Raise your hand if you want the myth that women aren’t funny to be put to bed right now.
The world is filled to the brim with funny women. Smart, sharp witted women who have important things to say about the world we live in. 2015 was a great year for women in comedy: Comedians like Amy Schumer and Chelsea Peretti moved into the limelight; shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt arrived on Netflix; SNL currently has six female cast members (though I’m still hoping the women will outnumber the men someday soon).
There’s a lot to be learned from these hilarious women who have worked so hard to carve out a space for themselves in an industry overrun with sexism that’s hell bent on keeping them out.
Here are a few things they teach by example:
Amy Poehler: Be a woman who feels things.
Source: Huffington Post
“Vulnerablity is the key to happiness. Vulnerable people are happy people.”
Often women feel that in order to be strong, we have to deprive ourselves of normal human emotions. Amy Poehler wants to put an end to that way of thinking. She encourages women (and men) to view their emotions as strengths, not witnesses. “Opening up your heart and sharing it means that you’re going to get so much love in your life,” she said in an episode of Ask Amy.
Sasheer Zamata: Don’t let haters get you down.
“Harassment shouldn’t hinder your progress, because you have things to do—you gotta go learn, you gotta go work, you gotta go take care of yourself and keep being fabulous.”
Sasheer Zamata, SNL cast member and all-around-hilarious human being, doesn’t want you to let other people ruin your life or even your day. Instead, let your confidence be internal rather than external. In an episode of Ask a Grown Woman, Zamata says harassment, rudeness, or harsh criticism from friends or even strangers can hurt, but you have better things to do than let it bother you.
Cecily Strong: Be positive.
Source: West Elm
“This may sound hippie-dippie, even for me, but I think putting good vibes out in the universe returns some to you. I want to be remembered as a person who laughs a lot and makes the people around me feel good. That’s the true secret to leading a good life.”
SNL Castmember Cecily Strong spoke to Glamour Magazine about the things that make her a happier person. Along with taking long baths, working out, and learning to say “no” sometimes, Strong urges women to find silver linings. “You’ll be happier for it,” she promises.
Jessica Williams: Trust your gut.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
“I had to learn to trust my internal voice and my instinct.”
When Jon Stewart left the Daily Show earlier this year, the entire Internet rose up (myself included) begging correspondent Jessica Williams to step up and claim the role as host. To which Williams replied with a flat “no” and told us all to sit down. “I had to learn to trust my internal voice and my instinct,” she wrote in response to articles criticizing her for not taking over Stewart’s position. Williams proudly told the world that she knew what she wanted, what she was good at, and what she was capable of. Her gut told her not to pursue the gig, and so she didn’t. Though we still wish we could see her every night on Comedy Central, we have to respect her self-awareness and desire to do what’s truly right for her.
Margaret Cho: Take care of yourself.
Source: Digital Journal
“Please yourself first. If you’re a people pleaser, just remember that YOU are the most important person to please.”
When Margaret Cho sat down to offer sage advice to writers at Buzzfeed, a woman who identifies as a “people pleaser” asked her how she could better take care of her own needs. Margaret Cho has no problem, as a woman or a human being, subverting the stereotype that females should be self-sacrificing. “Put yourself first,” she tells us, reminding us that we’re responsible for our own well-being.
Melissa McCarthy: Do (and wear) what you want.
Source: Life and Style Mag
“I don’t like anything that tears women down.”
Melissa McCarthy, just in case you haven’t seen her work and don’t yet know, is a march-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drum sort of woman. Whether it’s your job, your hobbies, or your taste in fashion, McCarthy doesn’t want you to get caught up in the opinions of others.
“If you love something and it makes you feel great, wear it. I have two young daughters so I don’t like anything that tears women down,” she said. “I don’t believe any of the shoulds, don’ts, this is out, this is in. Because the second something’s out and then someone wears it in a new way, it just comes right back in.”
Kristen Wiig: Your opinion matters first.
“If you’re creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care about what people think.”
As a comedian breaking down barriers in a sexist industry, Kristen Wiig is no stranger to criticism. She told Movieline that she develops her characters until she personally feels good about them, and gives the criticism of others very little merit.
Mindy Kaling: Applaud others’ success.
“I would like to think this experience helped me kick off a lifetime of grace and the ability to express happiness for people who are doing well when I am not.”
In her new book Why Not Me, Mindy Kaling recounts an experience when she was given the honor of publicly announcing the year’s Emmy Nominations, only to find out that her own show, The Mindy Project, wasn’t nominated. Kaling was devastated, but she says the experience helped her become a better person. Remembering that life isn’t a competition is key to becoming the sort of person who lifts others up instead of tearing them down.