A few years ago, I was interviewing Sarah Silverman for this site, and I asked if there were any value in asking what it’s like to be a woman in comedy anymore. She quickly said no. “To me the last relic of the whole ‘women in comedy’ issue is that interview question,” she explained. “Women run comedy. I mean, it’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Chelsea Handler … Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Women have had to be undeniable in order to come to light, and they have, so there’s a real force now. It’s an undeniable force. Is anyone better at hosting awards shows than Amy and Tina? … All that’s left is that question that is always, always, always asked.”
Of course, she’s right: The question has become a lazy one. While there might be gender-related differences in what it’s like to try to make it in this business, the question more often than not is used to lump female comedians together, and to diminish their individual accomplishments. The implications being: (1) Comedy is a boy’s club, too rough for the delicate sensibilities of a woman, and (2) because of No. 1, not that many women would ever pursue comedy.
I think it’s a good time to stop asking that question. Well, actually a good time would’ve been decades ago, but change happens slowly. This weekend, at Brooklyn’s Littlefield, Mindy Tucker, a photographer well-known for shooting the New York comedy community, took a picture of over 200 female comedians based in New York. The photograph’s organizer, comedian Jessica Delfino, told Splitsider, “I’ve been a woman in comedy for a long time. How many times can I read media quotes like, ‘We wanted to hire a woman but we couldn’t find one,’ or ‘There are no women in comedy,’ before I feel inspired to do something about it?” It’s 2016: Women are comedians.