I auditioned for a comedy club today. In order to receive notes from the sweet older gentleman booking the show, I sat through a long afternoon of watching other comics audition along with pals Jim Coughlin and Natisha Anderson. Unfortunately, we were eventually subjected to the not-so-unusual opportunity of watching one comic recount all the many ways he ejaculates on his sexual partners…FUNNY STUFF! (ironic/sarcastic tone).
I think I’d rather wade through sewage than go through that again, but unfortunately such experiences seem to be one of the many prices to pay for any kind of stage time in Los Angeles. [INTERESTING SIDE-NOTE: Sometimes the comics spewing the most horrific misogyny on stage are the shyest, most painfully vulnerable men in Real Life. So while I may want them off the stage, I don’t really have the heart to hate.]
It goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that stand up comedy is a man’s game. I’m going to guess that 90% of comics are dudes, though, I don’t know the real stats. I just know that when I’m at an open mic with 20 comics, 2 of them are women. Yesterday, there were about 30 comics and 3 of us were women. It makes sense. There’s nothing “ballsier” and more worthy of the testosterone hormone than standing in front of a group of people and saying, “I can make you laugh…or at least react, illicit some emotion.”
Sometimes male comics fall into the nerdy, Woody Allen-types, but far too many (for my tastes) fall into the category of Screaming Into The Mic Frustrated Male. I never understood the “Angry Comic” appeal, maybe for the same reason I never understood Heavy Metal or violent rap music. Maybe testosterone makes you yell, I don’t know, I’m a girl. I have a floral duvet and a white couch (yes, that’s right it has stayed white for ten years). I like the color pink and really dry jokes that border on the absurd, or reference F Scott Fitzgerald or home appliances. I don’t know why there aren’t more comics aspiring to be like Kevin Nealon or Steve Martin, except that maybe that style belongs to another generation.
If comedy veers towards angry mysoginy, I don’t solely blame men. Women also have a say in what kind of comedy becomes popular. Generally speaking, I think women have been brainwashed to think that it’s cool to tolerate, or even pretend to enjoy strip clubs, porn, and violent imagery towards women in music, comedy, and TV/film. And for whatever reason women who go to comedy clubs with their boyfriends and watch “Blue” comedy (i.e., guys screaming about how they ejaculated on their large breasted girlfriends) will suppress or ignore the urge to get up and leave. If women refused to watch such styles of comedy, let alone laugh or have anything to do with it, I’d like to think that the number of comics who perform those jokes would go down. But I have no proof, this being a very unscientific blog post based on personal experience of stepping in and out of comedy over the course of 15 years.
Most of my current female comic inspirations are women I’ve known for years. The majority of female comic Types fall into two categories: lesbian/a-sexual women (Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopee Goldberg), and heterosexual women who overtly sexualize themselves (Sarah Silverman and the majority of young female comic coming up). I respect all women who do comedy, but I sometimes feel the same sadness and gag reflex when I hear female comics degrading their sexuality as I do when guys do it. Overall, it can be pretty abysmal, demoralizing and I know that I’m sane because I question my pursuit of this every week. (Actually, technically, I “quit” every week and, since I’m not getting paid and nobody really cares, I re-hire myself the following week).
On the drive back from the audition, Natisha and I talked about comedy and ways to create environments safe for women to find their comedic voices. If I didn’t know women like Natisha, Maria Bamford, and many others, I would probably quit for good. But the authenticity and talent of the women in a small but committed population sometimes brings tears to my eyes and inspires me to get up…one more time.
Just for today, I’m still a comic.