Long day ahead, but I can’t not address the latest public outcry regarding some misguided public figure stating that women just aren’t funny. The fairly lame argument that is often put up to refute this kind of thing is that there are fewer female comedians, but I’m not sure citing that almost-statistic helps; there definitely are some hideously bad female comedians, and I don’t think the proportion of good:bad is any different from in male comedian circles. For every Craig Ferguson, there are 10 Adam Carollas. And, because I’m a hypocrite and a coward, I won’t come up with a female analogy lest I be accused of hating my fellow woman.
Tina Fey, who is brilliant and amazing and created a character that I can almost wholeheartedly relate to, being a spinster who likes to pretend she’s in charge and all, even if my boss is no Jack Donaghy (he’s a bit more like a non-evil Hank Scorpio), has said that the only real difference between men and women comedy writers is that men pee in jars and sometimes leave them around the office. Which is to say that the differences might be gross, but they are superficial.
I admit that I watch a helluva lot more comedy that comes out of the U.K. than the U.S., and I’m not really ‘into’ the current Canadian comedy circuit (I haven’t come across a standup, male or female, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed from here in a long time, sadly), but I want to do a mini-series of posts of incredibly clever, talented women who work in comedy or are just plain funny. You might have heard of some of them, but probably not all of them.
First up is not a ‘professional comedian’, but a brilliant writer and poker player, Victoria Coren. I’d love to be her when I grow up because she is clever, no-nonsense, and wrote the following in her fantastic book For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker about bonding with the (very) few women players at a London casino:
The ladies’ is silent, empty, calm. I’m either alone, or washing my hands next to Vicky and asking how her luck is going. I once burst into tears on her shoulder in there, when I was having boyfriend trouble. ‘Does he beat you?’ she asked sympathetically. I replied with an impressively middle-class, ‘Oh God, no! He just isn’t very forthcoming with his emotions.’
She has a (mostly) weekly column in The Observer, she hosts a ridiculously complicated quiz show and the absolutely MARVELLOUS Radio 4 programme Heresy, and is very funny to boot. The stereotypical female response would be mad envy and perhaps publicly expressed hatred, but mostly I just want to be her.
Here she is talking about the U.K’s ‘Pasty Tax’ and posh politicians on Question Time.
Here she is on an episode of Have I Got News For You, ‘holding her own’ (if you want to put it that way) against four men. Including Mr Dreamy Benedict Cumberbatch.
And here she is on The Bubble with her now-fiance David Mitchell, just because I think it’s lovely that they’re getting married and that they only confirmed that they were a couple via their engagement announcement in The Times. Classy.
She also has an official website with other clever things and she’s on Twitter too. Unfortunately, she’s probably a tad too intellectual for Mr Carolla to think she’s funny. Ah well. Like his opinion matters in the long run.