Chicks Aren't Funny: Live from Saturday night, it's Betty White and friends!

Posted at 4:45 PM Feb 22, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

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Last week, the buzz was that, after much internet clamoring, Betty White was finally being considered to host Saturday Night Live. The former Golden Girl has had a pretty impressive run lately, starring in a Super Bowl ad and that one movie with Sandra Bullock and some guy, in addition to being lifetimely awesome.

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.

Comments

Jack said:

Isn't she 88? Maybe she didn't want to do a bunch of live skits after midnight. Maybe a "golden age of comedy" show would have been more appropriate? But who from that era is still alive?

Hooch said:

Who copy edited this? You keep misspelling "comedienne" in this article.

Kris said:

And so Hooch proves Andrea's point by insisting on using the gender based form of comedian.

Donovan said:

No No, it's comedinatrix

The LHS said:

I'm pretty sure it's comshedian. Ladies! Telling jokes! AMAZING. Certainly one can't do that for a whole 90 minutes. It's kind of sad, because this condescending "women of comedy" idea is sort of the opposite of honoring Betty White with an SNL hosting gig.

The Admiral said:

What's annoying to me is the implication that she can't handle hosting the show solo because she's OLD. And I guess that means she and Rue McClanahan couldn't co-host together (which has been mentioned) because damned if Rue isn't OLD too!

And aren't those dimples adorable? Isn't Betty White adorable? Who didn't love "Lake Placid" - "If I had a dick this is where I'd tell you to suck it." God I love her.

Diana G said:

TRU. DAT.

Ally said:

"But again, shouldn't us marginalized ladies feel"

**shouldn't WE**

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