Writing a decade in review is an easy task for a writer. Take a topic and show how it has improved or declined, cite examples and voilà, a listicle! But it’s much harder to turn the lens around and inspect our own growth.
I don’t remember the date or even which year, but suffice to say it was a darker age when an earlier model of myself stated—nay, PROUDLY PROCLAIMED—that women weren’t as funny as men. Of the things to be 10 years earlier than Adam Corolla on, I really wish it had been tying my fame to Jimmy Kimmel, and not this caveman misconception. But I said it. I didn’t take it back when given an immediate chance at a mulligan, and then doubled-down, doing the only thing worse.
I demanded the opposition name five funny women. I DID THAT. But wait, it gets worst! I proceeded to “NO” most of the nominees that were tossed out. I don’t remember their names, but I denied each and every one for reasons big and small(minded).
Since that day, three incredible things have happened.
I’d like to think I have matured, that I opened myself up to different voices, and that I listened to them. Also became more secure and was able to see that funny women didn’t threaten funny men (like me?) or unfunny men (like me!).
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey became superduper stars and opened the doors for others on their TV shows and movies. Amy Schumer widened the lanes for other hilarious women stand up comics, just as Ellen and others had done before her. Thanks to YouTube, we got to see the hilarious and talented Issa Rae, as well as Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson from Broad City. There were more podcasts and streaming platforms for women who previously hadn’t been given the chance to break into a more limited and more antiquated male-dominated industry.
Or maybe it didn’t. But after Louis CK and other gatekeepers were censured, benched, or all-out cancelled, the comedy landscape changed. People like me, who hadn’t realized all of the hurdles stuck between men and women in comedy, now started seeing that it wasn’t all equal. And while that doesn’t make anyone of either gender funnier or not funny, it adds perspective to why categorical comparisons aren’t often useful in awarding merit.
A decade later and comedy has changed. The good news is so have I. And with both of us getting more influence from women, we are certainly better off than 10 years ago. Here’s to even more improvement, more voices, and fewer ignorant idiots in the next decade.
And while I absolutely learned my lesson and now try NOT to go around listing women, I do want to give some shout outs to women who are hysterically funny but don’t get as much shine for it. If you aren’t familiar with them, consider it a humble suggestion for the new year from a man who has eaten a generous helping of humble pie: Edi Patterson, Jess McKenna, Heidi Gardner, D’Arcy Carden, Vanessa Bayer, Jen Kirkman, Megan Amram, Cathrine O’Hara, Mary Holland, and Laurie Kilmartin.