Feminism Revisited

I am having a bee in my bonnet about the state of womanhood. I have been conversing with a friend and we have both realized that it's just in the last couple of years that this anger at the situation has been building. That we had both left it behind in our early twenties, but it has reared again, and fiercely. What we as women are contending with as well as the role models we are provided, is, in short, fucked. That was a terrible sentence, but I'm sleepy and the point is just to get it off my chest. I have not perfected it.

Listen, I don't want to get into the global issues, all I want to talk about is my recent sojourns back into the standup comedy world. I don't know if I didn't care before, or if it's because I took time away from it and spent more time in the theatre/improv/sketch world here, but, whatever the source, I am mad. I don't know why it has taken me so long to recognize the straight, white, maleness of the standup community, and the complete lack of interest on the part of the straight, white males to make it any different. You see, a male comedian can dress how he wants, shlubby or stylish, or whatever, and still be thought of as a great comic. But a woman can be smart, funny, wicked, engaging and an all around great comic and not be considered great until she puts on knee high boots, a short skirt and a cleavage exposing top. Now, those of you who know me know I like to look pretty, and certainly like to play up the tit factor, but that's my own business. I don't think it should have any bearing on my talents. Not that I've noticed it yet for my own self, but coming off the Fringe festival, where I have seen so many bold, beautiful, moving and hilarious performances by women, and where I was around so many women, and the improv scene where there are so many women I and our male cohorts respect....then showing up at comedy nights again, and it's really, really different. I am having reservations about diving into it again. I don't like being told by all these boys how it should be done. I guess that leaves it to me to do it my way, though I'm not sure what that is yet. Plus, I'm not sure how to turn this mad into funny. I think I'll ask my dad.

Somehow I thought writing a little of this down would help, but I'm still mad. I haven't even addressed my despair at women allowing themselves to be whorish all over the cover of magazines and the tv. Ich. That's a blog entry for another time.

Power to the People.

Sisters....we gotta get it together.



Sword Play said...

I'm reading a book on the comics of the 60s and cuurently am on the Joan Rivers chapter. She was one of the first "pretty" stand up comics. Before her funny and pretty really didn't go together in the stand up world. She did a lot of the same material as Phyllis Diller but where Diller would say, "I'm so ugly I...", River would say, "When I was a girl I was so ugly I...". Same joke but River's could have her cake and eat it too, doing the ugly joke but looking pretty now.

Later she turned that on other targets and it became, "So and so is so ugly that..." while she got freakish cosmetic surgery after surgery.

What I find when I see open mike night comics is a "Please like me" vibe. For both guys and gals good material will make this happen. But since no one starts off great and a crowd not liking you stings, you can fall into the trap of using short cuts, a lot of the same ones as in high school. With guys it's picking on those that are smaller than you which often translates into gay and racial jokes. With gals it's making yourself look hot so here come the boots and the push up bras. High school, high school, high school.

Both the gay jokes and the boob focus are hack bits that take the place of having a solid act and make an audience like you for the wrong reasons. Great comics have to think less about being liked and more about being funny and true.

DJ said...

If stand up is what you want to do - don't let obsticles, like 'stereo types and prejudices' get you down! Do what you love!

I immediately thought of Ellen, she's one of the funniest commedians I know - and YES she's had her career probs but she's awsome. She never resorted to thigh high boots and push up bras (at least not that I know of).

If you make them laugh word will get out AND if you make them laugh, they will love you! :-D

Infidelia said...

I have no worries about being funny, or the audience liking me. That's not really where I'm going with this. It's more the culture that I'm wondering if I want to immerse myself in. And the part where I see men that I like, good men, getting complacent and curmudgeonly by being so immersed in it themselves. And that it never occurs to them to push the envelope and do it differently...that across the board they feel they have to play by the rules to acheive something, too. I think it holds us ALL back. Comedy is so much more, and I wish comedians were the first ones to see it, but we're not. Now I'm going to go tell some lame jokes tonight and feel frustrated that I'm not changing the world.

Sword Play said...

They don't push the envelope because they don't have to. They get their fix of laughs while being mediocre. I see the ads for Comedy Now specials and they always show a joke the comic does, the best joke they could get. And they always, always, always are lame.
But that's fine if you want to be a good comic. A good comic can get by on mediocre, headline at clubs, tour, make a living with their work but still be a big hack. To be a great comic you have to be different and that doesn't equal acceptance. Most comics want acceptance and so they tap into the vibe that was already there before them. That's why when I saw a pro-am night after about 10 years it was still the same...

Guy does gay joke but puts it in the mouth of another character so he gets the laugh for both the joke AND the comeback that shows he's not a homophobe.

The Mom who does sex jokes and dresses like she's out for a night at the Ritz.

The ethnic comic who pretends he doesn't know english very well then half way through the act says, "I don't really talk like that. Why do all white folks think we talk like that?".

The guy with an audience full of his friends who isn't all that funny but packed the room and gets by on charm.

The not very funny girl who is fucking a male comic and is looked down on by the other comics who also would like to "tour" with her.

The comic who talks about his girlfriend and when imitating her makes her voice sound like the same whiny sterotype comics always use.

The drunk MC or in this case the MC complaining they don't let him drink on stage.

The impressionist who does those impressions you've heard over and over again. Christopher Walken working at McDonalds? Awesome.

The resentful guy whose been around a long time and doesn't give a damn what the audience thinks because if they don't his act they're stupid. He can be seen getting high fived by the other comics after his dismal set.

And so on...

It's hard to be new but you have to at least try.

RAGE GIRL! said...

Lead. Don't follow.

Really, that's it. Live how you want the world to be in order to show the world how it can be.

And yes I just quoted the tv show Angel. Sue me.