Women in Comedy Talk about What It Means to Be a Woman in Comedy

By Courtney Enlow | Celebrity | May 27, 2015 |


The Hollywood Reporter has posted their annual roundtable of women in comedy, this year featuring Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Ellie Kemper, Gina Rodriguez, Tracee Ellis Ross and Kate McKinnon.

These women, all fiercely funny and smart, shared their experiences in the industry. And spoiler! People have been terrible to them.

They’ve encountered misogyny on set.

DUNHAM I heard a guy on my show say into his microphone: “I hate this job. I can’t wait to be back on a show where there’s a man at the helm.”

SCHUMER I hope you sent [Girls actor-comedian] Colin Quinn home for that. (Laughs.)

DUNHAM Colin is actually the world’s biggest feminist! Later, that same guy came up to me at lunch and said, “You’re really enjoying that buffet, aren’t you?”

KEMPER No.

SCHUMER Who the f— is this?

DUNHAM He’s the worst person alive. I hope he reads this, which he won’t because he’s drunk.

And racism.

ROSS I think racism trumps everything. [It all] happens behind the scenes. … There aren’t many [roles in film]. That’s why I say no to all the offers! (Laughs.) Working on a film is one job where you look at a casting breakdown and I’ll think, “That’s me!” But she’s not supposed to be black.

They also discussed the race discussion that surrounded Girls when it first premiered.

DUNHAM There was a lot of dialogue about race when Girls started. I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.

RODRIGUEZ I don’t believe it’s an issue of hard-core racism [in Hollywood].

SCHUMER It’s ignorance.

RODRIGUEZ Lack of being surrounded by a culture.

ROSS We’re quick to vilify people instead of acknowledging we all have these huge blind spots.

They discussed the absence of women in late night.

Amy, your name came up when people were talking about who should replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, sparking a conversation about why women are so absent from late night. Why are they?

SCHUMER Because we get our periods at night. … I think people hate women. I don’t think they want to hear a woman talk for too long. A lot of people project their mom yelling at them. My [career] has been about tricking people into listening. I’m not saying all men hate women, but there’s such an aggression.

And the immense amount of hate women receive on social media

DUNHAM The way women are spoken to in social media is truly shocking. It’s how you imagine people screaming at prisoners in Guantanamo.

Including the worst thing anyone has ever said to them.

DUNHAM Rape threats. Death threats.

SCHUMER Wishing me to get ovarian cancer.

And how things are just different for women—not only in the entertainment industry, but in ways I think we can all relate, regardless of career.

SCHUMER I noticed when I had a suggestion for [Trainwreck director] Judd [Apatow] on set, I would say, “Um, sorry but …” I started all my sentences with “sorry.” I’ve made an effort to not do that now.

ROSS I was raised by a woman [singer Diana Ross] who has high standards for what she’s worth, which has been called “diva behavior.” I have witnessed flagrant, disgusting behavior, and that is not my mother. There is a way to be a woman, ask for what we deserve and be able to negotiate.

DUNHAM When it was leaked how much I was getting for my book [a reported $3.7 million for Not That Kind of Girl], there were 39,000 articles asking, “Is she worth it?” Then it came out what [comedian] Aziz Ansari was making on his book [a reported $3.5 million]. No one says a goddamn word.

KEMPER The vitriol, it’s stunning.

Being a woman can be a real pain in the vag. But as long as we have women like these six who are willing to speak that truth, maybe things can get better.

You can read the whole thing at THR. It’s long and it’s great.


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