Posted at 4:45 PM Feb 22, 2010By Andrea Grimes
Now, it looks like SNL is taking White Fever even farther into the bowels of lady comedy. Somebody at NBC told somebody at Entertainment Weekly that White would be appearing on a women of comedy special event with Tina Fey, Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler.
As a fan of those women, I'm excited about it. As a comedian and feminist, I couldn't be more irritated. This is exactly the kind of thing that keeps women othered in comedy.
See, women can't just be comedians. They have to be female comedians. In the popular consciousness, and in the comedy business, the default humor persona is male, and if a woman performs comedy, she is doing something special or exceptional. She is doing female comedy.
Because, you know, men know what's really funny, and women only know what's funny sometimes, and when they finally figure it out, they have to be singled out into a special female space where female comedy can exist. Because integrating femaleness into the totality of humor without qualifying it as a female exception is completely unfathomable, apparently.
But again, shouldn't us marginalized ladies feel grateful for every precious ounce of mainstream stage time we get? Shouldn't we be thanking our lucky stars for this special opportunity to showcase our talents, especially because we are so few, and therefore are so underrepresented? No.
Creating a "women of comedy" special event puts an incredible burden on those specific female comedians to perform at a specific moment, and if that moment doesn't have every single viewer--most importantly, every single male viewer--rolling on the floor with laughter, it will turn into a statement of proof about how chicks aren't funny. Nevermind the fact of the existence of thousands of male comics who suck mightily and often. It may be couched in terms of honor and respect, but singling out a few women for a ladies' night of comedy is ghettoization, not reverence.