"Women aren't funny."

I feel extremely overwhelmed starting this piece of writing. I fear red hot lasers may shoot from my fingertips and melt my precious Macbook. I fear I may not cover all points intelligently and succinctly enough. I want to write it so well, I want you to all read this and have it ignite a fire within and perhaps change a few minds but I fear it may all turn into a steaming pile of ranty poo.

I will open proceedings with the following statement: I love comedy. I am a comedy nerd. I hang out with comedians. I work with comedians I’m a “gag hag” if you will.

I especially love female comedians.

Let me reel off some of my favourite gals:

I know I will have missed some brilliant ladies, there are so many.

So we’ve established I feel overwhelmed at what I am about to tackle and that I love comedians of the female persuasion.

Deep breath Em.

When I hear a man say “I don’t find women funny” or “Women can’t be funny”  I am filled with a red hot rage that burns like the heat of 1000 suns in the depths of hell. Shamefully enough, on the odd occasion, I have also heard a woman say “I just don’t think women can be funny.”

Last night on Twitter I found myself ranting Kanye style after a male colleague stated there were no funny females IN THE WORLD. Big call.

What followed were mostly tweets of disgust from my followers at his statement but what also cropped up was some of my male followers saying that all female comics talk about is menstruation, men and mothering.

I’m not kidding.

When I read things like this I wonder how Ben and others like him manage to put their pants on in the morning. Is this a common held belief? If you are a man reading this, look deep into your heart. Do you think women can be funny? DO YOU?!

I wonder how extensive Ben’s research is on the topic of female stand-ups? I wonder how many he has seen live? I also wonder when Ben was ordained King of Comedy. Because surely only the preordained king of comedy could be allowed to write off AN ENTIRE GENDER and their comedic ability.

In 2007 Christopher Hitchens wrote an article for Vanity Fair with the delightful title: “Why women aren’t funny.”

I think my favourite part was when Chris said that ladies don’t need to bother being funny as they have boobs and stuff to attract men so why bother with words … Ok, so he didn’t EXACTLY say that. He said:

“Women have no need to appeal to men in this way – if you catch my drift.”


Among other things Christopher insinuated that women only use comedy to attract men. Of course! It all makes perfect sense. I know I only perform in the hope of impressing and trapping a man, that’s definitely why Ellen Degeneres does it right?

Just when you think he can’t get any better, Christopher rips out this gem:

“MOST female comedians are hefty, dykey or Jewish.”

I know, what an enlightened man he was.

I’m not even going to bother with that one. Surely I don’t need to.

It’s no secret that comedy is a male dominated scene. It’s a burly, scary, tough world and in my experience you have to play by the boys’ rules because there are just so many of them. Men outnumber women on the comedy circuit a bazillion to 5 or something like that.

Comedy is for the brave which is ironic as a lot of comedians are a tower of insecurity needing laughter to bolster their fragile egos. (Same applies to performers, I include myself here.)

I think a lot of women are capable of delivering excellent stand-up but they lack the encouragement and confidence to actually do so. I have also observed that audiences are more tolerant of a man bombing on stage than a woman. I think women are expected to kill it and deliver every time otherwise they are deemed “un-funny” forever.

Last year comedian/writer/actor/producer/queen of awesomeness Tina Fey penned an excellent memoir called “Bossypants.”

Of working with the Saturday night live writers she wrote:

“Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.”

Interestingly enough Tina has a much more zen approach than I do to people who say women aren’t funny:

“When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism … ask yourself the following question: ‘Is this person in between me and what I want to do?’ If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

Good advice T (I like to pretend we are friends and that I call her T.)

Are women funny? Some are, not all.

Are men funny? Some are, not all.

I guess what I am ultimately trying to say is: let us judge what is and isn’t funny by what happens on stage not by what happens in our pants..

Wait. I can do better.

Let us not get hung up on the gender of a comedian. Funny is funny whether it has a bulge in it’s pants or in it’s top.

Just don’t say anything wanky like: “Women can’t be funny.” It’s beneath you.

Em Rusciano appears  on Network Ten’s ’7pm Project’ and the Nine Network’s Mornings with Kerri Anne, You should follow her on Twitter here and read her blog here. No really you should

Who is your favourite funny lady?