It’s been 10 years since Christopher Hitchens’ contentious essay “Why Women Aren’t Funny” was published in Vanity Fair magazine. It’s safe to say that we’ve come a long way since then. A quick survey of the media landscape these days points to an equal amount of funny women making their mark on comedy, whether it’s on stage or on television. Hitchens’ essay never held any water to begin with, but today, it seems even more laughable that something like that would even get published. If there was any question in your mind if women were funny, we hope we can put that argument to rest with this list.
1) Aparna Nancherla
Not since Mitch Hedberg has there been another comic who could deliver deadpan humor and hilarious one-liners better. In addition to doing stand-up, Nancherla has also been in a number of top-notch comedies including Master of None, Crashing, and Bojack Horseman. She also cohosts a podcast about depression called Blue Woman Group.
2) Ali Wong
A more than ten year veteran of the comedy scene, Ali Wong has done it all: from writing for Fresh Off the Boat for three seasons, playing a doctor in a medical drama on ABC, and, most recently, finally releasing her hour-long Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra. Her comedy runs the proverbial gamut, tackling everything from race and sex to why 18-year-olds piss her off.
3) Maria Bamford
Who says mental illness can’t be funny? Maria Bamford has the unique ability of taking material that most people might consider too dark and heavy (like suicide and mental illness), putting her own unique spin on it, and making it funny. She’s been in shows like Arrested Development, done voice acting for Adventure Time, and starred in her own critically acclaimed Netflix show, the wonderfully strange Lady Dynamite.
4) Tig Notaro
Just like Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro has a knack for turning typically uncomfortable subject matter into side-splitting half-hour comedy specials. Case in point: In 2012, Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer. Shortly after getting diagnosed, Notaro addressed her diagnosis at a comedy show in LA. The set ended up becoming legendary and would go on to sell more copies than Kiss’s album Monster. Her cancer and subsequent treatment would also go on to feature in her show One Mississippi.
5) Fortune Feimster
Proving that not all comedy needs to come from a dark place, Fortune Feimster’s stand-up is a wonderful mix of self-deprecating humor and acerbic takes on everyday life. If she looks familiar, you’ve probably seen her on Chelsea Lately, The Stand Ups, or The Mindy Project.
6) Kate Berlant
Whether it’s on her ingenious Instagram Stories, or her work with comedy partner John Early, Kate Berlant has proven time and again that she is one to watch. Although she has yet to break through the mainstream, with stints on Joe Swanberg’s Easy and the popularity of her Vimeo series 555, which was produced by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric, it’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world wises up to her comedic genius.
7) Chloe Fineman
I could tell you all about Chloe’s comedy, or you could just watch her recent impression of Melania Trump and become equally obsessed yourself.
8) Lauren Lapkus
You might recognize her as Susan Fischer, one of Litchfield’s prison guards in the show Orange Is the New Black, but aside from the slew of guest starring roles Lapkus has on her resume, it’s her excellent improv skills that really shine. In her podcast With Special Guest Star Lauren Lapkus, Lapkus leaves it up to her guests to choose what character she has to inhabit for the episode. Lapkus is ingenious, switching swiftly from one fully realized character to the next, without ever missing a beat.
9) Phoebe Robinson
As one half of the popular podcast Two Dope Queens with fellow comedy ‘kween’ and Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, Robinson has already garnered herself a steady following. But aside from her work with Williams and the Dope Queens brand, Robinson can more than hold her own on the stand-up stage. Robinson tackles a lot of heavy-hitting themes in her stand-up with a confessional slant that makes you feel like you’re chatting with a good friend.