As a comedian who just happens to also be a woman, I’ve been the recipient of some pretty hilarious comments from men no matter where the show may be, from headlining gigs in two story nightclubs to grunge sunday night open mics at metal bars. Men have come up to me after shows giving me advice on how to “fix” my jokes, and some just come up and say, “Wow, you were *actually* funny” or my PERSONAL favorite, “You’re one funny bitch.” Cool. Thanks. BYE. As ladies, we’ve all faced some high levels of misogynistic bullshit at the hands of the straight white dudes that most comedy scenes are overrun with, and frankly, that I can expect. But something happened to me in the last month of 2015, and I have brought it into 2016 because I have to f*cking address it.
The week that Star Wars: the Force Awakens premiered, I was booked on a show called The Roast of Luke Skywalker. I know, what a surprise, comedians are nerds?! I dressed as a pregnant Leia, who had secretly done more with Luke that just kiss. Before I donned the sexy pregnancy belly in my slave girl costume, I had my roommate take a picture and posted it on the internet because I was really proud that my body survived football and boneless wing season looking relatively intact.
I have always been pretty average, in fact, I am EXTREMELY average. 5’5″” and 155 lbs. Sing a song about THAT, Sir Mix-A-Lot. I work out five days a week to maintain, well… I work out so I can still fit in my pants after that risotto I housed last night, but I had bought this costume a few weeks in advance so I hit the gym a little bit harder in those weeks. I was really excited that this Size L costume from some shitty website even fit me, even though I had to stretch out the bottoms by putting them on my bulldog and making her walk around the house.
The show went great, everyone nerded out so hard, and I received an abortion by lightsaber from my lover/brother, Luke. Everyone wins! After the show, this really ridiculous thing happened: almost every woman I talked to said the same thing to me. They didn’t say, “Wow you were hilarious!” or “You weren’t hilarious, but I love your shoes!” which would both be acceptable. Instead, they said, “Wow. You are so brave for wearing that.” One said, “Good for you for getting on stage in that. You’re more brave than me.”
I thought this was weird… the fact that so many women chose the same word, brave. But I regarded it as a weird coincidence, drank my bourbon and changed into some real pants. But then… it kept HAPPENING. Women I would run into the next day, or the next week… they said the same thing. They used this word: BRAVE. And it’s the wrong word. It’s laced with judgment, hell, it’s dripping with it. And it consistently came from women. “Wow, I can’t believe you wore that. So brave.” I didn’t wear a meatsuit into an SPCA, I just showed my sturdy midwestern midriff for a comedy show. It started to drive me crazy, and I couldn’t figure out why. But then I realized, women never F*CKING support each other. This isn’t just in comedy, but in every career. When there are so few of us succeeding in a field, instead of lifting each other up, we want to be the best and as a result, we don’t lift one another up. It happens in the comedy scene all the time. There are only a handful of female comedians, but the only time we book each other is on “all female” comedy shows. And those shows are PACKED because women are *actually* funny – I swear.
These women were not complimenting me. They were just uncomfortable with what I was wearing. Maybe because when I sat down, I didn’t have washboard abs. Maybe it was jealousy, but it didn’t feel like jealousy. It felt like judgment. Wearing what you want and not giving a f*ck doesn’t make me brave. That’s not a compliment. Let me give you some other options for compliments the next time you see someone in a two piece Slave Leia costume: “Hey! Great job not wearing pants. You are crushing the no pants game.” or “You look like you could use a cocktail, what can I get you?” SEE HOW EASY IT IS.
As feminist guru and all around bad ass Tina Fey said in Mean Girls, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” I don’t believe in resolutions, but maybe we can work on supporting one another in the new year, instead of tearing each other down. That’s not my resolution, it’s not some lofty goal, I’m just going to f*cking do it. And I suggest you do the same.