Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Oh glorious April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair!

Who Says Women Aren't Funny?

Certainly, the rewards of wit are not nearly as ample for women as for men, and sometimes funny women are actually penalized. Not everything has changed since 1885, when educator Kate Sanborn tried to refute the conventional male wisdom in her book The Wit of Women. Sanborn pointed out that women have good reason to keep their one-liners to themselves. “No man likes to have his story capped by a better and fresher from a lady’s lips,” she wrote. “What woman does not risk being called sarcastic and hateful if she throws the merry dart or engages in a little sharp-shooting. No, no, it’s dangerous—if not fatal.”

Or as Joan Rivers puts it, “Men find funny women threatening. They ask me, ‘Are you going to be funny in bed?’?”


It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn’t be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty—even sexy—to get a laugh.


There has been a epochal change even from 20 years ago, when female stand-up comics mostly complained about the female condition—cellulite and cellophane—and Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr perfectly represented the two poles of acceptable female humor: feline self-derision or macho-feminist ferocity.

Comedy has changed on sitcoms, in clubs, and on Saturday Night Live. The repertoire of women isn’t limited to self-loathing or man-hating anymore; the humor is more eclectic, serene, and organic.

Love Annie Leibovitz's shots of some of my favorite smart, funny, feminist women -- Amy Poehler, Amy Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, and Tina Fey -- done up like some the most tragic yet high-profile examples of our gender: casualties of celebrity or unformed, outdated, and patriarchal ideas of power and womanhood:

Check the spot-on Amy Winehouse in Sarah Silverman:

My only gripe -- where is my beloved Margaret Cho?

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