Good news, everyone: It's ok for women to be funny now. More importantly, it's ok for them to be hot and funny now—in fact, it's sort of a requirement. (Go feminism!) And it's definitely a requirement if they want to be included in Vanity Fair's upcoming "Queens Of Comedy" article, and have Annie Leibovitz photograph them glamorously spoofing celebrities because that's all anyone does now.
From Vanity Fair:
It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn't be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty–even sexy–to get a laugh. At least, that's one way to view the trajectory from Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett to Tina Fey. Some say it's the natural evolution of the women's movement; others argue it's a devolution. But the funniest women on television are youthful, good-looking, and even, in a few cases, close to beautiful–the kind of women who in past decades might have been the butt of a stand-up comic's jokes.
First off, that last sentence just isn't true. Kristen Schaal is a funny woman on television. So is Kathy Griffin. So are Wanda Sykes and Rachel Dratch. So is Mindy Kaling. So (by Vanity Fair's broad definition of "funny") is Ellen DeGeneres. Are they not "close" enough to beautiful to make the cut for "funniest"?
I love the incredibly careful parsing of words in describing the beauty of these "funny ladiez." "Youthful, good-looking, and even, in a few cases, close to beautiful"? Why not just provide a relative attractiveness chart? Or simply say, "They're pretty—for comedians," because, really, that's what this is about.
However, the idea that a comedian has to be unattractive to get a laugh never applied just to women—it applied to everyone. The cliché of the funny-looking funnyman (or woman) is a cliché for a reason: Most great comedians aren't known for their looks. Everyone used to ugly it up because attractive people weren't really considered funny. But that tide has started to turn, especially when it comes to women because, well, women are always evaluated on their looks and people realized that pretty sells better than ugly:
How this evolution happened is not entirely clear. The backlash school of feminism would argue that it's the tyranny of a looks-obsessed culture that promotes sex appeal over talent, be it in comedy, pop music, or even sports. Joan Rivers blames the entertainment industry and the men who still control it. "Oh, please," she says. "Nowadays, you can't even get on open mike with less than a C cup."
…It has become a supply-and-demand issue: the supply of good-looking female comedians is growing, and the industry demands that they keep growing prettier.
What the writer leaves out here is that the supply of good-looking male comedians is also growing, and the industry demands that they keep growing more good looking as well. This isn't just a women vs. men issue. This is an attractive vs. ugly issue. It's a new(ish) thing for any comedian (male or female) to be attractive, funny, and successful.
Which brings me to my next question: Why aren't Andy Samberg, Demetri Martin, John Oliver, and Flight Of The Conchords considered Queens Of Comedy? When do they get to dress up like drunk starlets and drape themselves all over the backseat of a limo in Annie Leibovitz photos? That's unfair, Vanity Fair. (ZING, also, sorry.)