There are times when being a grown-up woman is like walking around with a sign that says “I’m part of a marginalized group and therefore my life has political, emotional, and personal obstacles that you will never experience, assuming you’re a straight white guy.” If you’re a female comedian, as I am, most guys would prefer that you put that sign away, because it distracts from the jokes. Bringing up the dumb misogyny that’s a part of the comedy world — the all-male lineups, the sexist jokes — is really hard to do in a way that doesn’t make you seem like you're a permanently earnest college sophomore.
Which sucks for female comedians, because we hate being earnest. We want to end sexism in comedy not out of self-righteousness, but because we want the same opportunity as any dude to stand onstage and tell poop jokes. We want misogynistic jokes to end because they are hack jokes due to the very predictability of their premise. We are feminists out of a love of comedy.
Lauren Maul, a 29-year-old New York–based comedian, is my newest hero because she has achieved the seemingly impossible: She has found a way to make pointing out misogyny funny. It is a big step forward for women. So far and until recently, she performed this feat during a midnight slot at the Long Island City Mexican restaurant the Creek and the Cave; soon, she'll be bringing her show to Williamsburg (and a better time). Maul's brainchild is called “Dudes Being Dudes Being Dudes”: It's a show in which women and gay men dress up as the macho, heterosexual, self-confident comedians you can find at any open mike around the world, and perform sets about hating cunnilingus, striking out with women, and being important executives in their spare time.
“Some comedians have been like, This has been like therapy for me,” Maul told me before the most recent show. She hadn’t put on her wig and mustache yet, the transformation needed to turn her into Scott Talentt, one of the hosts of D.B.D.B.D., who likes making jokes about semen that end with “GET OVER IT.” In costume, she looks alarmingly like Dov Charney.
But the show’s goal is not for women to go onstage in male drag and make didactic statements about sexism — though Maul had to turn down a few women who wanted to do exactly that. The show’s goal is comedy, and though the satire is pointed, it’s not overbearing. These non-dudes have surreal and raunchy takes on being a man, the kind of jokes that it would be harder for an actual dude to write because they require an alien perspective — and an acute awareness of the dumb male gaze. I saw Maul go on a long, absurd rant about how tiny she expects women’s nipples to be.
“I think that love and hate are two similar emotions,” said stand-up Chrissie Mayr, as alter ego “Mayr the Player.” “I know when I tell a girl I love her what I really mean is that I hate condoms.”
Every comedian was encouraged to dress up as the men they were portraying for these jokes — which they did with varying degrees of realism. “I came out in just a man's button-down, no pants,” Mayr said afterward. “But forgot to take off my heels. So when I got onstage, I said, ‘Some chick stole my pants … so I stole her shoes … and earrings.’”
The choice of venue is important. The Creek is a fairly macho comedy venue; one recent open mike I witnessed consisted entirely of Louis C.K.–acolyte men, men who shared a very specific and glorified and weirdly self-serious idea of what being a comedian is like (a rock star, a hustler, a raconteur). When Maul pitched her show to the bookers at the Creek, she did so as a joke.
“I thought that they would reject it,” Maul said. And, in fact, they specifically asked her if she was making fun of all men with this show. “Not at all,” she remembers telling them. “We’re just poking fun at the norm in comedy.”
With that reassurance, the bookers agreed. But after months of performing at the Creek at midnight, Maul is moving to a new venue, Williamsburg bar Over the Eight, and an earlier slot — giving her, she hopes, an audience larger than whoever is left at the bar after too many margaritas and not enough nachos. In the process, she recruited similarly minded comedian Katie Compa to join her and Calvin Cato (a gay man who masquerades as a heterosexual dude for the show) as co-hosts. It’s a venue full of comedy bros — which is perfect for Maul.
After all, this is a comedy show with a real message, however sneakily it’s presented. “I feel like the confines of gender are suffocating and we should laugh to free them,” Maul said. “But, eh, that’s not funny.”
Most Viewed Stories
‘Weed Dick’ Is the New Way for Men to Sexually Disappoint You
Portraits of Privilege: A Teen Demands Mac ’n’ Cheese
How to Get Out of Any Party Conversation
The Big Secret of Every Dating App: Tech Doesn’t Matter
Amber Rose, Populist Slut Hero of Our Time
7 Alternatives to Those Sold-Out L.L. Bean Boots
Staving Off Cynicism at Comme des Garçons, McQueen, and Céline
Adriana Lima on Boxing, Brazilian Beauty Secrets
Why Do I Jerk Awake Right As I’m Falling Asleep?
From Our Partners
Demi Lovato's 'Vanity Fair' Photo Shoot Is Totally Nude, Totally Natural, And Totally Woah
The Art of Loving and Losing Female Friends
You Should Be Sleeping With Your Hair In A Bun–Here’s Why
The Eye Makeup Tip That Will Put Plastic Surgeons Out of Business
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesAsk Polly: How Do I Show Him My Dark Side?
Just unleash your dragons.Instagram Would Totally Free the Nipple If They Could
Blame Apple!Maybe Refrain from Tweeting 'Kill All White Men'
We know it's hard.The Unexpected Personal Connection Behind the DOMA Decision
In an excerpt from her new memoir, lawyer Roberta Kaplan describes how she first crossed paths with Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer.Lame U.S. Constitution Doesn’t Even Protect Sex Parties
What's the First Amendment even for, anyway?Even in Death, Grandma Will Not Stop Burning Alex Rodriguez
Never stop sassing.Chrissie Hynde Doesn’t Care If You Buy Her Book or Her Version of Rape
She's a rock star, not a spokesperson.Rihanna Will Never Settle
When it comes to men, she says, "I will wait forever if I have to ... but that’s O.K."Portraits of Privilege: A Teen Demands Mac ’n’ Cheese
It does not end well.Amber Rose, Populist Slut Hero of Our Time
She walked, she twerked — and she was pretty inspiring.
Even your birth control doesn’t want to take the ferry.You Think You’re Too Classy to Drink Champagne From a Bong?
Think again.‘Weed Dick’ Is the New Way for Men to Sexually Disappoint You
It's like whiskey dick, but with weed.How to Get Out of Any Party Conversation
A helpful guide.Would You Date a Guy on a Hoverboard? A Survey
An important poll for our time.Americans Just Want to Eat in Peace — So They Hide It
We're a nation who hides our snacks.All the Ceilings Women Keep Hitting Their Heads On
There's a Rob-shaped hole on the new Cosmo cover.Queen Ronda Rousey Is the First Woman to Cover Aussie Men’s Fitness
She's flexin' down under.Astrology GIFs for the Week of October 5, 2015
This week's horoscopes.