When Adam Carolla said that women aren't as funny as men, he's not wrong because he's speaking from his personal experience. Most readers of the Huffington Post disagree. I disagree. But that doesn't really matter.
Salon outright dismissed Carolla. "Carolla's snide dismissal of women -- and his invocation of his own daughter and his obviously lower standards for her -- are repulsive in and of themselves. But the greatest sin in the whole thing is how tiresome the shtick itself is." While this is fine, dismissing one man's opinion ignores the potential for discussion about anything substantive.
The very funny Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post published a similar piece entitled "Adam Carolla, for the last time.""Carolla may have the world's most subscribed podcast, but that medium is not quite comedy. He's not funny; he's a talented polemicist. And now he's got publicity for his book." More opinions about an opinion. The problem with the article's title is it can't be the last word because no one has said anything other than comment on one dude's opinion.
Reactionary dismissals of Carolla may be fun or therapeutic, but it continues the Lewis/Hitchen's women aren't funny blah blah blah.
In my limited experience, I've found that gender, sexual preference and race don't necessarily matter when it comes to funny. I have found that there are more male than female comics. There is a problem and it's not Carolla's viewpoint.
Twitter's finest Rob Delaney wrote a piece on his Tumblr explaining how the Upright Citizens Brigade influenced him to take the stage. He pointed out that 1/4 of original U.C.B. is female. Then he pointed out a good number of funny ladies he tried to hire for his show, which is great, but ended up with a mostly male writing staff. The guy saying Carolla is wrong and that women are funny could not find enough females to hire to staff his own show. The problem is that there aren't enough female comics.
Until we're much closer to a 50/50 male/female ratio of performers, the situation deserves to be addressed. Until an audience member is used to seeing a wide variety of performers, we'll be stuck with showcases that feature one type of voice. That echo chamber gets boring. It doesn't matter if you're at an all female showcase or all Caribbean showcase or Blue Collar Comedy Tour, one viewpoint is boring.
One of the funny people that are doing something to change the boredom that can be an open mic is Chicago stand up Cameron Esposito. The Just For Laughs veteran began teaching classes for females interested in stand up over four years ago. She understands the general opinion that classes are a waste of time and money, a short cut to certain club slots rather than doing open mics, but this class isn't that. Feminine Comique is a forum for potentially funny people to get advice from a performer that has a little more in common with them than the typical lineup at an open mic.
Since 2008 over 125 individuals have taken her class, some who enjoyed their time as an adventure and others that have continued to pursue the art form. A few have appeared on Just For Laughs and are producing their own rooms. But Esposito isn't advocating skipping out on doing other rooms.
"Everybody should go to open mics, cut their teeth, connect to other comics who will be your allies later. But it's weird to go up, especially in Chicago where the north side comedy scene is super white dominated, every other person in the room is speaking from the same demographic viewpoint, 30 white men in their early 20s. You're going to say some stuff that they're not going to think is funny and you're not going to relate to them if you're the only person speaking form a different viewpoint. It's really tough to have any satisfaction or connection. The answer isn't less involvement, it's more women going to open mics."
Esposito is gearing up for a move to Los Angeles later this summer. The classes will continue without Esposito. Kelsie Huff, a former student, will end up leading the program. Esposito will continue as artistic director and, in theory, the gender disparity that makes this still an issue will slowly fade away.
Carolla won't be convinced women are as funny as men. It doesn't matter. But there is a problem.
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