"...my argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three. When Roseanne stands up and tells biker jokes and invites people who don't dig her shtick to suck her dick—know what I am saying? And the Sapphic faction may have its own reasons for wanting what I want—the sweet surrender of female laughter. While Jewish humor, boiling as it is with angst and self-deprecation, is almost masculine by definition."
"Hefty or dykey or Jewish?" Okay, wow. There is so much wrong with that paragraph, and with the man who wrote it, that I won't even bother to attempt analysis.
I found out about Mr. Hitchens's piece (hee!) while browsing pamie.com and Feministing. The writers and readers of Feministing had some choice words for Mr. Hitchens. But pamie's post on the subject this Saturday was the one that sparked the "comedy blog war," i.e. humorous yet informed discussion, that I'm hoping to contribute to.
The first retallion shot was fired over the bow by pamie's friend Irwin on his blog, From Studio Twelve A. Irwin is currently "holding a knife to [his] penis" because "girl writers are getting hired just because they are girls ALL THE TIME. And some of them, aren't funny. Or they are funny, but not as funny as other people. This is fact." He asserts that since women comedy writers are as rare as "polar bears, or Native Americans" they are in higher demand, and are therefore taking away jobs from him and his fellow white male friends.
Irwin, put the knife down, and get over yourself.
pamie, who is a girl and a working comedy writer, then responded to Irwin's post with valid anecdotal evidence to prove her point. Here is one of my favorite passages:
"[Irwin's] main complaint is that a woman gets the job he thinks there are hundreds more men qualified for. There's one more slot in the room of ten writers, but instead of going to him...it goes to "some girl," and it doesn't matter if that girl is funny or not...
...Maybe the reason he's sometimes working with "the girl" who isn't funny is because in some cases when they have to hire "the girl," they go to their go-to girl: one they know won't make problems, or one they know from before, or one they don't think is pretty/sexy/flirty/single/straight enough to cause "problems," or one that has been waiting for such a chance and they're taking a risk, or whatever...Irwin fails to mention how many times he's found himself working with a man who's intensely unfunny, who every day he's like, "Guy! Why did they hire him?" Does he shrug his shoulders and go, "Must be because he's a guy. Damn this patriarchal comedy system!" No, he doesn't. The dick is never the reason why that dick got hired."
Exactly. There is usually ONE girl in the comedy writers room. ONE. The rest of the writers are guys, and they are almost exclusively white. Did Irwin ever question why most writers on television shows are white males? I doubt it. Because he'd have to take a hard look at the industry he works in, and admit his privileged place in the white patriarchal structure that runs it. He'd have to acknowledge that even though white males constitute less than 30 percent of the US population, they control over 90 percent of what goes on TV. (And countless other industries as well.) Yes, I know that Irwin is not one of the people who decides what programs go on our televisions. But the fact that he shares the same color AND gender of most of the the people who do make those decisions at every level? He needs to admit that gives him a leg up on the normalcy ladder, no matter how many polar bears and Native Americans are applying for the same job.
Today, Irwin posted a response to pamie's response. He asserts, "1. There are far less women writing comedy than men. Period." and, "2. Pamie does not fully understand because she is a great writer so it doesn't matter." He concludes his argument by stating, "now I shall go back to trying to be funny, despite the handicap between my legs."
Again, too many eye-rolling things to comment on. I will agree that pamie is a great writer, proven by the fact that I purchased both of her novels. I just get so upset when I hear or read (white) males professing, "those women/minorities are taking our jobs!"
Irwin, have you ever considered how many jobs you have gotten simply because you are a white male? Before you automatically say, "None," I encourage you to think about it. Even if "none" is the correct answer, think about why the comedy writers' world is such that a distinct effort must be made to find a "female voice" for a show. Women make up 51% of the population. Why do the people who make comedies need a special search to find out how to speak to the majority of this country?
Additionally, why do you think you need to "hire a gay guy" to fill that niche? I'm neither gay, nor a guy, but I am a writer, and I am funny.