Men may appear to dominate the comedy scene, but a strong female presence has yet to make the genre stand up
So, I fancy myself as a bit of a witty lass. And not wanting to be accused of tooting my own horn, I’m confident that I am just as funny, if not more so, than many of my male friends.
You only have to tap ‘Top Ten Funny Female Comedians’ into YouTube to be reminded of the plethora of female comics out there.
Research suggests that as we modern career women continue to give male colleagues a run for their money on that career ladder, we’re also threatening them on the oh–so-important “office banter” stakes. Yes, it turns out that women can spin a casual pun as well as the next chap. Shocking, I know. So if women are just as funny as men in real life, why is there still such a lack of comedic ladies striking the big-time in stand-up?
So let us take a look at the five comediennes taking the industry by storm. I’m talking about those gals at the top of their game; why they’re so great and whether they are enough to break even with men.
First up is South London’s very own, Josie Long. A stand-up comic since the tender age of 14, Long impressively nabbed the BBC New Comedy Awards when she was just 17. This Oxford graduate regularly adorns the Edinburgh Fringe festival as well as the worldwide stage. Long has stacked up a whopping six solo tours. Some of her favourite points of discussion include politics and social justice – although her musings on such things are considered, by some, slightly naïve and even stereotypical. According to some reviews, Josie’s ranting about budget cuts and the economic climate left certain audience members feeling less than inspired.
Miranda Hart is the woman responsible for the multi-award winning eponymous sitcom which has the nation divided. Hart won Best Comedy Actress at the Comedy Awards in 2011, where Miranda scooped Best New British TV Comedy. Her use of subtly sexualised humour is replaced by good old-fashioned slapstick! As a big fan of Miranda, I must admit that I think I am laughing at her, rather than the script. She’s clumsy, embarrassing and socially incapable – and the sketches are often very clichéd. In short, Miranda is all about good clean fun, and the one adult comedy show you can safely watch with your grandma without too many rude bits. Other TV appearances include parts in Absolutely Fabulous, The Vicar of Dibley, and Not Going Out.
American writer, actress, musician and comedian, Sarah Silverman, is famous for her satirical comedy whereby she tackles social taboos. Her onscreen career was kicked off with her successful appearances on Saturday Night Live, which led to her producing and starring in The Sarah Silverman Program – the show which saw her nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Silverman isn’t afraid of controversy. You may recall her jibes regarding Paris Hilton’s pending prison sentence – she’s got a nerve! She then went on to scoop a Creative Arts Emmy (2008) for writing the infamous “I’m Fucking Matt Damon”, making her a YouTube sensation, naturally.
Sarah Millican shot to television fame after winning the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A somewhat infuriating person – even when she is painfully irritating I want to like her. How does she do it? Besides her own, very popular, stand-up shows, Millican has appeared as a panellist on the likes of 8 out of 10 Cats, Have I Got News For You, QI, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. A lot of her material (particularly her earlier TV appearances) does come from her divorce – and although this isn’t exactly the most original subject matter, she brings her own unique insight and humour to the topic.
BAFTA award winning comedian, Jo Brand, can certainly give her new-to-the-scene rivals a run for their money. In 2003, Brand proved just that, and was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. So her somewhat dated jokes about childbirth and ‘being women’ do little for the female comic stereotype, but unlike many others, Jo Brand’s musings on life are relevant and intelligent. As a former psychiatric nurse and an active labour supporter, Brand is a quick-witted and well-rounded comedienne; you only have to look at her copious appearances as guest panel on the likes of QI to see that. And as for her monotone delivery of lines, well, they’re just the ticket!
So there you have it; the cream of the female comedy crop. And it’s a very diverse crop, much like that of our talented male counterparts. Here we have five intelligent, politically engaged (mostly), independent and inspiringly confident women – and all manage to moderate menstrual or child-birth-based gags. Hoorah!
So if it’s not the female talent that’s lacking, then perhaps it is the audience who are the problem. Are we simply more comfortable watching male comics, regardless of whether they’re funny or not? Perhaps intelligent, funny women are just too much to bear.
Featured image from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/comedy/2009/10/free-tickets---miranda-hart-writersroom-q-a.shtml
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