I have been working at comedy for a some time now, and I am proud of my small accomplishments in this field. I would say I am on par with my peers, and consider myself an excellent writer with decent performance skills. I have performed at both comedy and music festivals, and had a great time on some of the best showcase shows in LA. I’ve performed at numerous comedy clubs, theaters, bars etc all around the country. In my spare time I choose to watch comedy, or do comedy adjacent activities such as writing, filming sketches, or recording podcasts. Some older comedians even let me help out with their show, performing and hosting there regularly (this Sunday at 9PM @ chatterbox Covina with my favorite comedian Scott Luhrs headlining). I consider myself a very hard worker and try not to beat myself up when other people get opportunities that I want.
Each day I see work that inspires me from my friends and colleagues. Comedy is the thing I love to do the most. I even love open mics! I like to listen to other people’s jokes too and think about if I could make them funnier. Sometimes someone says something and it reminds me of a story from my childhood, or of a past love, or of a deceased family member. If it makes me laugh too, double points. I live for those moments. Sometimes I get to see my friends join the stage with grace and enjoy every moment like Bianca Cristovao does. I see something fearless fly from Alyssa Rusak. What a joy it is when Julia Loken saves me from a joke with no traction while we are on stage together. All of my friends are talented and funny, I count myself lucky.
Yesterday I stepped into an open mic where the energy coming from some of the men in the room felt exhausted. I find that often times people hold back from enjoying others’ sets at an open mic. Sometimes people talk in the back. Whether it be because of social reasons, personal stuff, because they just want to get on stage as soon as possible, or because they are burnt out, I’m not sure. I feel that women are taught to be polite and listen and thusly are more attentive or at least try to appear to be. Sometimes I think 20% of the men in the room are trying to have a bad time on purpose. They’ve somehow convinced themselves they are better than being at the open mic they are currently at, desperately waiting to get up. They no longer want to laugh. This happens with women sometimes too, but I think if you had to pick an audience, room full of boys or room full of girls, you’d probably choose the girls.
I love comedy more than any other thing I do. It is my favorite thing in the world. Before I went to the open mic last night, I thought about how I just wanted to have a good time doing comedy, watching it, and laughing along with my peers. I was happy to see a few of my favorite comedians (Brendan Cooney, Yusef Roach, Bianca Cristovao) at the mic, because they make me laugh and inspire me. Directly after my set (which I thought went pretty good) a comic (that I like and respect and this is not about burning someone or being shitty) did a joke about how women aren’t funny because they are trying their whole lives to be pretty. I don’t think the comic meant to be misogynistic, I think he was working towards something that honestly (if you’re reading this) I think it just isn’t there yet. Maybe he could get there I don’t know, I think he’s a funny guy but, having not had the female experience, I don’t know what he knows about what women spend their whole lives trying to be. Respected, maybe? Acceptable to society’s harsh standards, certainly.
Women don’t have a choice but to try to be pretty. If you show up to a job interview without makeup on, you’re less likely to get that job. Being “pretty” is akin to hygiene for women. We wear wires and spandex and sparkly things. We shove cotton inside our bodies to “present ourselves” a certain way while you fucks leave the house without flossing.
Also, I have spent YEARS of my life trying to be funny. I have done it without expectation of reward, without gaining major success in my industry, and done it all while costing myself money. I’ve paid my way to festivals, shows, and open mics. I’ve worked on jokes about my rape, the loss of my father, and growing up in a middle eastern household (sometimes all in one set). I’ve dug deep and worked hard and at the end of the day there’s always gotta be one guy with a “women aren’t funny” premise. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do anymore. If you want to say “women aren’t funny,” you better fucking make me laugh when you say it. You better not have an attitude after the female host of the mic where you CHOSE to come gets back on stage after your set and explains how exclusionary your point of view is.
To be honest, I don’t give a shit who you think is funny. Comics need to give up the bad attitude. You either love this or you don’t. You’re not at a open mic because you have to be there. It’s not court ordered. It’s not detention. You’re not “doing your homework,” or “putting in your time.” You’re not “paying your dues.” Comedy is fun. You GET to be here. Believe me, no one gives two shits if you take the day off. Enjoy it and start respecting your fellow comics. If you don't, please don't come sit by me.
I'm not offended. My feelings aren't hurt. I'm just tired. Part of the problem is this tired stereotype that a pretty woman can't be funny. That makes me being a comedian an insult whether I'm good at it or not. Either I'm funny and ugly or pretty and bad at comedy. My very existence must be so exhausting for men.
If you are reading this and you're like "ugh, this sucks, but what can I do to help?" Keep booking women! Book twice as many women on your shows as you do now! Even, GASP, have a show with more women than men. Book them and don't even tell them you think they are pretty, or that they aren't fat or whatever thing guys say when they try to sleep with you. Have them on your show alongside the men, and make this the new normal. And for the love of Christ please book diverse women. Book women who are new to comedy. Give them a shot like you would to your open mic-er buddy. Book a woman when a man drops out last minute. Book a black woman, an Asian woman, a lesbian, a trans-woman. Book a Latina. Book a woman over 40. If you're feeling especially down, book a half-Arab, half-White, almost 30 year old woman. I guarantee, we will show you, women are funny, if you just give them the chance to be.