An article that appeared on National Post (Canada) shocked the North American comedy circles so much in the last days that they’re now abuzz with comments and opinions about how women are represented or rather underrepresented in stand-up comedy and in case they do appear on stage, whether they really need to appear sexually unattractive in order to be funny or not.
Now, since there’re so many things wrong with such intentionally controversial and generalized statements like those that appear in that article I would rather not dwell on that particular article, but I feel the need to point out something about the whole debate of wether women are funny or not at all. The problem is that we still talk about women in general as a group, one that is homogenous, a minority among humans who are either this or that. Well women are not this or that, women represent more than 50% of human population and are so diverse in all aspects that it’s almost impossible in my opinion to talk about “women” as a group unless you talk from a strictly scientific/biological point of view. This is also the main problem of modern feminism; it just cannot really define who are “the women” it’s supposed to represent. (But this would be good material for a whole different debate..) So can’t we just stop talking about “women in stand-up comedy”, or “women in the airline industry” or “women doing this and that…”? That would be Kate, Jane, Tamara.. and who knows who else doing this and that. So what if some women represent less then ideal characters in their stand-up performances? Isn’t stand-up supposed to be funny because we hear about stuff that can happen to everyone, and stuff that are usually unpleasant so we can at least have a good laugh about it? Also who defines “attractive”? This is such an old debate, it’s hard to believe we’re still talking about it. And if we do, why not talk about “men in stand-up” or “men doing this and that”? Or men being or not being “attractive” for that matter. Maybe it’s so because it doesn’t matter that much when we talk about someone being funny or not?
Women are hard to be found in the entertainment industry in general due to a lot of social issues that everyone knows about. (Not counting in the actresses and the such.) But talking about women as a group of minority among a sea of men is still wrong, even if it’s true, as it just strengthens the bias. Do we really need that? And for God’s sake stop the debate on attractiveness for the same exact reasons.
I don’t think of myself as a “woman artist”. I’m an artist, if anything. And that’s a huge difference.
Mind the rhetoric.