In 2019, there was a study that aimed to prove men are funnier than women—the findings suggested that “63 percent of men were supposedly funnier than the average woman.” The study rightfully received tons of backlash; in the wise words of Danish comedian Sofie Hagen: “It’s also f**king ignorant.”
Women comedians are just as funny as their male counterparts and, in the past few years, have received well-deserved praise from audiences who’ve watched their hilarious streamable sets. It’s important to support women in comedy since they remain underrepresented in this field and are affected by archaic notions about male comedic superiority. Moreover, they’re just plain good at their jobs and will give you some great laughs. Here are seven of the best women comedians.
Ali Wong’s humor is totally fearless and brutally honest, making her Netflix specials Hard Knock Wife and Baby Cobra super enjoyable. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Asian-American studies, expecting to go into academia until she found her true passion in stand-up comedy. Wong’s sets shed light on gender issues, pregnancy, motherhood, and so much more. Early in her career, she made Variety’s list of “10 Comics to Watch” and was featured on several shows such as John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show thereafter. In addition to her stand-up routines, she has written a bestselling memoir entitled Dear Girls, is executive producer of the Netflix show Tuca and Bertie, and both starred in and co-wrote the movie Always Be My Maybe.
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Iliza Shlesinger’s witty commentary covers modern social issues, double standards, marriage, and pop culture. Her comedic career began when she won MySpace’s So You Think You’re Funny contest in 2007 soon after graduating from Emerson College, and she was later recognized by NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008. Since then, Shlesinger’s popularity has skyrocketed; she has written Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity, a series of essays on the inner musings of a confident woman, released a podcast called AIA: Ask Iliza Anything and was on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She’s known for being relatable and for her critical observations about life.
Taylor Tomlinson’s comedy career began when she was in high school. Now at only 26 years old, she’s been featured on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, CONAN, and made the prestigious “10 Comics to Watch” list for Variety in 2018. Her sense of humor is clever and creative while also being mature and clean, making her appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Nikki Glaser doesn’t shy from talking about all things related to women’s sexuality. Her humor is raw and raunchy while also witty and emotional. She often touches on her own challenges with overcoming insecurity and dealing with mental illnesses, giving her show not only comedic appeal but also a dose of self-help. Glaser started experimenting with comedy during her time at the University of Kansas, and she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CONAN shortly after. In addition to her stand-up routines, she has also cohosted podcasts called You Had To Be There and We Know Nothing, and she began hosting the show Blind Date on Bravo in late 2019.
Cristela Alonzo’s humor is critical and observational, as she reflects on her identity, challenges of growing up, and experience as a Mexican-American woman. She first got into stand-up comedy as a way of coping with grief and loss after the death of her mother in 2003 and, years later, became wildly popular in doing so. Alonzo created, wrote, and starred in the show Cristela; continues to be a prominent guest host on The View; and engages in powerful advocacy work for organizations dedicated to immigrant and women’s interests. Her first book, Music To My Ears: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up, was released in 2019.
Tiffany Haddish keeps it real with her audience, never shying away from heavy topics that many other comedians tend to avoid. Her career started when she appeared on Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes in 2007, and she was featured on popular shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and That’s So Raven. Her most prominent role, though, was in the 2017 hit movie Girls Trip. After her Netflix special in 2019, she’s only continued to gain popularity and is the star of the 2020 studio comedy Like a Boss.
Daily Express described Katherine Ryan’s humor as “being very funny without losing sight of the living, breathing hearts of others.” Her Netflix specials reflect this; she has a great way of interacting with her audience, telling stories, and conveying every one of her well-crafted jokes. While studying at the University of Toronto, Ryan spent her free time working on her comedy routine at open-mic nights. After graduation she appeared on the Canadian show Video on Trial in 2005, before moving to England where she was featured on several BBC shows including Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. More recently, in 2018, Ryan joined The Fix, a comedy panel show on which she is a team captain.
You may remember Aditi Mittal from her feature in Stand-Up Planet, the 2014 documentary that featured the routines of several international comedians in a Hollywood showcase. Since then, she’s gained popularity—and for good reason. Mittal’s stand-up routines capture the essence of struggles faced by single Indian women. She touches on her experiences growing up in India and defying the norms Indian women are often expected to uphold. Her sense of humor is snarky and smart, and her confidence shines through as she tackles hard-hitting, personal subjects like sex, family, and growing up. Mittal is one of the most notable stand-up comedians in India according to The Times of India, made the list of BBC’s "100 Top Women in 2014," and was featured on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show. (In full transparency, she did deal with some #MeToo allegations, which you can read about here.)
Maria Bamford gives audiences the harsh reality checks they never knew they needed. Dealing with mental illness, family issues, and awkwardness in intimacy, her humor is so truthful it makes audiences uncomfortable in the best way. Old Baby pivots from various locations (onstage, in Bamford’s house, in public) to keep audiences hooked and is seriously one of the most unique standup sets out there. Bamford did her first tour, Burning Bridges, in 2003, after getting into stand-up and improv comedy while studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She’s been the voices of characters on popular animated shows like American Dad!, Adventure Time, and BoJack Horseman; and in 2016, Netflix created a series called Lady Dynamite based on Maria Bamford’s life, for which she was part of the writing process.