There was some trickery that took place in Michael Passman’s arts column yesterday about the female cast of “Saturday Night Live” (The funny females of ‘SNL’, 11/18/2008). Passman wrote that “as a whole women aren’t exactly the most hilarious people on Earth” and tugged at my feminist heartstrings by failing to consider all of the great women comedians that exist now and have yet to be discovered.
I agree with Passman that for our generation SNL is not the pinnacle of hilariousness. For this reason, I would then ask that he not contradict himself by saying SNL is exemplar because it exhibits the only “funny females.” I also agree that we should acknowledge Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wigg for their work this season in bringing SNL back to life.
However, Passman’s position essentially presented an exception, not the rule. I can think of many women that both sexes continue to laugh with outside of SNL: Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Amy Sedaris, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Ellen Degeneres and Chelsea Handler. And the fact that this is by no means an exhaustive list proves that it is far easier to rely on vintage stereotypes than to actually consider the possibility that maybe women do have something to say and by golly, maybe then can actually be funny and clever while saying it.
As a women’s study major and a “closer observer of humanity” as Passman called himself, I will save everyone some time: Let’s take the sex and gender out of it (this might prove difficult), listen to the jokes and decide for ourselves what is mediocre and true comedic art. It may turn out there are more funny females than we anticipated if we listen more with our ears and less with our eyes.