Remember when Donald Trump signed an executive order slashing funding for abortions and women's reproductive rights in the U.S. just a couple of months ago? And when it happened, there were as many women present there as there are healthy snacks in a stoner's fridge. Zero.
Now, unequal representation of food groups in the fridges of the world is an intense debate for another day. But women constantly being under-represented in discussions that directly involve them is an easily-fixable problem, that the men of the world seem to have conveniently turned a blind asshole to.
Comedy in India is a lot like Trump's Oval Office in this regard. The women of comic fame here are few and far between. And they, ladies and gentlemen, are painfully under-represented.
A recent discussion about sexism in Indian comic industry, initiated by Anupama Chopra, featured six prominent comedians. And get this, just ONE of them was a woman with any chance at having experienced said sexism.
The hilarious, ironic, its-funny-cause-its-sad 9 minutes of this video, where the panel discussed problems that women trying to enter the funny business encounter, were cringe-inducingly dominated by the male speakers, mansplaining Indian comedy's particular brand of sexism to their audience.
"That video was just hilarious. It was what we call 'irony' in comedy! She asked about sexism while also inviting just ONE woman to the table."
- Radhika Vaz told ScoopWhoop
We've gotta figure this out. Why do you think Chopra and the other panelists thought it was okay that they had just one female comic among them?
Such gross under-representation of women in this and other significant conversations (much like in any other growing professional field) stems from the women currently in the biz, simply not being seen as the big names in comedy that are capable of representing the business's needs and ideals. And consequently, not being seen as crucial in determining the creative and ethical direction the industry takes.
But are certifiably hilarious comics like Radhika Vaz, Kaneez Surka and Mallika Dua not yet 'big names' like Tanmay Bhat or Kanan Gill because of our own biases as an audience? Is that possible?
The funny women of India are tired of hearing, "Wow, you're really funny for a girl!" We, as an audience, have decreed women as the fairer and distinctly less amusing sex, and it's not okay.
They're just 'not as funny as guys', right? And not just among the comedy pros. Even during random college/office banter among peers, a woman with wit is constantly met with outright surprise at her comic ability, and all too often, a deeply ingrained insinuation that for every funny woman, there's gotta be like five way funnier men who would probably tell the same joke better. No really, ask a funny woman you know, and she will tell you the motherf***ing struggle is real.
It's a bit like being a female engineer, in that way. So I guess you could also ask any female engineers you know.
There are funny women all around us and they're being constantly put down by this inexplicable bias of ours.
And honestly, it is we, the audience hungry for good comedy who are missing out big time if we can't get our heads out of our asses long enough to appreciate the genuinely hilarious point of view that women - y'know as a whole other gender that has a completely different experience on earth than men's - bring to the goddamn table!
India is a long way off from having our own Tina Feys and Amy Poehlers. A day when women will no longer be like the token black person in a group of super basic white folks so they can feel like they've done their part for inclusion. When the comics of true grit - men AND women alike - will call the shots, take the lead, make cool new shit happen and make life just a bit better for the rest of us unfunny sods of the world.