Earlier this week, Dave Letterman’s long-time show booker Eddie Brill lost his job. His offense? In an interview with the New York Times he responded to the question about why he had only booked one female comedian in all of 2011 by saying that female stand-up comics are less “authentic” and act like men on stage to please the audience. This created an uproar in comedy circles and beyond.
But Brill may not be alone in thinking that there’s something less than authentic about female comics. Look in the writers rooms at most sitcoms and practically all late night talk shows, not to mention comedy clubs and you’ll see a shocking lack of women. People are STILL talking about Christopher Hitchens’ 2007 Vanity Fair takedown of women in comedy that essentially posited that women didn’t need to be funny because they have other qualities that appeal to the opposite sex.
It’s been several years since then, but how much has changed for women in the business? There are certainly many more recognizable women in comedy now than ever before, like Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, Ellen Degeneres and Kathy Griffin. Is parity right around the corner? Does the industry still favor men over women, and perhaps more importantly do audiences? Are men given more opportunities for exposure, and if so, how do women in the business combat this? Is there something inauthentic about women on stage? And, at the heart of it all, are women funny?
Larry Getlen, Editor, Mirth Magazine