Will a Female Comic Ever Host Late Night?
Really? Come on. I love Colbert, but casting another white male comic in the coveted Late Night hosting spot is as radical as choosing vanilla at 31 Flavors.
I was one of the few female comics touring clubs in the 80’s. In 1986, I was doing my first comedy special for Showtime. This was a big deal because it was produced by Paramount. It was four comics, and I was the only woman on the show. I was backstage listening to Howie Mandel introduce me: “And our next guest is uh, ah, is a woman, she’s a woman! And I know that cause I’ve seen her (two things that start with T) …. They’re real! Here is Judy Carter…”
Yes, I was being introduced as if my gender was a gross abnormality. Stomach churning, I summoned my courage and decided not to respond, certain that the producers would cut out the offending introduction. But, they didn’t, as you can see here: http://youtu.be/o2lPBKyiWrs (Please don’t judge the big hair).
So much has changed since the 1980’s. We have an African-American president, female CEOs, and gay people can get married. And, on late night TV, we have… wait for it… wait for it… all white guys with ties!
Really? Have the career opportunities for funny females not improved in 30 years? My friends are surprised that I’m surprised. They refer to a comment by Eddie Brill, former talent booker for Letterman, who explained to the NY Times why he booked more male comics than female comics. He said, “There are a lot less female comics who are authentic. I see a lot of female comics who, to please an audience, will ACT LIKE MEN.”
This statement is confusing, as it seems that Mr. Brill LIKES male comics. Wouldn’t “acting like a man” be an advantage for a female comic? Unless, of course, funny females are being judged, not solely on their comedy talent, but on their f-ability.
Every time a comedy with women hits the big screen, such as, “Bridesmaids,” or “The Heat,” I get a call from the media asking me the same question: “Are women funny?”
I’ll tell you what ISN’T funny – that tired old question.
Yes! Stephen Colbert is EXTREMELY talented. So are Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler, Aisha Tyler, and many, many others. Guess what? You don’t need to go to the bathroom standing up to be funny.
But… on the positive side, (hey, I’m a motivational speaker now, I have to look on the positive side), when a door is slammed in our faces, a window opens. That window of opportunity is the millions of people who LOVE female comedy. And that’s why I, along with other funny women such as Jeanne Robertson, Amanda Gore, Loretta LaRoche, and others, get paid well to perform for audiences of over 2500 people. Maybe it’s because audiences CAN’T see us on TV that they download our videos on YouTube, and come to see us live.
The good news is: capitalism trumps discrimination.
Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.