Are Women Wanting To Become Comedians At A Disadvantage?

I found an interesting article about stand-up comedy and women with this headline:

Is a workshop for women the way to break into the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy?

It kind of hit me the wrong way because it appears to imply that women don’t have the same opportunities in stand-up comedy as men, which is 100% bogus.

Here’s the real deal:

If you go to ANY stand-up comedy open mic, you will find that the folks who try to get stage time there are mostly men, not women.

So, if you really want to know why stand-up comedy is dominated by males, it’s because more of them actually show up to get on stage.

Now as far as needing a “special” stand-up comedy workshop for women as a means to learn how to develop a stand-up comedy routine…

Maybe this is a function of those Venus/Mars communication differences that have been so eloquently written about in the past.

But far more likely, this is a function of marketing — not the result of real need or actionable functionality.

And if you have read this blog for any period of time, you should understand how I feel about comedy workshops (which have a tendency to be largely worthless).

Here’s what I would tell ANY woman looking to jump into stand-up comedy:

1. Being a woman is never a valid excuse for a lack of comedy talent.

2. Because there are so few women who actually pursue stand-up comedy, there are actually more opportunities for funny women than men — provided they can actually deliver the goods on stage.

3. When you step on the stand-up comedy stage, you are on 100% equal ground with anyone else getting stage time from a results perspective, meaning that:

  • If you don’t actually have comedy talent to begin with, you cannot “write” your way to a better personality or headliner level material. That condition is NOT gender specific.
  • If you are not adequately prepared, you are destined to suck — just like every other open mic comedian who is not prepared is destined to suck regardless of race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation or home planet from another galaxy.
  • If you talk for 3 minutes before you get a laugh, that’s not stand-up comedy — you are giving a lecture (and you are bombing).
  • If you are not generating an average of 18+ seconds of laughter per minute on stage, you are not performing at headliner level.

Now for a different question…

Are women somehow predisposed to having a lack of comedy talent?

Given that talented women have risen to top levels in every possible area of entertainment, I would have to say absolutely not.

The key word in that last statement is “talented”.

You might want to take a look at this article about Killer Stand-up comedian Wendy Bax, who was able to deliver headliner level stand-up comedy material in just 9 performances.

And once again, let me make this perfectly clear:

Gender is no excuse for lack of comedy talent, no matter how convenient an excuse it may be.

If you do have comedy talent, go for your dreams and don’t let gender be a roadblock or a crutch.

And remember this:

“100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in.” A quote from hockey great Wayne Gretsky.

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3 Replies to “Are Women Wanting To Become Comedians At A Disadvantage?”

  1. The Showtime special, Why We Laugh: Funny Women produced by Joan Rivers, should dispel any myths about funny women. My mother was a teacher/humorist who got each of her kids to think funny. As a father of four daughters, all of whom are hilarious, and as an advocate for every woman I have taught in a 38 year career, the sexist views are similar to the history of other professions that were male dominated like physicians, lawyers, dentists, and so on. The face of those professions is changing. (My daughter’s current dental school class has more women than men). Right on… gender is no excuse. Women can and do kill.

  2. I am NOT sexist in any way shape or form. But I will say for the record, I have not found too many funny women comedians. Yet, my wife makes me laugh on a pretty frequent basis and she is a woman. My thoughts are related to the things Steve talks about on this blog and the Killer Stand-up Course. 1) They try to be funny rather than just be who they are in real life. 2) They joke about topics that men are clueless about like mammograms. 3) It’s more than just the topics, they joke about them in a manner that guys cannot relate to. I would love to find more women comedians that I like, but in order for me to like them, they need to make me laugh. Unfortunately, most don’t, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

  3. I’ve heard people in the audience sound disappointed and say ‘oh, it’s a woman’ when a female comedian walks on stage – where did the belief that women can’t be funny come from?

    I think you’re right that one of the reasons there aren’t more women in comedy is because there are less women who seem to want to do it. Perhaps due to the hours, travelling and types of venue as well as a certain kind of confidence/bravery required?

    However, there was a guy on twitter the other week asking for comics for an open night. After half an hour he tweeted that he had enough women! (I think he had 1).

    I’ll show ’em!