Sexism in the Gainesville Stand-Up Comedy Scene
Comedy is "still obviously male-dominated," says British stand-up comedian Miranda Hart. "That's how it's going to be, certainly for the next 200 years. Just like politics. There are some professions that culturally and sociologically take a long time to change, and because of that there's still sexism in comedy audiences."1 Part of the reason that comedy is an artistic field that experiences such a high level of sexism is that because of engrained social attitudes, people are inclined to laugh at sexist jokes. Comedy that embraces sexism is likely to feel less "fear of disapproval of their peers," according to a study conducted at Western Michigan University.2 Those who perform or laugh at sexist jokes recieve reinforcement that sexism in comedy is okay, and are therefore likely to write more sexist jokes, and perform more sexist actions than those who are not exposed to sexist humor.
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From correspondence with a comedian, who uses the novelty of her sex to her advantage:
female in comedy is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because I DON'T
have any dick jokes, which the audience is usually tired of by the time I'm on
stage...It's a curse because the minute you hit the stage, the audience judges
you (this goes for all comedians). This is even worse when you're a female,
because the popular notion is that girls aren't funny, so the audience will
likely automatically assume you aren't funny.
...If I do win the audience over, they are pleasantly surprised and give me perhaps a better reaction than most of the other comics, like I said before.
Of course, comedians will always tell sexist jokes, but there's nothing anyone can do about it. The audience finds it funny, including the females in the audience. But being a female in comedy gives me even more motivation to be better than everyone else and prove that you don't have to talk about male/female differences or genitalia for good material."
1. "Sexist Humor No Laughing Matter, Psychologist Says." Science Daily 7 Nov. 2007. Print.
2. "Miranda Hart: 'Comedy Will Still Be Sexist for Years'" The Guardian. 13 Nov. 2010. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/nov/14/miranda-hart-interview>.