Everette Lynn Harris was an American author. Openly gay, he was best known for his depictions of African-American men who were on the down-low and closeted.
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Lynn Harris is founder of the early-stage startup GOLD Comedy (
There are plenty of funny women. Why would you think girls and women can't do comedy?
Hi! Agree--so many funny women! So many more we haven't even heard of yet! And of course they can do comedy. Almost everyone who works hard at it can do comedy. And it is hard for EVERYONE. But fact is, women (and other folks who are different) are playing at an even higher difficulty setting than (white) dudes. So I just want to open doors and make things a little easier and more welcoming.
Have you heard of Hope Flood's Comics Rock Convention? It was originally for women only and now she allows men due to low participation numbers. Do you believe that women are scared to join the comedy ranks or is it that women don't get as much help as men? I'm a male comedian who absolutely loves performing with women but where I'm at there are only roughly 5 female comedians.
I hadn't, but I have now! Good to know about. I can't speak to that convention in particular and what's up with that changing ratio, but I can say that--while not every woman gets directly harassed or masturbated in front of (like THAT would ever happen!)--some scenes and situations can be more supportive and welcoming than others. I definitely think, at BEST, people like to hire and book their friends, and often their friends are people who look like them. It's great that you love performing with women, and you should. Not just to be nice and SUPER FEMINIST GUY or whatever but because -- as Cameron Esposito #idol has pointed out -- more women and people who are "different" in a given lineup make EVERYONE look more interesting and contrasting with each other by comparison. I didn't put it as well as she did just now, but that's the idea. (I'll see if I can find a moment to get that link for you.)
What tips could you suggest to help me work up the courage to go perform at an open mic comedy event?
Most of my worry is fear of being unable to handle any hecklers; what tactics do you use if you are heckled?
Great question. I have GREAT NEWS FOR YOU!
Hecklers don't go to open mics!
Other great news:
Especially when you're new, the audience will NEVER BE ON THE HECKLER'S SIDE. You=ballsy. Heckler=bully. Ignore.
Two side notes: (1) We have lots of great advice and comebacks from comedians on our website,
This story is mostly true, but the point is, even being mildly heckled was totally worth it.
Anyway, about open mics (or, just "mics"). The advice is to just GO. Write some stuff beforehand, and go. Go again. Go again. Mostly the audience is other people scribbling their own sets down in notebooks, so you'll be fine. :) But seriously, mics are crucial. If you want to learn how to prep some material, >advertorial< you should def check out our brand-new one-of-a-kind (and FUN) online class:
How much of being funny is innate vs skills developed?
This is a great question, and -- like who would win in a barfight, Batman or Superman -- ULTIMATELY UNANSWERABLE. That said, I think there are some people who can more intuitively connect the funny dots, just like there are people who can more intuitively cook, play music, whatever. THAT SAID, that's not at all set in stone, because the key factor in comedy is not a GIFT, but WORK. If you're gifted but don't do the work, you will not get better and succeed. If you're less gifted but driven and dogged and you PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, you can be the comedy tortoise who wins the race REALLY SORRY ABOUT THAT METAPHOR
What do you think about the idea that “people should be able to make jokes about anything”? Where do you fall on rights vs responsibility? Thanks!
People should be able to make jokes about anything.
They just have to be good jokes. What's a "good joke"? One that's "provocative"? That's bullshit cover for "rough draft of a joke."
Good jokes make fun of the thing that is inherently funny to make fun of. This came up a TON in 2001, when I was still doing standup. MUCH conversation, obviously, about jokes "about" 9/11. My friend Ritchie Duncan, then a great standup, had a great way of thinking about it: you can't make fun of the "rock" (the attack itself, the victims: nothing inherently funny there) but you can make fun of the "ripples" (the media coverage, our helpless response).
The obvious up to date example is rape jokes. Of COURSE you can make rape jokes. About the ripple: ridionkulous examples of rape culture, etc. etc.
I like to talk about this because people THINK it's about "being p.c." It's not. I mean that's related, but it's a separate conversation. From the neutral, non-emotional point of comedy CRAFT, the way comedy physics work, it's funnier to make fun of something MORE powerful than you, not less.
Do you have a good story about a girl that went to your workshop and is now doing comedy?
Yes! Oh, I love them all so much. Several of them went on to do a handful of open mics, which is no small thing. They're still up for doing more -- we're working with them on scheduling and chaperoning. :) Another cross-section went on to do their/our own GOLD show at the Cinder Block Comedy Festival. One went on to get a spot as a freshman on the improv team at Tufts, which is HUGE. And a whole bunch of them appear and perform in our comedy videos and online comedy class!
I'm super wary of "feminist" male comics since everything that was revealed about Louis CK, but who do you think are actual male allies working in comedy now? What would you say to them about what women and girls need to be supported in this industry?
I am super wary of EVERYONE! I was just saying to my husband that as of yesterday's fallout that I think we're down to him, our dads, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. So I am super afraid of naming names because maybe yesterday I might have said AT LEAST WE STILL HAVE LAKE WOBEGON. That said...
Women and girls need:
1. Not to be labeled "humorless" when they're mad or telling the truth.
2. To be at least half of every lineup.
3. Not to be called "comediennes."
How do you feel about the Amy Schuemer "brand" of women's comedy- basically just talking about one's ladyparts?
Hi! You know, I have different opinions about different comics and their material, but it's not based on gender. I don't have an opinion about what women or men or anyone "should" or should not talk about -- it's a matter of taste for me. That said, one reason I think it's important to have (even) more women and diversity in comedy in general is that there'll be SO MUCH MORE ROOM for so many different styles -- it'll be pretty impossible to peg one person's style as representative of "women's" comedy, say. It'll just be comedy, like it or not.
What are the best venues and comedy festivals for female comics?
Ah, great question. Right off the bat I would DEFINITELY say the Cinder Block Comedy Festival, which happens in NYC in the fall. They debuted --- very successfully -- last year and made some waves because they offered a slightly lower submission fee to women, LGBTQ, people of color, and people with disabilities. Naturally, this caused MUCH COSMIC FREAKOUT. And brought them great success and killer lineups. There are definitely dudes -- even straight white ones! -- in the festival, but the whole thing feels just really awesome, like naturally like a cross-section of COMEDY IN ACTUAL REAL AMERICA. There are more....
More and more clubs in New York, large and small -- and not just the flagship Caroline's -- are run by women, which is great. One of the big things is not only that we need more women IN comedy, we need more women RUNNING, PRODUCING, AND GATEKEEPING comedy.
There's also the Women in Comedy Festival, out of Boston. They do stuff year round as well. https://wicf.com/
> than (white) dudes.
Why are you so adamant about reiterating skin color, as if it matters? What does skin color have to do with women in comedy?
There's a (fading, yes, but lingering) sense, articulated or not, that "comedy" is done by straight white dudes. Everyone else is a "genre."
Being respected and treated like any other normal human... but funnier!
LOL! Sorry, I just saw this. Love your answer. I fold.
Right. I suppose I could have worded it better. The idea that Schuemer's career is based on the one trick pony of lady part jokes alone as the main "meat" of her jokes- do you think that is hurting female comedians and turning others away from the craft?
Well, I agree that she has a "bawdy" persona. (<< Sorry, that was my mom typing.) But I think she should do what she wants, and people -- female comics -- will do what they want. There WAS a time when there was a SENSE that you had to be vulgar to be down with the dudes. Not everyone took that "advice," but it was in the mix. Now I think there are enough female comedians that Amy doesn't define "WOMEN'S COMEDY," which itself is not a thing. I can't imagine anyone saying "I'm not going to do comedy because Amy Schumer said 'vagina.'" They'd be ignoring the 23084395 other women who say lots of other words. And I still go back to my earlier point. The (even) more women we have in comedy, the more no ONE woman is thought to define "women's comedy" (sic).
>Fact is I could name more black comedians than white comedians. In fact, the most successful comedians right now are black. Kevin Hart holds that crown, easily.
FWIW, "You keep interjecting race as if that's relevant to female comedians" sounds like female comedians have no race. Which would be funny!
But I see what you're trying to get at. The thing is, you CAN'T separate gender or race or anything like that into nice clean separate bowls like a baking project. In comedy as in life, we have (and this word is often overused/misused these days), INTERSECTING identities. Some of those identities are have more power than others; some have less. Like, I'm white, which helps me in many ways, but I'm a woman, which makes other things more challenging. Same in comedy. So for many reasons, I'm leading with the idea of getting more women into comedy, but it's impossible to 100% isolate WOMEN from all the other identities and orientations that make comedy easier/harder for you, depending on who you are and where you are at a given moment.
(WHEW! And now, class, open up your Kinko's packets!)
That...doesn't really answer the question. I think women in comedy is a good thing, don't get me wrong. But to build a routine specifically around female body parts isn't the way to go, or even stand out. Male comedians, of course, do make male organ jokes, I'm not saying it's bad to either. I think a successful act should cover more than just one thing, however.
I agree with you about what makes a successful act. I also think that ANYONE can write a great joke about ANYTHING, as long as it's a great joke.
Do you think content of CK be removed or discouraged. I know what he did was wrong but do you think his past work be connected to his personal life/professional behavior? His jokes are as funny as they were yesterday.
Yes, if you remember his "I have a peach!" bit you will remember something that still makes me laugh almost daily. That said, I'm interested in thinking about all the "past work" that literally didn't happen because women left jobs or clubs or otherwise missed opportunities because of harassment and the like. It's abstract to think about it in the past, but I'd like to make that not happen in the future.
She wouldn't know
Hi Andy! Thanks for being part of the conversation today. Who are your favorite comedians? What comedy do you enjoy, etc. Just curious to see who's in the crowd today.
You are only reinforcing the idea that women are "less than". You seem to think that women need your help to be funny or to stand out. While I'm sure you have the best intentions you are in fact reinforcing the idea that men and women are not inherently equal. I acknowledge that it has been difficult for women to break into comedy in the past, but I just don't buy that argument anymore. I don't think you're giving female comedians enough credit, or maybe you're giving male comedians too much credit. In the history of Saturday Night Live there have been two comedians who were hired after their first audition. The first was Will Ferrell and the second was Kristen Wiig. Somehow she manages to be hilarious without people pandering to her gender. I have to wonder, do you think up and coming female comedians really need your help, and if you do than why don't you believe male comedians do?
I see what you're saying, but I don't think anyone "needs my help." (My nine-year-old definitely doesn't need my help tying his shoelaces, FFS, so I wish he would stop asking.) The playing field needs leveling.