Vulgarity: A “Boy’s Club” Style of Comedy
When asked if she was annoyed by comments that audiences were surprised by the success of the film Bridesmaids due to the all female cast, Maya Rudolph responded “It is a little lame to me, yeah, because I’ve been doing comedy for a long time and I never thought it was vaginal comedy” (E! Entertainment, 2011). Famous men such as William Congreve, John Belushi, Jerry Lewis and many more have made definitive statements that women simply aren’t funny (Delingpole, 2014). Their reasoning behind this argument varies, but the reason may not be what is most important.
It seems that society has only just begun to accept the idea that women can be as funny as men. Though this may seem like a step towards equality among the sexes, there are still huge strides that need to be made. Although women comics are now more widely accepted and maybe even encouraged, audiences are still surprised when a female doesn’t stick to a prim and proper routine. There seems to be a “boy’s club” of comedy style, and when women present jokes and other forms of comedic entertainment in a similar way, many viewers find it unnatural. This begs the question: are we truly in a post-feminist society, or is the gender-gap still alive and well?
As someone who truly believes there needs to be equality among the sexes, I was shaken by a recent conversation I had with a professor of mine. We were discussing one of my favorite shows, Inside Amy Schumer. I said how much I enjoyed the show, and that I loved how a female comic was being viewed as an equal among the male dominated profession. I then expressed my curiosity of whether Amy Schumer’s show would be as successful if she didn’t employ such a “male-type” style of humor. My professor stopped me there and asked me to consider what I had just said: if I truly believe that women and men should be viewed equally, why did I consider Amy Schumer to have a “masculine” style of comedy? This made me think.
To give some background and an explanation as to why I, and many others, view Amy Schumer as a “masculine” female comic, I will describe a few scenes and episodes of Inside Amy Schumer:
The first example is a segment in an episode titled Lunch at O’Nutters. This skit is a satirical take of sorts on the restaurant Hooters. At O’Nutters however, instead of tight shirts and push-up bras, the male employees wear tight leotards to emphasize their well-endowed “package”. The women constantly gawk at the men and the emphasized body-part similar to the way men stare at Hooters waitresses’ accentuated chest. This skit is clearly a comment on how ridiculous people may view Hooters. Additionally though, by having the women stare and objectify men, she is taking on a “male” persona. But even saying that this is a male persona is an issue. Besides the way this skit pokes fun at the restaurant Hooters, it’s really not that far off when it comes to many women. Like men, women are human beings with sexual desires. Is the fact that Amy stares at the waiter’s junk funny because she is a woman and viewers believe this never happens? Surely women do not ever accidentally look at a man’s package right?!
Another episode entitled Boner Doctor is a commercial parody that mentions the side effects of male-enhancement drugs. She offers a service to men with erections lasting longer than four hours stating: “If you have an erection lasting more than four hours-CALL ME!”
This is also shocking to many viewers. And this shock factor may be the reason so many find it funny. However, similar to the O’Nutters skit, we have to remember that some women don’t watch it and laugh because of how outrageous and unlikely it is. For many women they find it humorous because they can relate to times when they just want to hook up with someone. (Gasp! Women never want a casual hook-up!)
In addition to the sexually charged skits, Inside Amy Schumer features snippets of Amy’s standup comedy. In these performances, Amy calls out male audience members (often asking about their penis or how they are in bed) makes vulgar comments about men and women, talks about using the Morning After Pill, and much more controversial content. While people seem to genuinely enjoy this segment of the show as well as Amy’s tour and are truthfully extremely supportive of her career and all she has accomplished, are they excited for her because of her talent or because she is talented IN SPITE of being a woman?
Now, there is no denying that these examples prove the vulgarity of Inside Amy Schumer; and they also demonstrate just how popular Amy Schumer’s show has become. However, the issue at hand is not about whether a viewer enjoys vulgar humor or not. The issue is whether vulgar humor is seen as a gendered style.
It is 2014. It is time we stop pretending that women don’t burp, fart, or poop. These are uncontrollable things that happen inside of the HUMAN body. On that same token, we need to open our eyes and realize that women and men share many of the same experiences. Not every woman will relate to every man but at the same time not every woman relates to every woman. There is no doubt in my mind that Amy Schumer is playing a large role in neutralizing the way gender is viewed in comedy. However, until comedy television will be completely gendered we need to change our dialogue. Amy Schumer is not just funny for a girl. Amy Schumer is a funny human being.
Delingpole, James. "Women Aren't As Funny As Men: But Why Rub It In With Sexist Quota Systems?"
Breitbart. N.p., 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. <http://www.breitbart.com/
Maya Rudolph | Chelsea Lately. YouTube. N.p., 18 May 2011. Web. 4 Apr. 2014.