Oh shit. I had said it. The ‘S’ word. I called a room full of white dudes a bunch of sexists. In that moment, without even trying, I had become a member of the feared terrorist group, the feminazis. You take ONE women and gender studies class in college and THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.

If you peruse my blog, you will notice I have a bucket list that I take pretty seriously (since my life is probably AT LEAST halfway over).
One of the things I needed to do, just once, was try standup. I happen to think I’m hysterical… and I like attention so why not? Recently the opportunity presented itself. My friend does improv at a comedy theatre in my neighborhood. On Wednesday nights, they have open mic standup. She invited me (and a few friends) to come along, and perform if we were so inclined.
I spent a good chunk of my work day typing up a 3 minute routine. (I waste a lot of time at work… Recently I was formally ‘encouraged’ to stop making sticky note snowflakes at my desk.) I was ready. I was pumped. I went to the show and got my name on the sign-up sheet alongside two of my comedically experienced friends and twenty-some other individuals.
The guy that runs the event got up, announced that he had brought free beer, told some funny jokes, and got the ball rolling. This was going to be a great night. Everyone was ready to be supportive and encouraging and laugh at each other. There was no better place to be at 9:30 on a Wednesday.
That’s when I learned that very few women do standup. It was less diverse than the US military in there. For an hour I watched white male after white male stand up and perform. I generally like white men and I was on board with the ‘supporting everyone who tries’ thing so I was glad I had left the stick up my ass at home that night. Because there is nothing worse than the person who can’t take a joke, right? I was ready to laugh.
Lots of the dudes were funny. Plenty of them were funny looking. And the rest of them were just bad comedians. I mean it’s an open mic, there’s bound to be a talent gap at these things and that’s fine. So I sat through an array of comedic acts. You know, some “Bruce Jenner. That guy was a guy and now that guy is not a guy.” A bit of your classic domestic violence humor. The always hysterical “Today I met my ideal woman, she had a vagina” bit. Plenty of ‘fat women are terrible’ comedy. you get the picture. and instead of laughing, as I intended, I often times found myself going “oh…”
To be fair, few things in this world are funnier than disrespect towards women. Oh wait, in the 5 seconds it took me to type that I thought of at least 42 funnier things. For example it’s really funny when these men who lack respect for the ladies are baffled by the fact that women don’t find them attractive. I mean these guys have developed such an incredible sense of humor, they DESERVE a porn star girlfriend! So they go on with their “why can’t I get a date?” bits and I’m sitting there like, “Who in their right mind would turn down this utterly charming individual”  Like the guy who joked about fingering an infant. The accompanying hand gesture? My heart melted.
I couldn’t help but comment on one joke. I’m not usually a heckler but, like I said, there was free beer… He was talking about how back in the day people had some crazy beliefs and apparently one of those beliefs was that men who performed oral sex on women were homosexual. He said “And today we know that’s not true because there is nothing gay about eating pussy.” Ok. Perhaps there’s some comedic value here.  But I had to point out a minor oversight. The punch line of this joke is predicated on the idea that WOMEN LITERALLY DO NOT EXIST (Unless their lady bits are being licked of course). So I said, “Unless you’re a woman!” I don’t think he heard me but the rest of the audience did. Oh man… he probably thought they were laughing at HIS joke! Oops.
So out of 20 people, 2 of them were female, and 1 was a person of color. I wasn’t counting… I remember because it turns out those three people objectively had the strongest routines. I guess they had to be actually talented since they couldn’t rely on the “funny looking white dude” thing.
I will admit that somewhere between the first spousal abuse joke, and the third bitch-gave-me-blue-balls joke, that stick I left at home somehow found it’s way back up my ass. It’s not my fault. I was on board with the support-everyone-who-tries stuff. But then these men weren’t funny! I have a good sense of humor and I’m not easily offended. But I’m pretty sure that at a standup event you’re allowed to be offended by bad comedy, right?
Whether or not you find sexist humor offensive, you have to admit it’s overdone. Your grandfather retired, let his jokes retire with him. We get it, “make me a sammich.” It lacks creativity and wit and those are the two things that make asshole comedians funny. All I feel when I see dorky white dudes, with overinflated egos, recite uninspired jokes, in their rehearsed “comedian” voice, is sadness. I could be sad, drinking, and disappointed by men at home. But I came here because it was supposed to be better.
I knew before I walked into this room that standup comedy is a male dominated thing. I just assumed, that at an amateur open mike shindig would… I don’t know… be a little bit more open?? You know what they say about assumptions; when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. That’s pretty much what happened.
All of these guys had gone, one right after another, and finally my friends and I were up! Three women in a row! My roommate did a great bit about the experience of being catcalled. My other friend talked about pussies, Vag hair (I think some of these gents were shocked to learn that pussies grow hair), and crazy roommates.
The guys did not know what was going on. This perfectly comedic evening had somehow devolved into women talking about their trivial female problems. Everyone knows that women aren’t funny, babies come from there. But the ladies didn’t care, we were having a blast.
Finally it was my turn.  So I got up there with my bit printed out on a sheet of paper feeling a little bit frustrated with the world and a little bit intoxicated. I also felt like an idiot because nobody the entire evening had read from a sheet of paper. There was no way this was going to end well. Clearly I’d landed in over my head AGAIN. And then I thought… shit, I can talk for three minutes! I can talk about what I have witnessed this evening for three minutes! And that’s what I did…
I did not read from my sheet of paper. Instead I said something along the lines of:
I have never done this before in my life but it was on my bucket list so here I am. I was told by my friend that this would be a super casual affair. She said I could just read off of a sheet of paper. “Lots of people do it! You’ll be fine. There’s amateurs, nobody prepares for this.” So I typed up a whole thing. I panicked and printed it in blue ink because my printer ran out of black. Absolutely nobody has read from a sheet of paper so clearly I was lied to. I was going to do this whole thing about how much it sucks to be a waitress, because it does, but I guess I’m just here to affirm the stereotype that women aren’t funny. Do you know why people think that? Because comedy is 99% dudes. Where are all the women?? Do you know how I know that you guys are sexist? I have been to the bathroom twice since I have been here and both times the toilet seat was left up. Nobody cares if I fall in and catch their weird gonorrhea.
I believe I went on to say something about how easy it is to manipulate men just by making them believe that you will do something good for their penis. And then I told the story about my fake wedding in Vegas because it’s funny and tied into the bucket list thing. But nobody remembers that because I had seriously hurt the feelings of some innocent gentlemen.
Oh shit. I had said it. The ‘S’ word. I called a room full of white dudes a bunch of sexists. In that moment, without even trying, I had become a member of the feared terrorist group, the feminazis. You take ONE women and gender studies class in college and THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.
In my attempt to knock a simple item off my bucket list I had made an unintended political statement. I now realize that women, just by doing standup, are kind of inherently challenging a preexisting system where men are funny and women aren’t heard from. But this realization came later.
In the moment all I was thinking was, “I did not totally bomb!” I was pretty thrilled about that because I did not have high expectations. Nobody else thought I would do well either. My own mother asked me, “did you get booed off the stage?” Anyway I was feeling good as the panic and embarrassment that comes along with rambling aimlessly onstage subsided. That’s when I realized I had affected people with my words. Always in retrospect, am I right?
Every woman in the audience approached me to tell me I had done a good job and say they were glad there were some women represented. The guy that ran the thing apologized for the bad comedians and said, “I mean I can’t control the crap that people bring in.” He told us he hoped we would come again. We stuck around and had some great conversations with some awesome funny people.
Overall it was a pretty positive experience. I came away with an increased respect for the female comedians I already fan-girl over, and maybe someday I will even try standup a second time. In the meantime, I would like to encourage all funny women to try standup! Seriously! Because there were few men as talented as the ladies I saw perform at this thing. The world needs to hear from you. Periods are funny god damn it!
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