The Female Comedian: An Oxymoron?

female comedians

Females, let alone female comedians, just aren’t funny. Or at least that’s the consensus.

But why do an overwhelming majority of people subscribe to this idea?

1. Because women have no need to be funny.

The following is an overused quote from an over-referenced piece by Christopher Hitchens on why the female sex is lacking in the humor department:

“Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.”

So there you have it—females are not funny because they’ve never had a reason to exercise their funny muscles. Instead, it’s men who are burdened with the duty to make women laugh, and are therefore skilled in the funnies.

2. Because female comedians only focus on female quirks and tidbits.

Maybe, maybe not.

I can see how humor that references a group’s particular experiences limits a female comedian’s audience. But if nothing is off limits for comedy, then where’s the room to talk about things like sneezing while on your period, sweaty bras, or the overall shit women go through on a daily basis (literally and figuratively)?

Comedy is a platform for humorful insight on just about every topic imaginable, so why not have a good listen to the issues around you?

And for the record, there are plenty of female comedians who aren’t set on sex/gender-oriented humor—like Maria Bamford.

3. There just aren’t enough females in comedy.

Check out these screenshots–they’re from two Wikipedia pages:

male comedian


women comedian


First off, it’s obvious that the pages aren’t exactly identical–I don’t buy that South Korea has no male comedians.

What I’m trying to get at is that Wikipedia has become a bit of a standard search engine (aside from Google) to find out more information about a person.

According to these pages, Wikipedia recognizes 1,422 male comedians and 653 female comedians.


I think it’s safe to say that as a whole, it’s not that women are not interested in being comedians (the women comedian’s page on Wikipedia wouldn’t exist otherwise). But perhaps women have been indirectly taught to shift their gears away from comedy, leaving it to be a heavily male dominated field.

Doesn’t it remind you of the gender gap in STEM fields, where women have traditionally been pushed away from the sciences, as demonstrated by this Verizon ad?:

Bottom line: Before we start saying that one sex is funnier than the other, let’s make sure that the playing ground is equal.


Photo by Isabelle