I was head over heels happy to find out about Dana Goodyear's delightfully well-written New Yorker magazine article about my favorite stand-up comedian, Sarah Silverman. Props to Dana for really capturing Sarah and her cut-throat comedic charm perfectly. If you don't know Sarah and are curious, that article is a great introduction.
Early on in the piece, Dana quotes some thoughts on female comics idiotically spoken by Jerry Lewis and Penn Jillette. Even though "Hey, Lady" Lewis tried to back-pedal out of his ignorant jab, he comes off looking like an ass. So does Jillette, who has the poquito cajones to slam Lucille Ball as having never been funny. Now, I know not everyone enjoys her humor, but it's impossible to deny her impact on the entertainment industry and her remarkable comic chops. She was one of my most cherished TV icons when I was growing up on daily reruns of I Love Lucy and I know I'm not alone. (Case in point: this touching piece written by the hilarious comic Taylor Negron—a man, thank you very much.)
Anyhow, I just want to shine a light on the stupidity still seeping through the cracks of our "advanced" society (as Sarah does so well), by sharing this quote:
"Comedy is probably the last remaining branch of the arts whose suitability for women is still openly discussed. Several years ago, Jerry Lewis, then in his early seventies, reportedly told an audience at the Aspen Comedy Festival that he didn’t much care for female comedians and couldn’t think of one who was any good. Lewis’s views were criticized in public but upheld by some, in modified form, in private. 'When you went home alone and did the math, he was just kind of right,' Penn Jillette, the magician-comedian, says. 'I mean, what passes for funny in women is, like, Lucille Ball, who was never funny.' Lewis apologized in a press release—he praised Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett—and later clarified his position on 'Larry King Live': 'I said, ‘Some women comedians make me uncomfortable,’ because a man comedian can do anything he wants and I’m not offended by it. But we’re talking about a God-given miracle, who produces a child. I have a difficult time seeing her do this onstage.'"
Way to pigeon-hole us by our uterus-bearing role, Jerry, baby. Then can women be funny post-menopause?
I've heard the stories about how tough it's always been for female cast members on Saturday Night Live when they come into the boys' club writing room and try to get their sketches on-screen. I can understand why funny men would be threatened by funny women, but by denying that a woman has comedic ability, a man shows himself to be insecure about his own talent. A truly funny MAN would be able to let his sisters of ha-ha do their thing without being threatened. Hell, he might even encourage them. And he might even laugh. If the terrorists are called cowards for bombing, male comedians should be called cowards for saying women comics are only capable of bombing. I think I've made my point. Now, don't forget to tip your waitresses. (And remember to read about Sarah at that link above. I think you'll love her, too.)