We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the dour, serious
lesbian: she’s an ardent feminist, she cares little for capitalism, and she’s
more interested in having a chip on her shoulder than finding any aspect of
We also know that much of this stereotype is untrue — lesbians
like to laugh at the world as much as anyone else. Perhaps more so.
But just what do lesbian and bisexual women laugh at?
It may sound like a strange question, but comedy is such a
powerful tool for social change — witness Ellen DeGeneres’s range of influence
and subtle transformation from a popular lesbian comedian to an advocate for
marriage equality — that we think it’s important to find out.
So we set out on a quasi-scientific (read: not at all) study
of the things that make lesbians, as a population, crack up.
We thought it best to enlist help from authorities on the
matter, so we gathered some of today’s hottest lesbian comedians — Kate
Clinton, Sandra Valls, Julie Goldman, Erin Foley, Bridget McManus, Kate
McKinnon, Page Hurwitz and Jennie McNulty — and asked what sorts of things
lesbians seem to find funny (and decidedly unfunny).
Note: additional comics were queried but did not respond by publication date.
Question No. 1: What kinds of topics or jokes do lesbian audiences always seem to respond to? What gets the most laughter?
Almost all of our experts agreed that
lesbian-specific jokes work wonders on a crowd of like-minded (and potentially
tipsy) crowds. Lesbians, lesbian sex and “celesbian” gossip were the top
answers from our comedians.
Apparently, we love laughing at ourselves.
“Anytime I joke about lesbian sex blunders, the lesbian crowd goes wild. Apparently we find lock jaw and defective strap-ons hilarious!” says Sanda Valls.
Kate McKinnon finds success touching on similar topics. “When I’m with a lesbian audience, I like to tell jokes about
the ridiculousness of how lesbians act in relationships — how we always rush in, how we seem to seek out women who are straight or have substance abuse problems, and how we never really break up.”
Kate Clinton says there’s a specific person
lesbians find funny, at least right now. “In this political season, almost
anything that draws blood from Sarah Palin [gets big laughs from a lesbian
audience]. But in general, they like anything about our lesbian lives — dating,
sex, sexy dating, family — gay and straight, lesbo-celebs, gossip, bodily
fluids and smart politics.”
Kate Clinton (left) and Kate McKinnon
Julie Goldman says, “this is a somewhat hard question to answer, but from my experience — I
think lesbians, when together as a group like any group, I think — enjoy
hearing the in-jokes of our community and stuff geared to Queer life and
Lesbian life — sex, relationships etc.”
“I think any audience responds to
pointing out the humor in simple everyday things,” says Jennie McNulty. “You
have to be careful not to be predictable or obvious, but if it’s something we
all go through it’s more likely to elicit a laugh.”
Comedians making fun of themselves is also a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Jennie McNulty (left) and Bridget McManus
“Whenever I make fun of myself the audience is usually on my side and will laugh heartily,” says
Bridget McManus. “I wish I could go back in time to when I was 12 years old and
tipping the scale at 200 lbs. I would whisper in my own ear, ‘Don’t worry
Bridget, it will all be OK. One day, hundreds of lesbians will laugh at you.’ Then
I’d tell myself to hide my diary because my sister Audrey was reading it to her