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Female Comedians: Breaking Stereotypes

Maggie McNulty, Staff Writer

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Considering I have been heckled by a manicurist and called “Maggie McNutty” at nearly every school function, the ability to laugh at myself has been a very important lesson for me to learn. Selfishly, I had always focused on how comedy affected me directly, thinking I was the only 13-year-old awake at two in the morning watching 30 Rock, but as I have gotten older, the immense impact comedians, especially female comedians, have on the people around me and society as a whole has become clearer.
In recent months, the discussion of women’s rights and women’s overall portrayal in the media has been a widely-debated topic. This year’s Academy Award nominees were primarily white men, a fact that has been extremely controversial. However, I feel the representation of women in the media has improved greatly in recent years. TV shows such as Girls and Broad City, which are created, written and produced by women, help to show situations and characters who are representative of “actual” women’s lives while still remaining hysterically funny.
Amy Poehler is one woman who has revolutionized what it means to be a woman in comedy. She has created the foundation “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls,” which helps to empower and educate young girls and others while still remaining a leading lady in the world of comedy and starring in Parks and Recreation. What makes Amy Poehler special is her unique ability to advocate for serious issues without taking herself too seriously.
Amy Poehler is not alone in her fight for both women’s rights and humor. Lena Dunham, creator, producer, writer and actress for the show Girls is openly pro-choice and she has used her fame to help educate the masses through her show and YouTube videos. Girls helps portray women in ways that differ from typical archetypes found in television shows and movies. Another comedian and women’s rights activist, Sarah Silverman, has used her celebrity and natural humor to combat the pay gap between men and women by creating videos that help educate and entertain the public.
Female comedians don’t only advocate for women’s rights, they also help to provide other perspectives to difficult situations. The late comedian Joan Rivers said, “I’ve got to do it [comedy]. Because unless somebody else does, America will go mad!” Rivers originally said this in regards to the 9/11 attacks. She was one of the first comedians who dared to joke about the attacks, and while her jokes did attract some criticism, they also helped to alleviate tensions within a grieving nation.
Female comedians have helped provide the world with an authentic view and voice of what it is like to be a woman in the United States and in the world. Through humor and insight, funny women have enlightened and educated millions of people and audiences. The ability to make people laugh and to make people aware of serious issues at the same time is not an easy feat, but many leading ladies make it look easy.

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Barnstable High School's Award-Winning Student News Site
Female Comedians: Breaking Stereotypes