Woman comics have a uniquely difficult time. Being a black male, I know how it is to be judged on stage, but I am still a guy. I can fall back on the familiar male troupes. The weird thing about women comics is that women usually make up 50% or more of the audience of a comedy club (bars are different of course), but they make up a fraction of the comedians working today. Why is that? Here are some of my theories.
I have seen and shared the stage with many great women, but they all seem to go through the same difficulties. The biggest of which is this notion that women are not funny. I don’t know where that came from, but it seems to come from a place of ignorance. Maybe there are unfunny women just like there are unfunny black people and white people and unfunny men. I think this has to do with what women talk about on stage. I think if heard by an insecure male, instead of admitting it is a biting piece of humor will just say it wasn’t funny to insulate themselves from how terrible they are as people. If you want to be a horrible person fine, but it is not the lady’s fault.
Women also have to deal with male bookers a lot of the times. On top of a lot of people thinking they are not funny they also have to be sexualized. How humiliating it must feel to be called up for a show and the only reason they want you on it is because you can satisfy them? I have heard so many women talk about that one booker who would not give them the show unless they put their mouth on em. This stuff happens all the time in the industry. That doesn’t mean that every woman you see on stage blew someone to be there. That just means they had to do a whole lot more to be there.
In the Spokane scene, we have several really good female comics that will one day make money doing this (if they wish). What I love about it is that you can hear something different instead of the same ole male related material. I think the same thing applies for female comics as it would for any comic. Get your material and keep working at it until you get your chance to shine. Woman just have extra things to worry about. If they are attractive they could be seen before they are ready. That means they could do a show that they should not have because they were probably not prepared for it and it could set their career back.
Woman are also unique in that they could use that appeal to attract fans. Since woman are a large part of the audience, you could cater to your clientele by having more women on the show. That then runs into the previous issue of being seen too soon so you can see that this is a tricky matter. There is a market out there for all women shows and women headliners and I think as society moves ahead we will see more women take on these roles that men held onto for so long.