Why Aren’t There More Female Comedians?

Food for Thought

Why aren’t there more female comedians? That’s one of the serious topics we discussed at this pandemic-friendly Greek restaurant. “Because women are discriminated against,” would be the politically correct answer. No, it’s not politically correct to discriminate against women, but it’s politically correct to agee that they are, whether it’s true or not. But you know me. My brain had to ask the incorrect question: “Is that really true in comedy?”

Why aren’t there more female sanitation workers? What is the politically correct answer to this one? I have a feeling that nobody would be offended if I suggested that there is no gender discrimination in this field. A quick check on Google reveals that, in 2014, the gender breakdown of the job applicants for NYC Department Sanitation was 78 percent male, 8.4 percent female, and 13.2 percent unspecified. If we are to fix this inequality, who should we criticize? If women are not attracted to a particular field, whose fault is it?

Back to comedy. Before we assume that gender inequality is always caused by discrimination, I think we should ask if there are other reasons.

My kid noticed that regardless of gender, comedians are generally not good-looking. There are countless overweight comedians like Will Ferrell and Jim Gaffigan. I think it’s because it’s hard to laugh at someone who looks like Tom Cruise. That is, looking funny is an asset in comedy. If you are a stunning beauty, you will have a hard time getting people to laugh at you. To be a comedian is to be a clown. Regardless of gender, you need to make yourself look worse, not better.

Women are constantly under societal pressure to look better, and this conflicts with the goal of comedy. In contrast, practically half of the men give up their looks early on. If they don’t have what it takes to be male models or Hollywood lead actors, no further efforts are made to look better after high school. Becoming a comedian is an attractive option for these men because their below-average looks is an asset.

This is a double whammy for women; not only that they forever have to mind their looks, but also that half of their potential mates are ugly and don’t care.