Exercise 8: Introduction for Assignment 4

Aleyna Argeso

WTEII: Funny or Not

Why Do Men Dominate Stand-Up Comedy? (Introduction)


Men have been dominating comedy for centuries, and the comedic style “stand-up comedy” is no exception to this trend.  When most people try to envision a stand-up comedian on stage, the image that comes into their mind is that of a man. Subconsciously, individuals have a tendency to associate men with stand-up comedy, and they acknowledge on some level that stand-up comedy is a largely male field. The roots of this sociological trend have to be investigated in detail in order to shed light into the field of comedy studies. So, what specific factors contribute to the gender disparity in stand-up comedy and enable men to rule this comedic form? Is it simply the fact that women aren’t as funny as men or are there other reasons behind the phenomenon? Based on the research conducted on this topic and preconceived ideas about the subject, it can be asserted that men’s dominant position in stand-up comedy isn’t because women aren’t as funny as men but arises from the barriers imposed on women both by the society and by themselves. Society has been actively trying to exclude women from stand-up comedy due to the hegemonic masculinity notions and prey/predator mindset present in the society, and because of these reasons, female stand-up comedians aren’t given the same chance as male stand-up comedians.  Moreover, numerous women are opting not to enter the stand-up comedy world as they believe that the content covered in stand-up comedy do not go in line with their maternal roles and other feminine characteristics that are expected of them; hegemonic masculinity plays an essential role in this regard as well since the majority of women prefer to adapt the conventional roles assigned to them to fit into the society. To be more specific, “status”, “maternality” and “femininity” perceptions of hegemonic masculinity lead to the societal and self-induced barriers imposed on women with regard to entering stand-up comedy. However, since hegemonic masculinity is gradually losing its power in the global society and  feminist ideals are becoming more prevalent, more opportunities are given to female comedians and the male dominance in stand-up comedy is losing its strength.

Exercise 6: Proposal for Research Paper

This research paper will attempt to give a plausible answer to the following question: “Why do men dominate stand-up comedy?” Various articles related to this issue will be investigated to find a logical explanation to this phenomenon, but this particular issue will especially be examined from the lens of hegemonic masculinity. More specifically, the role of gender dynamics and hegemonic masculinity in stand-up comedy will be analyzed. The research study will aim to establish a positive correlation between male dominance in stand-up comedy and hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is an anthropological term what was first popularized by the sociologist R.W Connell and refers to the presence of  a gender dynamic where men hold the socially dominant position. In hegemonic masculinity, men are perceived as the leaders of the society and are given the authority to subordinate and oppress women. Moreover, this sort of masculinity sexually objectifies women and promotes the prey/predator mindset. Research and prior background knowledge on the matter indicates that hegemonic masculinity might be allowing more men than women to enter the stand-up comedy sector. For instance, the article “ Women in Comedy: Why Is There Still A Lack Of Visible Female Comedians?” by Brogan Driscoll suggests that one factor that leads to the dominance of men in comedy is the fact that a comedian on stage possesses a high status and is regarded to be in charge of the entire room; this fact causes men to dominate stand-up comedy because such high status and control has been linked with alpha-male traits for centuries. Moreover, in his article “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, Christopher Hitchens, argues that women aren’t as funny as men and implicitly shows the prey/predator mindset as a reason for his own personal opinion. According to him, women aren’t as funny as men because they don’t need to be funny to attract the male attention. Basically, he states that comedy and women don’t necessarily go in line with each other since humor isn’t part of the sexual objectification of women. In the prey/predator mindset, women’s proper position is that of a sexual object, and according to the article by Julia Serano“Why Nice Guys Finish Last”, women feel the need to sexually objectify themselves to gain attention from men. For this reason, since humor isn’t part of the “prey” mentality, most women may not feel the need to master their comedic skills or start a career related to humor. Men, on the other hand, would be more inclined to do the opposite as humor is one of the primary tools they use to attract women. In other words, since humor part of the predator mindset in men, seeing male comedians on stage should be the expected phenomenon in society.

Further research related to this assignment will include other expert testimonies that strive to explain the dearth of women in stand up comedy as well as anthropological research that looks into the characteristics of hegemonic masculinity. During this further research, one of the primary concerns will be establishing direct links between various attributes of hegemonic masculinity and stand-up comedy.


Works Cited


Hitchens, Christopher. “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Vanity Fair, Vanity Fair, 29 Aug. 2017, www.vanityfair.com/culture/2007/01/hitchens200701.


Driscoll, Brogan. “We Know That Women Are Funny, So Why Is There Still A Lack Of Visible Female Comedians?” HuffPost UK, HuffPost UK, 26 Mar. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/26/comedy-are-women-funny-lack-female-comedians_n_5028855.html.

“Why Nice Guys Finish Last.” Emerging Contemporary Readings for Writers, by Julia Serano, 3rd ed., Bedford/St Martin’s, 2016, pp. 414–423.