Are funny girls finally finishing first? Well maybe not entirely, but Hollywood is certainly having a love affair with today’s funny females, and we're glad to see more of them gracing the small screen.
NBC recently announced a sitcom pilot starring The Katydids, a group of six female comedians who met while working in Chicago’s improv comic scene. The sextet will be joining Comedy Central’s Amy Schumer, Mike and Molly’s Melissa McCarthy, Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Full Frontal's Samantha Bee and The Mindy Show’s Mindy Kaling as just a few of the comedians that have parlayed their improv and stand-up acts into TV shows. Is anyone still debating about whether or not women can be as funny as men? If so, do they own a television set?
Today’s leading ladies of laughs are taking on more relevant topics, portraying more varied roles and straying from traditional beauty standards in a way we haven’t seen en masse like this before.
Schumer’s shock-and-awe humor uses razor sharp wit and hyperbole to make fun of deeply ingrained double standards about gender roles, leaving us laughing and shaking our heads at the same time (see: "I’m Sorry" and "Compliments" for examples of her point-and-laugh approach to over-apologetic women and women who can’t take a compliment, respectively). Schumer's humor can run on the crude side, which may not be everyone's cup of tea, but she pulls no punches when it comes to sexist standards. Rather than an outraged diatribe about the societal disparities that women encounter on a daily basis, Schumer manages to make us laugh about it.
McCarthy, who by her own description has been “every size in the world,” has managed to excel in comedic roles on television and the big screen since we first fell in love with her as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls—despite the fact that she doesn’t fit Hollywood’s traditional “it girl” requirements. In 2011’s Bridesmaids (written by a female writing duo, ICYMI), McCarthy’s supporting role nearly stole the show, earning her an Oscar nomination. Take that, Hollywood stereotypes.
For her part, Kaling has stunned us all with her transformation from vapid Kelly Kapoor on The Office (never mind that she was also writing scripts for the show) to the headlining act on The Mindy Project and the best-selling author of hilariously titled Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me. She pokes fun at the superficial sensibilities that none of us are immune to but don’t have the guts to own quite as boldly as she does.
All of these women are uniquely imperfect yet unabashedly confident. There was a time in Hollywood when they might have been told that they were too fat, too plain, too honest, too masculine, too ethnic, too… much like real life. Hollywood is about escaping reality, after all, so what do we want with these relatable women?
We want them because they make us laugh. And not just in the ways that television has usually made us laugh, with an ongoing cycle of set-ups and punchlines and predictable jokes based on stale stereotypes (anyone else ready to be done with the doofus dad role on every sitcom ever?). Today’s funny ladies make us laugh at ourselves—our insecurities, our frustrations, our relationships. They make it okay to admit that we share the same embarrassing habits or thoughts or desires. They shine a light on situations that we’ve found ourselves in a hundred times but never seen the humor in. They are us, but funnier.
In a time where anyone can seem to fall into 15 minutes of fame for reality show antics and surgically enhanced bodies posted on social media in all their glory, the rise of the funny female gives us hope that some of the boundaries that are being pushed in Hollywood are actually the ones we’d like to see pushed. So please, ladies, keep it coming. Keep us laughing.
Photo Credit: The Katydids