Comedians Standing up for Women
August 30, 2016 12:29 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite comedians that punch up not down really well, and are happy to take on heavy content while lifting up those who need it most instead of getting laughs at their expense?

Recently watched Steve Hofstetter taking on a sexist heckler and it was awesome. Where is more? I'm finding that just as words hurt, they also can lift up. I'm wanting to hear the voices of those who are standing up for those who need it, and can use comedy or art or podcast as the tool it can be to do good in the world.

I noticed if you search "feminist comedians" on google or youtube it's really saddening that the first choices tend to be making fun of feminist comedy. I can see why so many jump on the bandwagon making fun of feminists because they get a personal benefit from it whether they are a man or woman. Sad.

I do not want to search comedy and feel sads!!! .... Share with me the comedians who manage to be funny while not throwing the most vulnerable under the bus to do it- and particularly who ACTIVELY stand up for what's right!! It doesn't need to be stand up, funny youtube skits or tv shows or whatever are fine. I like We hunted the Mammoth, the website, but I start really feeling for this guy it seems like him against everyone- I want reminders of how many people are currently taking this on and trying to lighten the load from some who carry the heaviest burdens (even if it means burdening others who carry so little a bit at times).
posted by xarnop to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 110 users marked this as a favorite
Patton Oswalt?
posted by youknowwhatpart at 12:40 PM on August 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I went to an Aziz Ansari show a year or two ago and was pleasantly surprised to find half his bit was feminist comedy; not like making fun of feminists, but using comedy to give air time to the crazy bullshit that women are forced to deal with. It was really refreshing, hilarious, and hit a little too close to home at times.
posted by CharlieSue at 12:42 PM on August 30, 2016 [36 favorites]

Best answer: Hari Kondabolu is super social justice oriented (and funny as hell.)
posted by deliciae at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2016 [22 favorites]

Best answer: Jessica Williams
Aparna Nancherla
posted by bearette at 12:47 PM on August 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think you might love Hari Kondabolu. He's hilarious, smart, and an activist. On preview: jinx, deliciae.
posted by gladly at 12:47 PM on August 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

I went to see Hari Kondabolu's latest tour (first stop in Detroit), and he did a lot of punching up, both as regards women and POC generally.

(Just don't get him started on the ticket price.)
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Louis CK
posted by Threeve at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Patton Oswalt punches down enough that I'd rather not see him (or any white man, particularly) parked anywhere near the top of this queue just for not being literally the worst. CK quadruply so, given that he may or may not be a serial sexual assaulter and even if not, trades on jokes about being crappy to women as part of his schtick.

W. Kamau Bell comes to mind, if you're wanting men on this list.

Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher are starting to get the recognition they deserve, and their comedy is fully feminist and intersectional.

Jessica Williams, Heben Nigatu, Robin Thede - all late-night comedy writers and Black women. (Heben and Tracy Clayton, who writes for Buzzfeed, are the hosts of the hilarious and fantastic Another Round podcast. Aside from them, I'm not sure most of the women writing for late-night have any time to perform at all.)
posted by Lyn Never at 12:57 PM on August 30, 2016 [29 favorites]

Best answer: Just also remembered Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson, who will be taking their podcast to TV soonish, I think.

Also Riley Silverman, who's probably the best standup I've seen this year.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Lindy West's new book Shrill is about almost exactly this. (First link is to her Twitter)
posted by jillithd at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Check out the Two Dope Queens podcast. Each episode features 3(?) fairly new to the scene comics, all of whom are women, people of color, queer, or some combination of the above.

For straight white dudes who punch up, I enjoy Stewart Lee who I recently learned about on Metafilter.
posted by latkes at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

Wendy Liebman was/is a huge influence on Amy Schumer.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Lyn Never's thoughts on Oswalt and CK.

If it's men you're looking for, Kumail Nanjiani is a good option.

Nicole Byer and Aparna Nancherla are both awesome and hilarious.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ali Wong, although I recognize some of my fellow housewives may want to throw things at me for suggesting her. I thought her "Baby Cobra" special was hilarious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:20 PM on August 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Not exactly strict stand up comedy, but Chris Rock's film Good Hair takes on the complex topic of women's hair in a very interesting, funny and empathic way.

Also, I know people love to hate on Jimmy Fallon, but he did an interview with Howard Stern promoting his Blow your Pants Off album where Stern repeatedly makes all sorts of self aggrandizing, sexist comments, and Fallon subtly holds the mirror up to Stern's remarks to reveal how ugly they are. I found it pretty uplifting. The interview is about an hour long and easy to search on YouTube.
posted by effluvia at 1:21 PM on August 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Here's a good John Mulaney bit on realizing his own obliviousness to accidentally threatening a women late at night (and fully acknowledges his blame, and the appropriateness of her fear).
posted by veery at 1:35 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

John Oliver.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:42 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If an appropriate answer to your question would include tweeters who alternate between jokes and pointing out sexism et al (or both at the same time), I’d suggest:

posted by cathycartoon at 2:05 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to thumbs-down John Mulaney: we saw him open for Aziz in Portland two years ago, and he had trans-hating "jokes" in his set. He got booed for it, and made some kind of remark like he shouldn't have made that joke in Portland.

(Also thumbs-down on Patton Oswalt and Louis CK).

I heartily endorse Aziz Ansari and the Two Dope Queens podcast.
posted by homodachi at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Sara Benincasa is also an excellent feminist comedienne, also on Twitter, also with books, who I only recently discovered with this excellent Medium piece Why Am I So Fat?.
posted by jillithd at 2:19 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The wonderful Brent Butt (if you're Canadian, you know him).
posted by LauraJ at 2:27 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Andy Richter's Twitter, and while he's not doing a lot of stand-up specifically now, adding Paul F. Tompkins.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:39 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's a clip of David Mitchell in defense of Ann Widdecombe on an episode of Would I Lie To You that aired a million years ago.
posted by coffeepot at 2:48 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (1). Marc Maron's defense of Amy Schumer and his takedown of comedy fans' misogyny just about made me cry. The guy's far from perfect, but he'll always have a place in my heart for that.

(2) Lea DeLaria, who most of us know primarily as Big Boo on Orange is the New Black, is also an our-and-proud stand-up comic of almost frightening power. Her spoken word stuff is so intense, she was to punctuate it with jazz standards-- and, of course, she is an unqualified badass at those, too.

(3) Kermet Arpio is a Pacific Northwest established, resident ass-kicker and a national and international up-and-comer. He's politically humane and aware, and he seems (both from his act and from his social media presence) like a genuinely good-hearted human being. (Bit of a BoB, but I can forgive him that.) Arpio's stuff is a little harder to find than some of the other work suggested in this thread, but it's really worth tracking down.

(4) (a) I agree about what's been said about Louis CK, both good and bad. His bit on white privilege has been and remains an incredibly valuable teaching tool, but the accusations about his personal conduct are, IMO, horrible, credible, and unignorable.

(b) It's true that Patton Oswald's not above an occasional downward punch, but neither is Hari Kondobolu. IMO, they're still both net-positive, especially Kondobolu.

(5) Maria Bamford is a freaking national treasure.

And finally, last and (IMO), most fitting of your criteria:

(6) Mo'nique's I Coulda Been Your Cellmate Is sharp, intense, and beautiful, as well as clear-eyed and unapologetic. Because it is couched in comedy, it manages to be both an intense sharing of love, experience, and compassion, and a steel-spined call to action. Every time I watch it, it devastates me-- and I watch it pretty frequently.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:59 PM on August 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm loving this, thank you all so much, I've started pulling some of it up and it's great stuff so far! Keep sharing if anyone wants to; it'll be a great thread for anyone to reference! :) YAY!
posted by xarnop at 3:26 PM on August 30, 2016

Oh, and of course, this list could not possibly be complete without Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofolo.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:32 PM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm looking a bit tilty-eyed at your question because I can't work out if you're after the voices of actual funny female feminists (yay!) or just men talking about feminism (subdues a slight sigh and eye roll, possibly unfairly, but anyway)?

If you are also after the voices of actual female feminist comedians, give Bridget Christie a go (Stewart Lee mentioned above is lucky enough to be married to her).
posted by penguin pie at 4:14 PM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here's an example of Paul F Tompkins standing up for women: Paul F. Tompkins Fought a Troll Over the Bechdel Test, Tells All Men They Can Do Better
posted by Room 641-A at 4:21 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tig Notaro is wonderful. Here's her "no moleste!" bit.
posted by Lexica at 4:50 PM on August 30, 2016 [13 favorites]

Agree on Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford and Hari Kondabolu. Disagree strongly with those praising Patton Oswalt.

Also, you definitely want to watch the Mansplaining Hotline if you haven't seen it already.
posted by O9scar at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: "I'm looking a bit tilty-eyed at your question because I can't work out if you're after the voices of actual funny female feminists (yay!) or just men talking about feminism (subdues a slight sigh and eye roll, possibly unfairly, but anyway)? "

To clarify, both. Part of why it comforts me after dealing with men telling me to go calm my tits- is that yeah, I want men to stand up to other men because I'm fucking exhausted of it. And I agree- this can be done badly, and it should not be the forefront of feminism or women lead movements, but neither should it all fall on the shoulders of those being harmed, ya know? But please YES feminist female comics, I was so overwhelmed seeing how many feminist women comics got so much hate on youtube, wtf.

And Luis CK was actually something I watched and just cringed cause it was too painful to watch, can't deal. Hadn't heard of Patton Oswalt-- love these links thank you everyone. LOL love the hotline!!!
posted by xarnop at 5:06 PM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

From everything I've heard, Ron Funches.

Also, the show @midnight has lots of great women comics to discover, and while it can be hit-or-miss, Chris Hardwick is pretty good about making fun of idiot geeks and nerds that may be topics of the show and doesn't usually book gratuitous comics. (In general, punching down usually doesn't go over well.)
posted by Room 641-A at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Start with the hilarious podcast The Guilty Feminist and work out from there to the hosts and guests. One of the hosts, Deborah Frances-White, has another funny podcast Global Pillage which is a diversity-based comedy panel show. (The other host, Sofie Hagen is awesome too)

Sarah Millican, Sarah Pascoe and Josie Long are also hilarious comedians who happen to specifically address feminism or diversity issues (and have been guests on the Guilty Feminist).
posted by coleboptera at 5:33 PM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Michelle Wolf
posted by schadenfrau at 6:19 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: DeAnne Smith is often very very vocal against casual racism, especially here in Australia where even the more "progressive" comedians fall back on it.
posted by divabat at 6:21 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

N'thing Two Dope Queens and Lindy West. You should check out Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher's Seeso show Take My Wife. It's a sitcom loosely based on their lives as a couple doing comedy.

Also Jackie Kashian (currently opening for Maria Bamford on her tour) and Laurie Kilmartin (a writer for Conan O'Brien) and their podcast The Jackie and Laurie Show which is about women in comedy. Bonus is that they pick a female comedian of the week to plug each show.
Also, you might want to check out Jen Kirkman and her new special.
posted by siouxsiesmith at 7:16 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

> the show @midnight has lots of great women comics to discover, and while it can be hit-or-miss

...or miss or miss or miss. I used to watch it every night, but it seemed to get less funny and more "jokes about how sexy boobs are" as time went by, always with a presumed male audience.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:13 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Jen Kirkman is one of the smartest, funniest comedians I have ever seen. I had the pleasure of seeing her dismantle a male creep in front of a packed theater audience (that creep happens to be the owner of Voodoo Donuts).
posted by munchingzombie at 8:22 PM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Came back to mention Jen Kirkman, yes, she's great!

Too bad about @midnight, though. I guess it's been a while since I watched it every night but OnDemand I can pick who is on, which probably mitigates that a little.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Margaret Cho all day long. PLEASE memail me if you don't have access to her stuff.

I cannot stand @Midnight's sexism and when I voiced my dissatisfaction with it, Hardwick got all offended and said it was terrible to say such a thing. I watch it because I am a lover of comedians, but that show revolves around men and their dicks.

Jamie Killstein is socially responsible almost to a fault. He's so woke, he tries to preach to feminists about who can and cannot be a feminist. But there are worse things.

Patton Oswalt writes a great game; he gets it. He really does. I've been following him for years and he doesn't let me down. It's just his material for standup isn't socially aware as we'd like...but he IS liberal and becoming more aware of what women deal with with every special. His open letter to joke theives touched on rape culture in a way I wish most comedians would more often. He is nothing like Louis CK. He is also great just as a comedian, period.

Kathy Griffin will never be on the wrong side of history, and she's a champion for LGBT rights and feminist AF. Queens of Comedy is also hilarious and uplifting, but a tad dated. I love it still.

You may also want to check out documentaries about female comedians. "Why We Laugh" by Joan Rivers, "Women Aren't Funny" by Bonnie MacFarlane, and PBS's "MAKERS: Women In Comedy" to find socially aware comedians.

But yeah, Margaret Cho is *everything*:

If you are a woman, if you're a person of colour, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are a person of intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world.

And it's going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. Especially women's and gay men's culture. It's all about how you have to look a certain way or else you're worthless. You know when you look in the mirror and you think 'oh, I'm so fat, I'm so old, I'm so ugly', don't you know, that's not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn't turn around shit.

When you don't have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for, you will hesitate to ask for a raise, you will hesitate to call yourself an American, you will hesitate to report a rape, you will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue
― Margaret Cho
posted by JLovebomb at 9:44 PM on August 30, 2016 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Wanda Sykes, especially the legendary Detachable Pussy joke
posted by sallybrown at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

The Baroness von Sketch show has its moments that fit the bill.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:16 PM on September 5, 2016

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