I wrote a thing on the KATG forums, and I shared it with a friend and she said “you should tweet it,” but it was a lot longer than 140 characters, so I’m transcribing it here, and then maybe I’ll tweet a link to it. If that’s how you found this, then that’s what happened. Thanks for reading if that’s what you’re doing, which it seems to be…
A podcast listener wrote this, about a recent episode:
“Iliza Schlesinger was brought up on this ep.
She is a gorgeous blonde female comedian. She played a large part on a very important stand up comedy documentary: I Am Comic.
I’d love to hear a podcast with both nerds like Micah, (whom I love very much) and this new breed of sexy comic, (you’re Iliza/ Natasha Leggero/ etc
It used to be that comedy only came from obviously / physically flawed comedian, but now we are entering an age where the ‘flaw’ might not exist/ and/ or only be perceived by artist…?
How do you feel about this new dynamic, Myq? Has the comedian’s appearance changed? Or is it simply that stand up has become more pervasive in culture?
I grew up on the concept of ‘flawed’ comedian. Is this a narrow view?”
I wrote back this:
“good question… this idea that a lot of people hold (that i think maron has expressed in this way at one point at least), that comedy is not for good-looking people to do, or a certain type of good-looking person, like a frat-type dude or a cheerleader-type hot lady… that idea has some appeal to it, from a certain perspective, but i don’t believe it’s by any means accurate, nor is your experience with comedy universal (because no one’s is).
one main difference between the past and today, as far as the comedy landscape goes, is that there are SO many more comedians today than there ever were. the more people there are, the more there are going to be that you find attractive. (also, from your language, i’m presuming you are someone who finds ladies attractive. correct me if i’m wrong. just because you didn’t say “sexy types of new comics like chris d’elia.”) also, the more comedians there are, the more women there are. so if you’re not attracted to dudes, and it used to be you just looked at dude comedians you weren’t attracted to, that could explain the idea that comedy wasn’t for gorgeous people, because you didn’t find these dudes gorgeous.
ARE comedians any less attractive than “regular people,” in general or historically? i don’t think so. have you seen regular people? there’s a huge range. are comedians less attractive on average than movie stars? maybe.
here’s the thing… the comedians job is to talk, to say things, to get across ideas, to be funny. it’s not required to look a certain way. but society’s biases might make people less likely to listen to or watch or want to look at someone who is conventionally less good-looking, so for someone who’s not gorgeous to get their message through, maybe it has to be a louder/better/different message. this is just speculation, on one front.
the other issue might be that perhaps having “flawed” looks might cause one to develop a sense of humor more, to compensate? there certainly might be something there. but that also doesn’t account for the fact that growing up, one might look one way and then another as an adult, ugly duckling-wise, you know? so a gorgeous adult might have the insecurities of their uglier teen self, and if that’s when the sense of humor was incubating, then that could explain the discrepancy (if such a discrepancy is valid). also, there’s the fact that even good-looking teenagers have insecurities, especially females in our society, who are so scrutinized that eating disorders and body dysmorphia run rampant.
one final point… you lump together people like iliza and natasha leggero as this “new breed of sexy comic,” but they are ten years apart in age, and even more in experience, so i feel like their only similarity chronologically is when you became aware of them, possibly? (iliza was born in 1983, and wikipedia says she became active as a standup in 2007,though she won LCS in 2008, so i don’t know how that start date jives, but the point is natasha is about ten years older and started performing much earlier, so to paint them with the same brush misses something, i think… full disclosure, i am much more familiar with natasha as a person and a comedian than i am with iliza, though that’s also part and parcel of her having been a comedian and person longer possibly, so she was on my radar sooner and more.) just wanted to point out and (re?)iterate that just because someone is an attractive lady to you, doesn’t mean she has everything (or much of anything, necessarily) in common with other attractive ladies, even if they’re both comedians.
so, to answer your question, i think it’s DEFINITELY the case that comedy has become more pervasive in our culture, and more prevalent in general. there are definitely more active standups now than maybe ever before, is my guess? because most of the ones that started decades ago are still around, and new ones are born all the time.
and also definitely, people can have flaws that aren’t physical. (weird to even type that.) and all kinds of things can lead people to be funny, or to want to be funny, or to become comedians. inner, outer, whatever.
don’t know if that addressed everything, but hope it addressed some!”