Feminism is No Joke
With insightful wit, female comedians play a valuable role in advancing the cause of women – using humor to help their audiences rethink how to act. In honor of Galentine’s Day, we celebrate the genius of women who’ve shifted paradigms with laughter.
Challenging social norms
Moms Mabley, born Loretta Mary Aiken in the late 1800s, is credited as being the first successful female stand-up comedian. She began her career in vaudeville, then created the persona of ‘Moms,’ transitioning into standup when she was in her 20s. With the wisdom of a grandmother, she advanced the dialogue about civil rights and pressed for women’s rights.1
Moms was the first female comedian to perform at the Harlem’s Apollo Theater in 1939. She gained widespread popularity after she started recording comedy albums in the early 1960s, and entertained audiences for more than 50 years.1
Encouraging women’s careers
Lucy Ricardo and her sidekick, Ethel Mertz, tried time and again to show husbands Ricky and Fred they could be more than housewives. I Love Lucy debuted six years after the end of WWII, when women had proven they could fill workforce gaps and serve in the armed forces. Yet, after the war, many women reluctantly returned to the kitchen.
While other 1950s TV shows depicted women as content stay-at-home wives and mothers, Lucy and Ethel challenged the stereotype. Although Lucy got tipsy pitching ‘Vitameatavegamin’ and she and Ethel couldn’t keep up with the chocolate factory conveyor belt, the show (which ran for six seasons and won four Emmy awards) garnered countless laughs protesting the idea that women shouldn’t work outside the home.2
Fostering female friendships
Thanks to Amy Poehler and her Parks and Recreation alter ego, Leslie Knope (and former Parks and Rec writer Aisha Muharrar), this Thursday, February 13th, has become widely known as Galentine’s Day. It’s a day dedicated to energizing female friendships and bonding with girlfriends over waffles at brunch.3 Amy Poehler recognizes the value of women supporting women and leverages her successful comedic career to advance other women and girls. Her company, Paper Kite Productions, is an all-female production company and the movie Wine Country, her directorial debut, starred her women friends from Saturday Night Live.4 And, Amy Poehler’s ‘Smart Girls’ website produces content encouraging girls to be their authentic selves.5
Questioning what it means to be a feminist
In the first episode of Fleabag, a comedy-drama created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Fleabag, she and her sister Claire attend a feminist lecture. When asked if they would trade five years of their lives for the perfect body, they both raise their hands to answer ‘yes’ then question if this makes them bad feminists.6 However, in both Fleabag and Killing Eve, for which she was head writer in Season 1, Phoebe Waller-Bridge emboldens her female characters to be honest and empowers them by eliminating gender stereotypes ─ the true spirit of feminism.
Share laughs with your girlfriends over waffles this Galentine’s Day. And, let them know you have their backs by inviting them to the next Luma Wealth event.
1 Moms Mabley, American Comedian, Encyclopaedia Britannica.
2 Moms Mabley:No Patience for respectability politics, Washington Post, November 24, 2013.
3 From the Archives: Lucille Ball Dies: TV’s Comic Genius was 77, Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1989.
4 How Galentine’s Day Went from a Sitcom Hit To A Commercial Holiday, npr, February 13, 2019.
5 Amy Poehler’s Coming-of-Rage Story: Comedy’s Subversive Star is Defining Her Own Feminism, The Hollywood Reporter, April 24, 2019.
5 Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, https://amysmartgirls.com/
6 Why It’s Okay That Phoebe Waller-Bridge is Worried About Being a ‘Bad Feminist,’ Grazia, November 3, 2019.
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