Once upon a time in, well, Hollywood, men ruled the stand-up comedy world. Women who attempted to break into performing live comedy faced daunting odds and sexist-fueled opposition — both overt and subtle. Legendary comics like Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Moms Mabley finally found success in the ‘50s and ‘60s — and that helped set the stage (literally) for other women to follow.
Notice that today the word “comedienne” is obsolete. Finally.
We thought Friday’s National Tell a Joke Day would be the perfect time to highlight five exceptionally funny women with stand-up specials currently streaming on Netflix.
Sarah Silverman — ‘A Speck of Dust’ (2017)
Review: It’s easy to be gross and even easier to offend, but Silverman has endured as a comedic mainstay because she can do both without seeming like she’s trying to just to get a rise out of viewers. “A Speck of Dust” is not her best material, but it might be her most assured. — David Sims (The Atlantic)
“When you’re a comedian now, you really have to think things through before you post them on Twitter. Who do we think we are — presidents?”
Wanda Sykes — ‘Not Normal’ (2019)
Review: “Not Normal” has plenty of moments that stand out on their own, more than justifying the few bits that feel a little thin. Sykes, especially when she moves to the personal, is in peak form. — Kathryn VanArendonk (Vulture)
“Nobody respects Trump. They let him walk up on Air Force One with toilet paper on the back of his shoe. You would stop a ‘stranger’ to get toilet paper off of their shoe. I’ve been in airports…and tracked people down for 10 gates….”
Hannah Gadsby — ‘Nanette’ (2018)
Review: Gadsby spins her own life story – encompassing the trauma of abuse and the isolation of rural life — into a clever, raging and confronting spiel against misogyny, homophobia and even the tired old tropes of comedy itself. — Lauren Carroll Harris (The Guardian)
“I love being mistaken for a man. I wouldn’t want to be a straight white man — not if you paid me. Although the pay would be substantially better.”
Ali Wong — ‘Hard Knock Wife’ (2018)
Review: Wong, who earned acclaim for her fabulously raw 2016 special “Baby Cobra,” picks up right where she left off — and she’s just as pregnant as she was last time. Her new set is filled with searing takes on the limits of maternity leave and the disappointments of early motherhood. Dad jokes, step aside. — Ashley Hoffman (Time)
“I did not understand that the whole price you have to pay for staying at home is that you gortta be a mom. That’s a job! You get no 401(k), no coworkers. You’re in solitary confinement all day long — with this human Tamagotchi — that don’t got no reset button, so the stakes are extremely high…”
Amy Schumer — ‘Growing’ (2019)
Review: Schumer’s reconciling her well-established identity as a callous, self-deprecating party girl with her more recently acquired role as a wife and soon-to-be-mother — or, at least, she’s easing the transition between them. — Alison Herman (The Ringer)
You’re pregnant but it doesn’t change who you are. I hate women who start to act like they’re really precious. You don’t stop being you, you know, you don’t stop working or…. drinking.