Forget that it's untrue. Forget that funny women are everywhere. Most people know that. Most intelligent people, anyway.
The issue is that when a high-profile comedian (or pundit or writer or talking ape) with a large-ish platform declares "Women aren't funny!" as undisputed fact, it gets out there and infiltrates the atmosphere like that green smog sh*t that kills the first born Egyptian sons in The Ten Commandments. It inflames the masses, and begs responses from smart and dumb people alike, and suddenly it's at the forefront of everyone's consciousness.
Well, everyone who cares about such things; namely entertainers, comedians, writers, Hollywood bloggers, people who think they are Hollywood bloggers, pop culture consumers and people like me, whose livelihoods are comedy. So now many of those people that have never even considered this bullsh*t controversy are mulling over all the performers and writers and comics that they know and are counting the women-to-men ratio, and figuring out how legitimate the statement is, and even if they disagree, there is now a seed of doubt planted -- ALL because a marginally successful idiot yelled it out at everyone. And now we are all distracted from what we are doing. For me personally, this adds up to about two-four collective hours of fuming. Two-four hours where I should be focusing on my work -- MAKING COMEDY. (Ronna & Beverly coming to Sky Atlantic UK premiering on Sept. 3!)
The really sh*tty part is that that seed of doubt then spreads through the subconscious of people in power; the executives and the investors and the programmers and all of the business people who give people jobs IN COMEDY. They are the people who aren't always on Twitter or up on the alternative comedy scene or in the audiences at the fringe festivals (all places where funny women thrive). They are the ones who give people those life-sustaining, paying jobs in comedy, and the LAST thing they need are seeds of doubt about women's funniness.
I used to think that there were more men in high-profile comedy writer's rooms and in high-profile TV comedy shows and movies strictly because it was a Boy's Club. Of course that's true in some instances, but as I have gotten older and carved out a small place for myself (vagina et al.) in the comedy universe, I think it might -- like most conversations about gender roles and society -- be slightly more complicated.
A lot of it is simple math. My level 1 & 2 UCB class rosters would BLOW YOUR MIND. I basically graduated comedy school with a bunch of guys who now collectively make enough to own a small studio and feed a small country. And run small empires. (You could even replace the word "small" with "big" in the last two sentences). The men I shared my formative comedy years with have starred in huge comedy blockbusters, have been on The Daily Show, SNL (as part of the ensemble and as host), have produced and starred in multiple TV series, been on the covers of Vanity Fair, GQ, Entertainment Weekly and many of them have even now gotten to do that thing where they appear in credible respected dramas because people want to see what happens when they really "act" instead of always being the crack-up. And some will win Oscars. Probably sooner than later.
So what happened to the 50 percent of women in that graduating class? Well, we're working. And a select few have also accomplished some of those feats listed above. And many of us are still busting our invisible balls. But honestly? There just aren't that many slots available for women correspondents on The Daily Show. And even though places like SNL and certain other hot comedy rooms around the country can catapult comedy careers into the upper stratosphere, the number of actual positions is finite. And if it's harder for women to procure those limited amount of jobs in the first place, it's gonna be MUCH harder to clinch that "we want to cast you in this period drama opposite Kenneth Branagh because it's time for your Bill Murray moment" moment. There is a "comic balance" let's say, to MOST bankable comedy projects -- in front of and behind the camera. It looks a lot like this: a robust ensemble of established comedy guys, one hot woman who can deliver a funny line (but is hardly a "comedienne") and then maybe one other role for a previously proven female commodity: Tina, Amy, etc.
So there's not always lot of room for newcomers. Just math.
But there's another factor that may lead to the drop off. (Don't be mad at me, jezebel.com.) Maybe, just MAYBE at a certain point... women just don't want to fight for that sh*t anymore. Stay with me. Could it be that a lot of women are too smart and/or like themselves a little too much to want what schmucks like Adam Carolla assume we aren't funny enough to get?
(Now if you are a 22-year-old lady comedy writer fresh out of the UCB theater, and you can't get your foot in that door no matter how hard you try, or how many submissions you get in, or how brilliantly funny you are, than that sucks. Go back up to the "men are holding us down" part. And you can also stop reading now. I support you, but this next stuff may not ring true for you.)
I don't want to be in the kind of writer's room Carolla wants to keep me out of. In his kind, the hours usually suck. And anyone who saw Louis CK's genius episode about the punch-up room full of insecure and overly caustic comics knows that a lot of those rooms are just live mine fields of rampant insecurity. They have no natural light and they smell like ball sweat, fear and stale donuts. What self-respecting woman really, truly wants to compete for hours on end with smart-ass cynics sporting obscure band tee-shirts and Galifanakabeards, all too terrified to laugh out loud at each other? I feel like I've already done that sh*t in the comedy club green rooms for over a decade. I'm not 25. I'm not even 35 (stopping here). Now my dream writer's room looks like a living room done in (preferably) Dutch minimalist and is filled with other sharp ladies, some fabulous gays and a couple fellow parents who can always provide an antibacterial wipe after a beautiful salad lunch delivered by Joan's on Third. And guess what? Adam may not know this, but such rooms DO exist! (Maybe not with the upscale Dutch furnishings, but mos def with fab gays... )
Look, as I said, I BUST MY INVISIBLE BALLS in comedy. I am still plugging away, but I also have room in my life for the things that matter. nd frankly, I think women as a whole are much better at striking balance in their lives. ost men need to be told when they are uncomfortable. Women know when there is a draft, it's too stuffy, the service is bad, and they will take the initiative to change it. We know more instinctively how to make life in the moment more pleasant. Men will sit on a balled-up sock for hours before they realize their ass has been hurting during the entire AMC Godfather marathon. (Did you know that men and women are different? I may not want to sit through six amateur routines about it at The Laugh Factory, but I'll cop to it being a pretty solid thesis.)
My point is that after a certain age, after women figure out that studio apartments are too small, one shouldn't wear jeans EVERY day, and the last shithead you dated will be the last shithead you have ever dated, they EVOLVE. At which point, if they can't find that AMAZING perfect job in the comedy world that gives them balance and quality of life, some move on. More math. Maybe the kind of places Adam Carolla wants to NOT see women are just NOT the places women want to be. That's what happened for me. I can't help thinking that maybe it's simply that men are from Mars and women are from someplace significantly better. I want a better quality of life and I am not ashamed to admit it. And I can't help feeling like most of the bright, talented, funny women I know at this stage would feel the same way if faced with taking a job on yet another failed Adam Carolla sitcom vs. being home in time to kiss their kid goodnight, have a glass of wine, put their feet up and catch the latest episode of The Real Housewives of (insert city).
Simple math. Maybe the waning number of women in comedy simply means they aren't really interested in competing for the sh*t jobs Carolla claims they aren't that good at. Look at me? Right now I am writing, producing and starring in my own show. And I get to tuck in my kids at night because I don't have some fool like Adam Carolla running a room where I can't get home before midnight.
And they tell me I'm pretty f*cking funny.
Follow Jamie Denbo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamiedenbo