Why Sexism Is The One Thing The Comedy World Can’t Laugh At


A harsh light was shed on the comedy world last summer, when comedian Aaron Glaser was accused of rape by multiple women.

Although no charges against Glaser were filed, women in the New York City comedy community quickly joined the conversation. They had either experienced similar assault from Glaser firsthand, or knew someone who had.

When men spoke up about the incident, including "SNL's" Michael Che and former "Inside Amy Schumer" writer Kurt Metzger, they were quick to question the situation.

Che posted on his private Facebook page,

3 different people messaged me about a comic that got banned from comedy clubs for raping girls. messaged me! CALL THE FUCKING POLICE. so the penalty for mass rape is not getting to do comedy in a club for free? way to take a stand! what fucking planet am I on?

Writer Nikki Black responded to Che's "disappointing" comments,

Ninety-seven percent of rapists never see a day in jail. We've been forced to work outside the system and do things like ban people from shows because the system isn't helping us.

Thus began the divide.

But it's not a divide that came as shocking to anyone inside the community itself.

Take the creator of the Twitter account, One Woman On The Lineup. It's an account that retweets comedy shows that only have – literally – one woman on the lineup, in an effort to call out the absurdity of the gap.

I've never seen someone call out the industry for sexism without negative consequences.

Granted, sexual assault and sexism are two very different things. But it appears any issue regarding gender is quick to set the comedy community on fire.

"I have never seen someone call out the industry for sexism without negative consequences," says the creator of One Woman, who chose to remain anonymous to Elite Daily.

She says,

People don't want to be challenged for how they book shows, and anyone complaining looks unprofessional, annoying and bitter. I don't want to be known as the comic who calls out the lack of women booked on lineups, I want to be known as a funny comic.

According to One Woman, who has been performing standup for six years, the account posts shows as a nod to say, "Hey, maybe you could've booked one more woman."

If there are shows that have no women listed at all, she'll sometimes retweet and add "#yesallmen" or a broken heart emoji.

If you speak to any comic, the only way to get better at the craft is to practice it -- in front of a live audience. Amy Schumer references this in her book, and One Woman agrees.

Even so, One Woman argues that women aren't allowed to "fail" in the same way men are.

She says,

If someone sees a woman bomb on stage, it is quickly decided that she is not funny and shouldn't be booked; meanwhile a man can bomb and be invited back the next week to try again.

"For an industry that's known for being funny and self-deprecating, comedy really lacks a sense of humor when it comes to recognizing its own sexism," says Rosebud Baker, a standup comedian and actress based in New York.

She adds,

I could be sitting in the green room busting balls, having fun with my friends and the second someone is called out or made fun of for being sexist, nobody can take it. It's like telling a race joke in the south. It just gets too real for them.

According to both Baker and One Woman, a shortage of female comics isn't the problem.

There are 800 members in the Facebook group dubbed "Social Lady Comics," and 3,132 in "Women In ComedyLA," both of which serve as a safe space to discuss the practice of comedy through a female lens.

Comedian Marcia Belsky, who is an outspoken feminist – she created the "All Older White Men Should Die [But Not My Dad]" song and runs multiple feminist blogs – told Elite Daily in December,

If you don't like matriarchy as a joke, imagine how actual patriarchy might feel to a woman. I use clear sarcasm to make myself and other women (and men) laugh about the frustrations we feel. The everyday events that make us feel low. The people who make us feel powerless.

One Woman agrees talking about it is the only way to get on the road to any actual change.

She says,

If this account makes just one booker think, 'maybe I should put one more woman on this show,' I will feel incredibly successful. That is 100 percent more women on the lineup.