Comedy, unfortunately like so many other fields, is dominated by men. It is a rarity to see an all-female lineup at many comedy clubs, yet commonplace to have an all-male cast for the evening. But there’s something to be said for female comics—whether it’s Roseanne Barr, Margaret Cho, or Janeane Garofalo, they know how to deliver the punch lines, but they often provide something more. And no, it’s not a penis-hating agenda. They show comedy from a female perspective. The proverbial “dick and fart jokes” that often dominate comedy are presented in a completely different manner.
Many of these comedians are quick to identify the numerous differences between men and women (to men’s deficit)—although not all of them are so quick to walk down that path. Some do impressions; others look at social issues such as addictions, crime, and racial differences. And of course, what’s a slew of female comedians with at least a few menstrual jokes, right? But their jokes and thoughts can bring up more poignant observations about the battle of the sexes or institutions that men may take for granted. That’s not to say every female comedian is feminist with an agenda, microphone, and a decent delivery. Many of the skits herein don’t necessarily politicize their performances, but those that do manage it with taste and intelligence.
Take for instance Funny Ladies—four great episodes with some fantastic bits from some of America’s greatest female comedians. While there may be some repetition of skits if you listen to all four pieces, the jokes are just as good the second time around. Whether talking about body image, husband/wife differences, politics, language differences, or, of course, the quintessential topic, sex, these ladies show no reserve and hesitation in their performance. For instance, Andrea Martin’s response to the argument that a raped women was asking for it is to shoot an ugly man, “because he was asking for it.” Now in some of the bits, the listener will miss out since some skits include physical humor, but usually one’s imagination can fill in the blanks well enough.
The “extreme” in XXXtreme Comedy – The Women definitely stands for extreme laughs. Performed at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas and hosted by Andrea Abbate, this show gets down and dirty. Felicia Michaels, the self-professed Diva of Dick Jokes, delivers a side-splitting dissertation on penises and vaginas that could make Eve Ensler blush. These women hold no bars and in fact raise the bar on indecency with their acts covering incest, abortion, infidelity, bodily humor, and much more. Not for the faint of heart,and better for the morally deprived than the morally engorged.
The Latino Women of Comedy features skits that are a bit longer than the other programs mentioned herein. Although identified in the title, and implicated by the names and some accents, the fact that these comedians are Latino bears little influence on their performance. That is, the vast majority of their jokes traverse the same ground previously mentioned comedians cover. One or two of the comedians mention Latinos in their jokes, but the focus is comedy, not ethnicity.
Now Heidi Joyce’s Comedy Stand Up Against Domestic Violence is a two-hour tour-de-force of lesser known but equally funny female comedians on stage for five to ten minutes, delivering punch lines that may make you sore in the morning but would definitely not be considered domestic violence. This may have been a result of editing or maybe it’s how the cards fell, but while this piece sounds like it is a charity event, barely any mention is made to the event itself. Each comedian rallies up to the stage after the next ,and none of them stop to make any kind of social commentary on domestic violence. Instead, these ladies of laughter tackle racial differences, prescription drugs, divorce, and other tough topics, producing chuckle after chuckle.
When it comes to the price tag, the Funny Ladies episodes are the only one that falls short. When you buy all four episodes, you will discover some overlap with the skits, making you wonder if they forgot or there just wasn’t enough material for four episodes each with unique material. The argument could be made that a cheap price should be available for someone who buys all four. Otherwise, you’re paying over fifty dollars for less than four hours of audio listening. Certainly not the most effective way to spend one’s money.
Regardless, all these acts reinforce the truth that is so hard to come by: girls can do it just a good as boys, if not better. More than likely, these women have had to work twice as hard to get where they are, which means they really are on top of their game not just as representatives of their sex, but also as professionals in comedy.