The comedy world is no longer a boys-only club. Women comedians are taking over
the stage, television and… Western? Almost.
Western has three major outlets for all things comedy: the Dead Parrots Society improv group, Western’s sketch comedy show You Would! and Stand-Up Comedy Klub (SUCK), all of which allow students to share jokes and laughs, hone their comedic skills and perform in front of an audience.
Although most of the members in the groups are male, the women that are involved aren’t afraid to step into the spotlight.
Junior Katie Heath owns the stage as the only woman in the cast of 11 that make up the Dead Parrots Society. You Would! and SUCK have a stronger female presence. Junior Anna Snedden and sophomore Summer Storholt are up-and-coming comedians in both You Would! and SUCK.
Though it does make them stand out, they don’t let their gender stop them from pushing themselves to be the funniest person in the room.
“It’s definitely challenging because I think guys are considered funnier than women, but women are just as smart and just as funny,” Storholt said. “I think that stereotype should no longer be a stereotype.”
Storholt and Snedden say that while their gender hasn’t slowed them down from entering the world of comedy, it does sometimes govern what people expect from them.
“Some people think it’s weird to have female comedians,” Storholt said. “I love proving them wrong.”
Snedden and Storholt describe their humor as somewhat crude, not afraid to cover a variety of topics from sex to poop.
“Most of the people who have come up to me after a set are girls and they’re like, ‘Oh I really liked your vagina jokes.’ Guys don’t really compliment me on those ones because I think it makes them feel uncomfortable – which I like,” Storholt said. “I like being able to cross the line and tell it how it is. I don’t hold a lot of stuff back.”
When they do venture into the type of jokes people don’t see coming, the results can be very different than how people react to male comedians.
“There’s different expectations for the content of your comedy,” Snedden said. “After my first stand-up set one of my friends told me I had too many dick jokes, I was like I don’t think there’s a limit to dick jokes. It’s interesting, the feedback you get.”
Some people think that female comedians use crude jokes to appeal to a male audience, but Snedden says that’s not the reason she prefers them.
“My best joke is about Weird Al sex dreams, which is usually a big hit. It’s just the nature of me,” Snedden said. “It’s not me trying to appeal to a male audience, which people might assume I’m doing, it’s just me being me. I have to tell some stupid poop jokes, everybody has to.”
Snedden says another obstacle female comedians face in predominately male groups is just finding ways to get female characters into sketches.
“I find myself having to ask the boys, ‘Can that character be a woman? Does he have to be a male? What benefit is having no women in the sketch? Is it really funnier that way?’” Snedden said. “Sometimes it doesn’t change, but it inspires conversation about the importance of women in comedy. Women don’t have to be an afterthought.”
Despite some of the challenges, Snedden says she has never felt excluded from the comedy clubs on campus.
“I’ve never really felt limited, I’ve just felt alone. You can feel like the only girl in the room because sometimes you are the only girl in the room,” Snedden said. “But I feel like I’ve really been able to grow at Western
as a comedian. I thought I would never have the courage to do stand-up, but it was men who pushed me to do it.”
Snedden says having women in comedy can start to break down some of the other barriers women face.
“It’s important for other women because there’s the issue between females that we’re constantly fighting with each other for power,” Snedden said. “We’re not supposed to like women until they prove that we should like them. It’s very competitive – not just in comedy, in life. But we’re funny, we’re hilarious and we can’t help it.”
Storholt agrees that the only thing that it should take to belong in the world of comedy is a good sense of humor.
“Good comedy should be good comedy, regardless of gender,” Storholt said.