Why Do Female Comedians Have to Do So Many Sex Jokes?

I have a filthy mouth and a couple of theories.

Taru Anniina Liikanen

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This is me, talking about my breasts, believe it or not. it is very serious business. Image by author.

“Not another female comic doing sex jokes.” — Man watching any female comic.

I’ve only been doing standup for a little while, but I’ve been a firm follower of this particular art form for years. And in the past decade or so, I’ve watched a real surge of interesting female comedians who have become major stars. It feels fresh and different.

I’ve also had lots of conversations about comedy with people I know, both men and women. Not everyone agrees with my assessment.

“Her special is okay, but why does she have to be so filthy?”

This is something I’ve heard quite often when talking about people like Ali Wong, Amy Schumer or Nikki Glaser. And sure, there’s a lot of talk about genitalia and sexual experiences in these women’s comedy.

But is it too much? And why is it female comedians have to do so many sex jokes?

I have a couple of theories. And a filthy mouth, sorry.

Not the Kind of Girl You Take Home

Standup is still, largely, a male-dominated field. Whenever I go to an open mic, there’s usually one woman per every four men. That means the jokes you hear are often kind of sexist, and that the people you mostly spend time with are men.

While some of the guys doing standup are the subtler, more intellectual type, this is more unusual when it comes to women. Many women who do comedy are pretty raunchy. Because for a woman to want to spend time in a comedy environment, she kind of has to be.

When I asked the guy I’m dating what he thought when he first saw me do standup, I expected him to say he was shocked or displeased. He wasn’t.

“Well, it’s you, isn’t it?”

And he’s right. It’s not that I force out jokes about sex, it’s that I’ve always been pretty open about it. And hey, I talk about some of my experiences, and even my vagina, on this platform, as well.

Maybe it’s because I’m Finnish, and I just don’t find sex to be a taboo issue. Maybe it’s because I’ve…

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Taru Anniina Liikanen

Stand-up comedian and recovering political ghostwriter. Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Bad jokes frequent.