Where are the women comics? SXSW edition

Last week, when South by Southwest announced the initial comedy lineup at this year’s massive festival in Austin, it included 30 men and just one lonely woman. While SXSW claimed to be “disappointed” and blamed the lack of women on scheduling conflicts and low application numbers, others called “horseshit.”

Andrea Grimes, funny lady and female comic expert, wrote:

“Horse. Shit. This is akin to making yourself a bitter cup of coffee, staring at the sugar bowl, and complaining your coffee doesn’t have enough sugar in it. SXSW’s booking agent, Charlie Sotelo, has said he was “heartbroken” at the responses to the paucity of women on his bill. Well, quit being heartbroken, Charlie. I figured a guy whose job it is to watch and book comedians would know this, but I guess I’ll spell it out:

There are many, many excellent female comics to choose from. And when I say “many,” I mean that on a 30-comic bill and a national search for comics, there is absolutely no reason SXSW couldn’t come up with 15 women and 15 men of equal talent. No reason. None. Even accounting for scheduling conflicts and drop-outs, I absolutely refuse to believe that SXSW organizers could only find one female comic for its lineup. Even accounting for the fact that, according to my own ethnographic research, women will make up about 10 percent of any city’s stand-up comic population, SXSW could absolutely have found fifteen talented women to showcase.”

Thankfully, it seems SXSW heard the message. Yesterday, they added four new comics–including three women–to the lineup. Still a pretty awful ratio, but at least a step in the right direction. And as Grimes points out, “the result is an even better lineup than the original.”

As for me, I pretty much always think women are funnier than men. (Yeah, I said it.) So in honor of the fact that I will not be at SXSW (jealous!), check out my favorite funny lady these days: Maria Bamford, after the jump. The episodes are little bit-sized nuggets of weird, hilarious Minnesotan gold. Enjoy!

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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