6 Lessons From the Women Who Are Shattering Comedy’s Glass Ceiling

6 Lessons From the Women Who Are Shattering Comedy’s Glass Ceiling

In 1999, Tina Fey became the first female Saturday Night Live head writer. Today, 22 years later, women still face exponential barriers to breaking into the entertainment and comedy industries. According to Zippia, among stand-up comedians, 85.2% are men and only 11.8% are women. The study also found that 62.3% of all stand up comedians are white, while 15.4% are Hispanic or Latino and 10.2% are Black.


In addition to the lack of diversity in the comedy space, there is also the common notion that women aren’t funny. The question remains: Will the world of comedy always be a homogeneous space with few women or people of color? What progress has been made toward diversity and inclusion and what work is still left to be done?


The Female Quotient, along with Citi and New York Comedy Festival, hosted the first ever Citi Presents: Comedy Included where we explored the topics of diversity and inclusion in comedy. On the “Who’s Laughing Now: Shattering Comedy’s Glass Ceiling” panel, we spoke with comedians and content creators about their experiences being women in the comedy field — both the obstacles and biases as well as their triumphs.


Here are a few tips they shared about breaking through the barriers of the comedy industry:


Be your most authentic self.

“The whole point of comedy is to be yourself. If there is a young woman in the audience and she sees me on stage, she will think that she can do it too,” said Leah Lamarr, actress, writer and comic. “I want to be a role model for anyone who feels like they have to fit the needs of society and help them know that they don’t have to fit into a box.”


Find your own path. There is no one way to succeed in comedy.

“Creators have their own platforms, and there’s no one way to do things. Whatever the advice people are getting, I think you just need to do what inspires you to create,” shared Isabella Kulkarni, Creative Executive of Audible Originals.


Honor yourself and acknowledge your successes.

“You are a queen on stage. You are a queen off stage,” said Gina Brillon, comedian, actress and writer. “There is no difference in your power. Let me honor myself as a woman and give myself props. As women, we forget to take pride in the battles we fight.” 


Get a support system.

“Being Asian, being a female and being in NYC are all very challenging. I definitely had a lot of insecurities. I pushed forward by just being around very supportive environments and people who empower women. Sometimes, they give me feedback. It’s really about surrounding yourself with a lot of people who empower you,” shared comedian Macy Kwok.


Don’t be afraid of the consequences that come with breaking barriers.

“People are not going to like it, but you have to brush it off. When you are trying to make change, it goes back to the ‘don’t interrupt me’ mentality. If you are going to say something, you better have conviction behind what you are saying, particularly if you are a woman. Be able to have conviction and stick to your guns,” added Brillon. 


Keep going after failure.

“I failed so many times and ignored the noises in my head,” Kwok shared. “I just kept going forward. I have learned that I just have to enjoy the process. I think it’s better to focus on my own journey and my path than focusing on the end results.”


Hear more insights from these amazing and hilarious women blazing the trail of comedy. All sessions are on FQ’s YouTube channel. 

How have you been inspired by women in comedy? How have female comedians furthered the fight for gender equality?


Lead image via Gina Brillon

Written by

Stephanie, who affectionately goes by Stevie, is the content strategist for The Female Quotient. Her passion for storytelling has sustained her career in magazines and online content for the past decade as an editor, reporter and writer. She has lived a number of lives from an event assistant to a creative writing teacher in juvenile halls to the former Online Managing Editor at Darling Magazine.