As a little girl I was hilarious. I would impersonate different people, their ways of talking, walking and behaving. This made my parents and sister laugh their clothes off.
Thinking about it now, it must have been really funny to see a little girl pretending to be drunk, holding invisible pants falling down. That was my uncle's addiction with alcohol I was trying to make human. In a family born out of very strong and healthy roots he was the only one having lost it. Maybe he was the weakest. Maybe he decided to be so. The pain and hardship caused by his choice penetrated his daughters' subconscious deeply. It is indeed confusing to love someone who is there but not there.
I still am hilarious, if you didn't notice, but now it is different. Having spent some time in this life, bumping my head into walls, my humor is different. I know now that there is more to that.
In this 4th part of my exploration of the victim mindset, particularly in women, we are going to go around the world and meet some other hilarious women.
They stand up strong in their human weakness making their way out of the default mode by using language in that giggly way we all like. They transform dramatic, painful, soul crushing, unjust, bleeding thoughts and happenings into stories we want to listen and remember.
You got it, I am talking about stand up women comics. The background research which produced what you are about read has shaken me. I have been exorcised.
I tried to cover a wide cultural space and I succeeded. Also, I paid the most attention to the language, the way it is being use, the spectrum, the force, the depth. Language is the healing medium in humour.
First, let's take a little step back.
A pinch of history
According to me, the language of humour has an essential characteristic - freedom. I believe this is precisely the reason we laugh. We understand that the barriers can be surmounted.
In China they have something called Xiangschen- it literally means " face and voice". It it delivered in a fast style, rich of puns and allusions. Seems that the Beijing dialect is mostly used for xiangschen. Well, I couldn't tell the difference and I spend some years among Chinese people. The joke they liked the most was when I was slightly bending asking : how are you all doing down there?! They giggled laughing many little laughs.
In Japan they have Manzai and Rakugo. Manzai is a performance requiring two people, the straight man and the funny man. To create the tension I suppose. What are they doing ? They trade jokes at great speed. Japanese even at slow speed is a mystery to me but high speed jokes I find very interesting. Here is an example.
Rakugo is a one man show. This man is letting "words fall" into a story mold, I would say. He is taking different views creating dialogues between characters noticeable once he changes the pitch, tone and maybe moves his head. Want to see one?
Both styles seem to be still actual. People over there find them funny. Now, THAT is funny :)
In Italy, late 1800s and the second part of 1900s, there was Macchietta - a spoken caricature. It find the word itself very funny, it means little spot, little stain. Aren't we all a little more or a little less stained by life? Couldn't find an old Macchietta example to show you.
Modern humor is different in content. Women humor even more so.
Women humour is charged with anger, sorrow, old secrets, unspoken formless thoughts coming out like dead babies, oppression, encrusted wounds and blood. Women humour is the voice of all belittled spirits having had the misfortune, or the great opportunity (I stick to this view), to show up on Earth as women. It is a great opportunity because it brings newness , from inside that pain.
Stand up comedy is a very harsh environment for women, I got that clearly after having listened to lots of their voices.
This is the a personal categorization according to my interests.
1. Social/Political stand up - the language is strong, direct and related to events happening on the political and social arena. Women involved in this kind of discourse are drawing attention towards the injustice, inequality and the still present gap between genders.
You might have heard of Tina Fey and Amy Pohler, both royalty voices on the comic scene speaking up for women rights, work , equal payment, rape etc. In an interview Tina Fey talks about how women are still figuring it all out ..."whether or not they choose to put their thumbs in their panties on the cover of Maxim and judge each other back and forth on it. It's a complicated issue, and we didn't go much further on saying anything other than to say, 'Yeah, it's a complicated issue and we're all kind of figuring it out as we go.'
The issue is indeed complicated, but I ask myself why is it so? Because it is not enough for women to do work on themselves, we are missing the other half.
But, I would like to talk in more details about Sarah Silverman and Negin Farsad here.
Sarah Silverman has a Micky Mouse voice (to me) and suffers from depression, like many other comedians who treat themselves by speaking in public about it.
She is a Jew woman now, ex Jew girl raped by a doctor. She thinks that Jesus is cool ( the name of one of her shows) while I believe that this graceless rawness makes us laugh. Otherwise the confusion would kill. Sarah Silverman is a loud and courageous voice. You would't say that she suffers, which is the most deceiving characteristic of humour or courageous people. Her bitter sweet jokes refer to presidents, women in the entertainment industry, being a jew, bloody periods, anal sex, guns regulation. Whatever, she does't give a shit. She hit the road in America going to people's homes talking about Trump and the whole situation. The resulting documentary is I love you America. Here is an example. Love her.
Negin Farsad defines herself as a social justice comedian and she is indeed. An Iranian American Muslim Female, she wants us to note. Born in New Haven to Iranian parents and raised in Palm Springs she studied and studied and studied gaining master titles but in the end "...the trade-off is that I’m happier doing jokes."
Her TEDex Talk "A highly scientific taxonomy of haters" was watched by millions. Her voice talks about the tension created at the margins of cultures submerged in one space, one earth. It helps us relieve the tension. Referring to being a woman comedian she says : "we ladies have to constantly remind industry folk that we have experience. I feel like women are always reciting their résumés–not because they want to but because they have to."