The documentary 'women aren't funny'. Is it true or not

I saw thison netflix yesterday. It is about whether female comedians are as good as males.

I would say no, but I can think of a list of reasons. I disagree with the idea that women aren’t funny at all, however female comedians I’ve seen generally aren’t as good as male comedians. The only truly funny female comedian I can think of is Kathleen Madigan. But if she were a male she’d be just another good comedian. Kind of like how if Larry Bird were black, he’d just be another good basketball player.

A list of reasons why I think female comedians aren’t as good.

  1. There are far fewer in comedy. The documentary said only about 10% of comedians are women. When you factor in that many male comedians aren’t that good (maybe a fraction of all comedians are good) the same applies to women. So yeah I can’t name a ton of good female comedians, but I can name less than a dozen consistently good male comedians by my standards. So maybe that ratio should be about 9:1 in favor of males since there is a much bigger talent pool of men.

However even female headliners or famous female comedians aren’t too good, which brings me to point 2.

  1. I think for male comedians it doesn’t matter how you look as long as you are funny. I am under the impression if you are a female comic, you have to be at least fuckable looking to break through certain barriers. Look at all the reasonably well known female stand up comedians. Amy Schumer, Morgan Murphy, (young) Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, Iliza Shlesinger, Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Peretti, Maria Bamford, Kathy Griffin, Janeane Garofolo, Whitney Cummings, Natasha leggero, etc. Every one of them is at least ‘hot enough that I’d notice her in a room’ looking. It reminds me of a Bill Burr bit about how all the female musicians are hot, him talking about how there have to be some ugly women who are good at music. The same applies to comedy.

When I think of truly good male comedians I think of Louis CK, Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, George Carlin, etc. None of them are models. If women ran society and they refused to let any man who wasn’t at least ‘fuckable’ become famous, they’d be nobodies and the famous comedians would be people like Daniel Tosh or John Mulaney, who I don’t consider nearly as good.

So as a society do we not care about a woman’s talent as a comedian unless she is pretty enough to notice her? The women I listed earlier range from cute to hot, but every one is at least pretty. There are tons of well known non-handsome male comedians.

There are a few non-pretty female stand up comics, but they seem to be the exception.

  1. What female comedians talk about isn’t something I relate to. If I watched Louis CK’s stuff in my teen years I wouldn’t get it. Now that I’m older and life has broken my spirit I find him hilarious. Heterosexual female comics may be hilarious to straight women and gay men, but since I’m neither I don’t get it as most of what they talk about is dating stuff from a woman’s POV. Maybe that is it.

Tina Fey says ‘Hi.’, and that you’re completly wrong.

That list doesn’t explain why female comedians aren’t as funny. The first explains that there’s a smaller pool. The second explains why there’s a smaller pool (greater barrier). And the third explains why it’s the kind of humor that might not appeal to you personally. So…tell us again why women aren’t as funny?

How am I wrong? elaborate.

I have found that far and away, the comedians that appeal to me most are women and I actively dislike many of the popular male comedians. I don’t know what that means.

Funny is subjective. Part 3 is important because what many mainstream female comedians talk about is stuff I really can’t relate to.

So you basically have one item, which explains why they’re not funny to you…

Was the movie specifically about stand-up comedians? Tina Fey’s never done stand-up AFAIK (though some of the things she has done, like anchoring SNL’s Weekend Update, are arguably in the same ballpark).

What most people think of as objectively funny is stuff that men find funny. It doesn’t matter whether women also find it funny as well. However, if something is funny only to women, it isn’t considered objectively funny, and is “women’s humor,” or something. I can name tons of women comics who do great political stuff, and social commentary, but out of a 60 minute set, they may have six minutes on women’s issues, and so they are doing “women’s humor,” and play to mostly female audiences (I have seen some really hilarious stuff at the Women’s Music Festivals, where a couple of nights have at least one comic as part of the set).

There are some male comics I like-- I love John Mulaney (his TV show hurts me very much), but he does a lot of material that would be funny whether a man or a woman were doing it, and the few bits that are man-specific (like accidentally chasing down a woman in the subway) are things a woman can easily understand and relate to, because he understands the woman’s perspective.

On the whole, my favorite comics are women: Wanda Sykes, Kate Clinton, Sarah Silverman. I think Wanda Sykes is the best comic performing in the US right now.

Also, Dorothy Parker says “Hi.” OK, she wasn’t a stand-up comic, but anyone who thinks women aren’t funny is clearly not familiar with her work.

Does that mean Larry the Cable Guy is a girl?

I found Kate Clinton randomly on Netflix years ago and laughed myself sick. At the time it was the only performance of hers I could find recorded. I wonder if that’s changed now.

I don’t know if they’re universally beloved but I also enjoy Kathleen Madigan and Sarah Millican.

I think men tend to be naturally more intimidating than women, but you can’t go around always being intimidating, so the ability to play the clown and make people laugh and put them at ease is probably a successful adaptation for men.

Women can be funny, but I could see men being a bit more inclined towards making other people laugh. Growing up, it seemed the class clown was usually a male. Not always, but usually.

I think the relative rarity of women comedians explains almost all of it, with the “oh, and you have to be hot” coming second. I don’t think the gender barriers are as thick as you think; I’m female, and I find male comedians who do guy-centric comedy (like Louis CK) funny* (although I’d rank Mulaney’s standup higher). You, personally, might find it hard to relate, but I don’t think it’s an issue on a large scale.

I remember reading awhile back that audiences rated a joke told by a man far funnier than the same joke told in the same way by a woman. There might be some of that type of sexism involved, but again, I think the smaller pool of women pretty much explains it.

*This actually leads into a whole 'nother conversation about how women adapt to, say, connect with male protaginists in novels and movies, but men do so at lesser rates due to a decreased need to, but I’ll put my feminist side away for now. :smiley:

Gracie Allen. Even George said she was the funny one.

wiki :The Burns and Allen act began with Allen as the straight man, setting up Burns to deliver the punchlines — and get the laughs. In his book Gracie: A Love Story Burns later explained that he noticed Allen’s straight lines were getting more laughs than his punchlines, so he cannily flipped the act over —- he made himself the straight man and let her get the laughs. Audiences immediately fell in love with Allen’s character, who combined the traits of stupidity, zaniness, and total innocence.
It is true that women dont gravitate to Stand-up like males do, and perhaps that *could *be that men are better at it. :dubious:

But there are many very funny female comediennes. Admittedly, a few specialize in tickling the female funny-bone.

Tina Fey’s acceptance speech for the Mark Twain prize is one of the funniest speeches I’ve seen - I laughed hard the whole way through.,d.eXY

I’d put it against anything Mulaney or Louis C. K. does, (OK-I think Mulvaney is flat and boring, but Louis C. K. is funny), despite it being a “speech”, rather than standard stand up.

But the title of your OP is asking whether the documentary title is correct. Not “do you relate to female comedians” or “do you laugh at female comedians’ jokes” but just “Female comedians aren’t funny: True or false?”

If that’s not what you meant to be asking, you made a huge misstep in your title, and continued in the same direction throughout the body of your post.

Most funny women go into writing, acting, or hosting. For some reason stand-up isn’t where they gravitate towards. I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts, and just from them I can list about twenty funny female comedians I really enjoy. Add to that another thirty or so actors who are hilarious, then the premise of women being not funny falls into the same category as “women aren’t good at maths or science” as being utter bullshit.

I was actually pretty disappointed with the “Cocumentary”, on all fronts: it wasn’t funny or entertaining, it wasn’t informative, it provided no real analysis, it did a poor job of giving an insider’s view of the industry, and it poorly expressed any of the personal stories it touched on. I suspect a great number of people could have handled the task better, man or woman, but that a woman could potentially have handled it better in ways that a man would struggle with (due to perspective and cultural awareness, and not because I’m buying into a stereotype - or so I believe).

I know this thread is about the question rather than the film, but I wanted to get that out there.

Humor is very subjective, but I think it’s absolutely clear that many, many women are at least as funny as many of the funniest men, and that this likely holds true for most people (although the lists of women and men will vary in length and content for each person).

It would be interesting to study why there is such a gender disparity when it comes to representation in comedy (especially standup); some of the probable reasons have been mentioned upthread.

I’d also be interested in nailing down where the phrase, “women aren’t funny” comes from, and when. My guess is it comes from (or became (more) popular during) the explosion of standup comedy in the eighties and nineties, which was a less-enlightened time generally, and during which we would have seen an even greater degree of the factors mentioned upthread. Plus, at that time there would have been, of course, even fewer women who had broken barriers and challenged mores, which is something that a lot of male comics had already been able to do successfully.

Finally, I wonder if feminist spoken-word acts or one-woman-shows plays into this somehow, as that stuff might come across to some as if it were women trying to do comedy, when actually they were doing something else, but with humor (to varying degrees of intent and success, of course).

I absolutely do not relate to the OP’s opinion. I don’t watch as much stand-up as I used to (back in the 80s-90s heyday of Evening At The Improv) but I definitely remember Caroline Rhea, Ellen Degeneres, Rosanne Barr, etc, rolling me on the floor.

This is where it is for me, especially true if you look past stand up and into sitcoms and comedy films. Too many hilariously funny women to name, going back to the silent film era!