actually see other women who ARE succeeding–such as your hilarious self! And my heroine, Mindy Kaling! And my not-really-nemesis-but-jealous-because-she-is-only-one-year-older-than-me-imaginary-frenemy Lena Dunham–and I think, well that's it. The position is filled. The world can only take so many token-females in this arena and the best ones are already there, so why bother trying? That's kind of a fucked up outlook to have. But I'm not sure if it's the male dominated society making me feel like it wouldn't accept more women saturating their comedy… or, y'know, my own self-hating mindset projecting itself on them. Hm.

    Despite this, I would totally apply for a CH internship if I a) wasn't living in Arkansas 2) could at least find a place to stay in NYC cheap (haaahaha, but for real). Though, I'm not even sure you guys accept out-of-staters? Anyway, I can't wait for more Full Benefits!

  • http://www.getinthehatch.com Alexandra Gray

    Totally agree with Sarah on this one: the best way to increase the representation of female comedy writers is to BE one. BE FUNNY. Do it – write, submit, riff loudly with your friends at parties, drunk-tweet, self-produce, whatever. And don’t just network with your female counterparts; do it with (gasp!) dudes as well. If there’s still any ugly residue of that “Women aren’t funny” bullshit on the comedy beer stein (thanks, Christopher Hitchens!), it ain’t gonna be wiped clean by an organized campaign or pouting outside the party. It’ll be because the funniest women you know stagedived into the comedy mosh pit (yep I’m old) and threw some elbows. Being offended, even when it’s warranted, won’t change minds. A sharp, hilarious comeback will.

  • register

    well, as evidenced by sarah's employment as a comedy writer, clearly equal opportunity will not get us funnier women in comdey.

  • http://killhurt.com Kat Bee

    I had to make an account just to comment on this. I graduated from a well-known film school with a BFA in screenwriting this past May with the full intention of entering the comedy writing world. In fact, I STILL want to do it, it's not that I've given up, but let me explain —

    Sarah, I totally appreciate this article and I am insanely jealous of your success as a writer. But I took issue with your claims that not enough girls are TRYING to enter comedy. No insult to you, but from my experiences, women who make it in the writing world tend to forget that, yes, there are LOT of other women trying to write in this town, focusing on comedy or otherwise — there's no shortage. At. All.

    In fact, most of the girls I graduated with aspired to be comedic writers — myself included. None of us have writing jobs because those are just hard to come by in general when you're 22/23 and don't have "friends in high places" because you've been working your ass off in college for the past 4 years. I can say, though, that perhaps a lot of us gave up pursuing jobs in writing comedy because of how our work is received. I once was writing a dark, scathingly funny mid-life crisis comedy and a professor told me that I should consider turning it into a romantic comedy because (true quote) "that's the only kind of humor women tend to excel in." Like, WTF.

    I do appreciate the article — but part of me feels like the industry is making excuses for the men/women ratio disparity and isn't looking hard enough for the girls dying to break into ANY type of writing. Honestly, you can give me a ring and I can give you the names and phone numbers of 50+ talented and extremely funny girls out here in LA dying for our first writing gig.

  • berda

    I'm curious how many female writers splitsider employs?

    Also, not to start a flame war but in my limited experience I know many more funny boys than funny girls. I think that boys try harder as the article points out, but don't believe that they are inherently funnier. I think gender norms and general cultural reasons are why more women don't go into comedy, and it is pretty difficult to change the culture of a nation. I love women and think they are funny, but sexism still exists in America both in people creating television and in the audience. Sexism in the audience might be why boys are more successful at writing comedy.

    • http://splitsider.com Adam Frucci

      Splitsider has no employees, just me, but I aim for a 50/50 gender split for my contributors. I do get many more submissions from men than women, but I think I'm doing OK on that front despite that fact.

  • kerri
  • kerri

    Sarah I love you, but this article is not well researched and full of generalizations and opinions. You can't just take statistic from one websites applicants and think that is enough data to represent the industry. Especially if said website got famous for having lots of naked young women on it (i just want to add i love collegehumor and the content it puts out).
    Women in comedy is a very complex issue and this article doesn't even begin to tackle it. It just makes the conclusion that since there are more men in comedy than women that is because women aren't trying. No it's not 50/50 men to women, but it's getting better. And there are certainly probably a thousand factors that go into it and not trying may or may not be on the top of list. You are a comedy writer not a socialogist.
    I encourage you to experience more comedy and I believe your opinion will change fast. There are a lot a lot a lot of female comics out here. A lot. I can email you 10,000 names tomorrow if you would like, no joke. And we're growing. We are trying!
    I know you thought you were helping but I think you are just giving everyone a false impression of comedy world. That poor 15 year old above who said "i just cant believe that more women arent even trying!". And you didn't even correct her broke my heart. Just because you havent hear us doesn't mean we're not screaming.

    Sarah, please do more research when you're writing an article that might influence people. You do not have nearly enough data in this article to begin to make conclusions and it seems apparent that you haven't experienced the comedy world in depth. I hope dig deeper into the world of women comedy. It's out there and not that hard to find.
    I'm going to go listen to some Maria Bamford.

    • kerri

      urgh, lots of grammar mistakes. i meant sociologist.

    • Sarah Schneider

      Hey Kerri,
      I actually think that what I posited in my article is much more harmless than this. And I don't suppose that one website speaks for the industry, I was just sharing my personal experience as an example of what I was talking about.
      I totally agree that women in comedy is a very complex issue, but I take mild offense that you boiled down my entire article into "there are more men in comedy because women aren't trying." I know women are trying! I was just pointing out more men are trying than women, which I think is pretty hard to argue with. And I definitely don't think that's the only reason for the imbalance. I suppose I should have been clearer about this, so for that I apologize.
      It's weird to me that you've divided me from yourself and the 10,000 female comedians you assume I've never considered or heard of. I'm experiencing the same things as you, I'm in the same world, and I wouldn't have written this article if I didn't think I understood it enough to do so.

  • http://twitter.com/wordsmithwesson wordsmithandwesson

    Consider my ass blistered!

  • uronmytoe

    This is something I have thought about for a long time. When I was a teenager, I noticed that for guys, the easiest way to be cool was to be strong, athletic, or good looking. Lacking those traits, the next best way to be popular was to be funny. A lot of guys were as competitive at being funny as the jocks were at sports. Why? Because if you ask almost any woman in America what she wants in a man, one of the first things she lists is "a sense of humor." Just think of how many times you have read that in magazines from Playboy to Cosmo. Men also want women to have a sense of humor, but what they usually mean by that is that they want a woman who will laugh at their jokes.

    There is a certain aggressiveness to being funny. You don't see many female comedy writers because it is culturally accepted for men to be aggressive, but not for women. Most women find other subjects to excel in and find social acceptance.

    • brosefk

      I'm going to agree with this guy/gal.

      I think men by the very nature of our biological imperatives and primary function in this world, namely to pursue, cajole, and ultimately proliferate are more competitive than women. And this drive to differentiate lends itself to flamboyant displays of value. Most women express that they prefer a man who is physically superior either in form or function or is entertaining. Ideally, he is both. In order to mate, dudes need to have one or the other. I don't want to be cruel to my fellow comedy brothers, but a lot of comedians tend to lack certain physical attributes which are associated with the desirable alpha male. If you have a bird chest and spindly sticks, you'd better start working on some ha-ha bits.

      Women are competed for, typically. Not the other way around. Again, before anyone jumps on my neck and starts curb stomping, there's a difference between biological imperatives and culture mores.

      I think comedy is competitive by its very nature and men tend to be more competitive. Not because they are superior, gifted with some innate brilliance that is beyond the reach of the "lesser" species, but just because of our hormone ratio, and about 200,000 years of homo sapiens evolution. Homo rhodesiensis was not funny. Everyone knows that.

      Also, the Hitchens jab? I don't think he was serious. I adore Hitchens and I'm pretty sure he was just stirring shit up for no good reason. He always has that twinkle in his eye and I think he was just trolling to see how many ladies he could get worked up. If anything, his real thesis was that MANY women — but not all — can't take a joke (but even that, I don't think he'd pursue with any zeal). The "women aren't funny" thing was just bait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Daniel/100001605972792 Alex Daniel

    I'm very impressed by your article. Certainly comedic and expresses a valid serious standpoint as well. I'd just like to say that not only did I enjoy your article but I really like your work in College Humor as well. Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-McAdam/778395144 Stephen McAdam

    wasn't funny.

  • brosefk

    Boners are comedy's biceps.

  • brosefk

    One other thing… Splitsider, can you caption your photos? If not directly than at least in the ALT attribute of the IMG tag, when I do a mouseover. Who those people be? I don't know. Faces recognized, but names escape me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Violet-Krumbein/593541921 Violet Krumbein

    Great article Sarah!

  • Tomboy Tarts

    Found this too late and yes, we're from Asia and can you imagine the comedy situation here? Awful! And in English? Take the ratios and blend them into your next dish. But I have to agree that even here in Asia, a lot of women are going up there and trying their hand in comedy. It's still a fairly new idea here but definitely not NOT done. We've got a few key cool icons from Hong Kong, Singapore, India and S.Korea. Overall, however, in key markets like the US where the competition in comedy is unbelievable, I think strength comes from relentless pursuit. Someone like Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham are successfuly only because they are writing 24-7. They have to. That's how they earned their stripes. There is no dearth of female talent. It's just that like anything else. When you're pursuing a craft or trying to attain some level of mastery, you gotta keep at it, no matter how bad your circumstances are so the questions now to ask is 1. What are doing on a global scale to get more women into the door and keep them there? and 2. What are the women already working in the industry doing to bring more talent in and 3. How do we keep women in the industry, working and motivated over a longer period of time because for most of us, life gets in the way. What are the solutions for that?