My friend Rachel Flehinger is an improv comedian, an improv coach, a DJ for WPOR, and a million other things. She is funny, smart and lovely and immediately after she posted this on her website I asked if I could share it. I am happy that she obliged, and after we chatted for a few minutes it came up that this was inspired in part by a criticism of the recently launched “Ban Bossy” campaign I recently shared. I will go into the “Ban Bossy” thing tomorrow.
In the interim, take it away, Rachel.
Why aren’t women funny?
I’m often asked to discuss women in comedy. Why am I funny? Why are there so few funny women? What’s up with muffin tops. First, let me say, YOU try having skinny legs and a fuller middle and finding skinny jeans that accommodate both. Second, funny isn’t care taking, it isn’t polite, it isn’t tied up in a neat package that makes it easier for you to palate. You know, all those things we women are supposed to do whenever we do anything. Comedy is blunt, it’s bold, and it doesn’t apologize.
I watched as my mother, first a doctor of education, then a medical doctor, then the COO of a pharmaceutical company, then an MFA (also missing her MBA by a few credits when her company stopped paying) did as she did unapologetically. She moved mountains where men had built them specifically for women like her. She made statements. As she lays in her bed in hospice she still makes statements, “If you should bring me pudding I wouldn’t be offended.” She’s charming, blunt and funny, never concerned that what she says might land wrong or hurt someone. A conversation is a compromise, she taught me. It’s up to the other person to speak their truth, just as it’s up to you.
When women speak we worry about how we are received. Even when our sentences are statements they still have that implied question mark that leaves us vulnerable to your opinion. We will weigh your feelings, worry about offending you and often fret long after a conversation has ended. If words really had as much power as we say they do I’d be Dumbledore. While I do enjoy a nice robe, words are only that, letters strung together that have definitions. Strength, fortitude and our sense of self are what makes us impervious to their implications.
By my calculations, if I’m funny I must be a bitch. Who cares? You see, I state my opinions, I judge people for the sake of a laugh, and I make statements with a period, not a question mark. Why am I funny? I don’t care. A bold statement, I know. And I do care about people, dogs, the state of the world, my muffin top. But because I have a strong sense of my intentions, morals, compassion and opinions, I don’t worry about offending people. Instead I worry about making them laugh. I’m funny because I don’t even see mountains, my mom moved them for me.