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Female Comedians: Why Is It Harder to be Funnier as a Girl?

Bucknell’s student body eagerly awaits entertaining stand-up comedy shows put on by student groups every semester. Last Friday, on September 30th, laughter could be heard everywhere on campus from the comedians of the group, College Dropout, performing in Trout Auditorium. The show’s comedians were two females and two males with two male masters of ceremony (MC).  The ‘Nell Party performed their first stand-up comedy show of the year on Friday, September 16th, with four male comedians and a female MC.

According to popular belief surrounding comedy, it is harder to be funny if you are a girl. This idea is engrained our society in general. In fact, there are more famous male comedians in the comedy business who make more money as a whole compared to female comedians. The most widely recognized explanation for the stark difference in male and female comedians is the way our society stereotypes gender roles.

People can argue that we are in a golden age of female comedians, from Tina Fey to Ellen DeGeneres to Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer. Although they are not the first to have popular television shows, these women are the first to do comedy boldly, insisting on dedicating their entire performance to vaginas every now and then.

However, men are usually defined as funnier than women. A RateMyProfessor statistic illustrated that in every single discipline, male professors were far more likely than female professors to be described as funny. One of the major explanations for could be due to the differences in their material. Raunchy material is viewed as hilarious for men and tends to be seen as awkward and taboo for women. Amy Schumer explained the difference by stating, “I’m labeled a sex comic. I think it’s just because I’m a girl. A guy could get up here and literally pull his [penis] out, and people would be like, ‘he’s a thinker!’” When women joke about similar topics, they are viewed as unladylike and self-deprecating.

Psychologically, men are considered riskier and more confident than women. Men take more risks in humor and fail more miserably, which helps them improve their comedy, while women are more likely to give up and feel defeated after a bad performance. In a 2001 study, results found that confidence in women’s humor increases in all female groups, while men tell more jokes in mixed company.

On average, men use their jokes to attract women, while women use their laughter to charm men. In 1998, a dating study was performed with 100 college students. Each student was shown pictures of people of the opposite sex with interviews attached in order to describe the person’s personality. Each interview portrayed the individual as funny or bland. A man’s sense of humor increased women’s desirability, while women’s sense of humor made them slightly less attractive in the eyes of men.  

Female comedians have always been a step ahead of society. However, as more female comedians take center stage, society is adjusting. As Tina Fey preaches, “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” Women are just as funny, if not funnier, than men. Therefore, we as a society need to encourage women to take center stage more often.

Great job to all the brave and hilarious comedians that perform in Bucknell comedy groups!

Sources:

http://www.askmen.com/dating/curtsmith_500/594_why-women-arent-funny.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/11/plight-of-the-funny-female/416559/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2016/09/27/how-amy-schumer-became-the-first-woman-to-ever-make-the-highest-paid-comedian-list/#74262ad17df4

http://thelala.com/women-arent-funny/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nolanfeeney/2013/07/11/why-arent-there-more-women-on-the-top-earning-comedians-list/#656d89563cfc

Molly Farrell is a junior at Bucknell University majoring in creative writing and minoring in arts entrepreneurship. She enjoys long walks on the beach, netflix to continue playing, and her puns intended. Follow her on instagram: mfarrell34
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