The Power of Female Comedy

Graphic by Kristine Wang

Comedy has transformed itself entirely from our parents’ generation to ours. What once was strictly a nighttime scene, housed in bars and comedy clubs, stand-up comedy has launched itself into the global community with the help of specials. Netflix is home to dozens upon dozens of hilarious comedians’ comedy specials with something to make everyone laugh. Netflix’s comedy specials are accessible to anyone at any time, making them a vital cornerstone of any up and coming comedian’s career. 

However, often at the top of the list of best comedy specials are those of men’s. There are certainly some great ones on Netflix such as Chris D’Elia, Sebastian Maniscalco and Ronny Chieng, but there are incredible female-hosted specials that are often overshadowed and forgotten. It’s important to change the mindset of how we view female comedians as not being lesser than their male counterparts, and instead, giving them the credit they deserve. 

It’s no question that the entertainment business is tough, let alone the even tougher comedy industry. On top of that, being a female comedian adds to this difficulty. There are certainly prominent issues of being underpaid in the industry, but most importantly, being disrespected by others. No one doubts that women are capable of other facets of entertainment in the industry such as art, dance, music and acting, but when it comes to comedy, women are still seen as the outsider. 

When a female comedian is actually funny, people praise her for being the exception rather than recognizing her talent. Female comedians have the ability to be edgy and real with audiences just as much as male comedians do. Talking willingly about their periods, bad sexual experiences and annoying family life barely scratch the surface of topics. TinyFey, one of the most renowned female comedians, once said, “If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.” 

Comedy is often seen as a way for comedians to voice their complaints and woes in their personal lives as well as the larger picture of life. Audience members thus get to laugh along and relate to what isn’t right about the status quo. However, when we allow female comedians to be pushed aside and forgotten just because of their gender and not their ideas, what does that say about the comedy industry as a whole? By refusing to give female comedians a platform and a voice, there will continue to be a disproportionate and disparate gap that will continue to be perpetuated by the clubs, media and big TV. 

Comedy, in its current state, does not fully allow female comedians to thrive and find their audience. According to a Comedy Central survey, approximately 65% of its online audience is male. Even with a male audience being the larger majority, the number of women who are performers only hovers at around 20-25%.  The number of women who have specials and put on shows is still considerably low. When a male comedian isn’t funny, no one writes off the entire population of male comedians as all not funny because the reality is that it’s one person in a pool of many. On the other hand, when a female comedian is found not funny, the resounding consensus is that all females must not be funny then. The general perception of the population must be redirected to be more open-minded and accepting toward female comedians.

Although women tend to be a minority in comedy when it comes to standup and the big screen, our society has seen a progression toward making improvements in featuring female comedians. Late shows and Netflix specials have become the new launching point for many comedians’ careers, and with that, there are a plethora of incredible specials featuring female comedians. Check out some of VALLEY’s favorite female comedians who are changing the industry and really making us laugh. 

Ali Wong 

Hard Knock Wife 

Iliza Shlesinger

Elder Millenial 

Tig Notaro 

Happy To Be Here

Hannah Gadsby 


Jenny Slate 

Stage Fright 

Nikki Glaser



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