Women ARE funny. And foxy!

Vanity Fair spotlights Tina Fey and other female comedians, and the question isn't "Why aren't women funny?" but "Why are today's funny women all so hot?"

Topics: Broadsheet, Tina Fey, 30 Rock, Sarah Silverman, Christopher Hitchens, Love and Sex,

Back in January 2007, when Vanity Fair published Christopher Hitchens’ irritating “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” clearly written in the depths of a Bushmills bender, the funny (ha!) thing was that female comedians were actually doing better than ever: Tina Fey was starring in the best sitcom on television after a winning tenure at “Saturday Night Live,” Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph were kicking ass on that show, Sarah Silverman had been the subject of a fawning New Yorker profile and was about to launch her own comedy show, etc. So it was puzzling why Hitch chose that moment to publicly perform his own verbal wedgie. Maybe it was a slow month.

But next month’s Vanity Fair cover story swipes back at that piece (its own piece!) with the question: Who says women aren’t funny? The story, written by New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley, holds the lighter high for today’s female comedians, a group also including (in addition to those previously mentioned) Amy Sedaris, Lisa Lampanelli, Chelsea Handler and Kristin Wiig. (It’s worth noting that Hitchens tossed off a response to this piece. His retort? Not kidding: Alessandra Stanley is obviously hot for him.) The women profiled here are all hilarious, but you may also notice that they’re rather va-va-voom. Which brings us to the good news/bad news portion of our program. Good news? Women are funny. Bad news? The only female comedians making it these days seem to be the hot ones. As Stanley writes, “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.” As Joan Rivers (no stranger to the plastic surgeon) quips, “Nowadays, you can’t even get on open mike with less than a C cup.” Ba-DUM-dum!

Personally, I find it fantastic that women like Fey are subverting the old stereotype that funny women can’t be desirable. For my money, Fey is one of the most desirable women on the planet. But it’s more than a drag to think that, for instance, Roseanne Barr wouldn’t make it in today’s television climate. An important part of humor is being human — flawed and imperfect and messy and, in the end, maybe not the kind of woman who can sell the cover of Vanity Fair.

Sarah Hepola is an editor at Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.


    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."


    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>