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10 Female Comedians You Need to Know About

The Huffington Post estimated in 2014 that in the category of highest paid comedians there is only a 13 percent representation of women. That is appalling. I’m going to venture a guess that the reason there is only a 13 percent female presence is not because women are not as funny as men. It’s probably not even because there are more men than women in comedy. But, it may be because the media doesn’t give women the same coverage as men. One sure-fire way to have greater representation of women in comedy is to give women more media exposure. 

These are ten female comedians you need to know about. (We could have given you hundreds, but, you know, baby steps.)

1. Tig Notaro

Notaro is an alternative stand-up comic. Working in absurd humor, one of her most famous bits involves pushing a stool around the stage for as long as the laughs keep coming, and, in many cases, after they stop. Her set from 2012, where she confronts the news that she has cancer, is arguably the best stand-up set ever performed.

Watch her set on Conan here.

2. Rhea Butcher

Butcher is a stand-up comic who confronts sexuality and gender norms through her comedy. Her TV show Take My Wife is a wonderful meta-comedy (comedy about comedy) about two women trying to make it in stand-up while being in a relationship with someone who is trying to do the same. It streams on Seeso.com and is worth the subscription price. 

Watch her set on Conan here

3. Cameron Esposito 

Esposito is the other half of Take My Wife, with Rhea Butcher. Her comedy is a personal look at her experiences as a gay woman. Her onstage demeanor is welcoming and exciting, but most of all funny. 

Watch her set on The Late Late Show here.  

4. Two Dope Queens

This Comedy duo made up of Jessica Williams (of The Daily Show) and Phoebe Robinson (of Broad City) is responsible for one of the best podcasts every created. The best part of this podcast (other than the comedy, which is perfect) is that Williams and Robinson use the podcast to promote minority comedians, female comedians and LGBTQ comedians. These two dope queens do a lot for comedy and even more for undrerepresented comedians. 

Here’s an intro to their podcast. 

5. Lauren Lapkus

Lapkus is a writer/performer who has been doing improv professionally since she was a teenager. Her comedic range is so broad that her podcast With Special Guest: Lauren Lapkus centers on Lauren performing as a different character in every episode. It’s breathtaking. You probably know her as Vivian the control room operator in Jurassic World. You should remember her for her amazing characters.

Here’s a link to one of her characters on Comedy Bang! Bang! 

6. Wild Horses

This all female sketch and improv group from LA includes the aforementioned Lauren Lapkus with Mary Holland, Erin Whitehead and Stephanie Allynne. This group of women plays upon gender norms and female dynamics. While the goal of their sketches may seem simply to deliver big laughs, there is a rich critical evaluation of gender going on under the surface.

Here you can watch one of their Funny of Die sketches. 

7. Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford is a weirdo. She’s like your mom if your mom alternated between a million different voices when she talked to you on the phone. Bamford’s observational comedy about being a woman is enhanced through her use of her voice. She plays multiple characters in each of her bits, which creates a whirlwind of laughter. And underneath the laughs there are huge ideas that leave you thinking.

Here’s one of Maria’s sets on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. 

8. Sam Jay

Sam Jay is a conglomeration of underrepresentation in comedy. She is an African American, gay, female comedian. Her humor comes from experiences in her everyday life. One of her best bits is about embracing your stereotypes. The deep issues she deals with are perfectly paired with her stream-of-consciousness delivery. 

Watch her set at Caroline’s Comedy Club. 

9. Claudia O’Doherty

Claudia O’Doherty is an Australian comedian who works in multiple mediums. Her stand-up and sketches are high-concept and beautifully performed. Her work on the Netflix Original show Love is compelling and heartfelt. It’s difficult to emphasize how well O’Doherty can play a quirky people pleaser. 

Here’s her set on The Meltdown. 

10. Chelsea Peretti 

Peretti is probably the most known in this group. Her work on Brooklyn 99 is awesome, but I include her because you need to see her stand-up. Her Netflix special One of the Greats is a very well done meta-comedy stand-up show. Peretti uses the Meta nature of the special to talk about deeply personal issues in her life such as her withholding father.

Here’s the trailer to One of the Greats.

Cooper is a 4th year history student at Cal Poly. He loves film, television, writing, and podcasts. Hey Nong Man.
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