NYWIFT Blog

NYWIFT Recap. Laughing Matters: Diverse Voices From the World of Comedy

image

Diversity in comedy has been all the buzz as of late, and on February 20, 2014, New York Women in Film and Television joined the conversation with Laughing Matters: Diverse Voices From the World of Comedy, a panel of seven female comedians. With much laughter and a riveting discussion, Laughing Matters unfolded into a memorable night.

Producer and NYWIFT board member Ylana Kellar expressed the event’s significance. “It was important to me, as a woman of color with a disability, to produce an event that spoke to [diversity]. I wanted everybody at the table,“ Kellar said. “I’ve done a lot of panels…I am proudest, of all, of this one.”

Members of the panel comprised multiple, intersectional identities, spanning various ethnicities, faiths, physical abilities, family structures, and age. Each speaker addressed the challenges and triumphs of working in comedy. As moderator, award-winning director and actor Yvonne Russo navigated the audience through common themes like self-acceptance, visibility, and representation, and bringing empowerment and change for diverse identities in film and television.

Monique Marvez, a comedian and top-rated San Diego radio host, spoke on self-acceptance both in and outside the industry. “I talk about how to make myself happy, and then I say, ‘If you make yourself happy, that’s the most magnetic thing in the world,’” Marvez said. “If you want someone to pick you — you pick you.”

Actor, improv-comedian and community organizer Keisha Zollar described her experience being “strange and black” on the improv scene. “I accepted my strangeness being a black woman in a group of weirdos,” Zollar said. “It’s okay for white men to be strange, but a black woman has to be ‘normal’ or ‘sassy.’”

Visibility and representation were also talked about, with disability receiving the level of conversation it deserves.

“Hollywood is nowhere near accepting the fact that we’re a part of the diversity community,” shared Maysoon Zayid, a comedian and advocate. “We want to see physical disabilities played by the physically disabled.”

Nina G, who refers to herself as the world’s only female stuttering comedian, explained she doesn’t make herself the joke, but the jerks of the world. “I think the disability community finds that refreshing,” she said.

Indeed, comedy acts as a space for people to express frustration through humor. As with actor and comedian Kate Rigg, who found comedy while “looking for a space to express rage and pain.”

“I think that when you are one of the few speaking for an underrepresented community,” Rigg said, “that often your community is desperate to hear you speak.”

The discussion ended with calls to action and a more DIY approach.

Negin Farsad, who writes, directs and produces in addition to performing as a comedian, started creating her own media when she grew tired of being called “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough.” On the topic of television, she noted that “if we see more people of color in control, you will see more diversity.”

Comedian Angela Scott emphasized the importance of “making your own voice, and speaking your own voice.“ She urged performers not to hurt themselves by playing into the stereotypes.

The questions raised at Laughing Matters are relevant not just for those of underrepresented identities, but for all audiences. Diversity doesn’t simply increase a group’s visibility; it transforms and enriches the medium.

“Women sharing laughter on stage is one step away from women being objects, and one step closer to being subjects,” Rigg said.

— SONTENISH MYERS (NYWIFT intern)

PUBLISHED BY

nywift

nywift New York Women in Film & Television supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media.

View all posts by nywift

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*

Related Posts

NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Kait Plum

Kait Plum is a force to be reckoned with in the world of film editing, with a decade of experience and a knack for finding the emotional core of any project. Her journey to success is marked by notable achievements, from winning awards for her work in documentary filmmaking to making waves in the comedy genre with her latest project, Bad Shabbos.

READ MORE

NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Tiffany Paulsen

The 2024 Tribeca Festival is set to premiere the eagerly anticipated romantic dramedy, Winter Spring Summer or Fall, directed by seasoned rom-com screenwriter Tiffany Paulsen. Winter Spring Summer or Fall follows the lives of Remy, played by Jenna Ortega, and Barnes, portrayed by Percy Hynes White. After a chance encounter, these two young individuals find themselves intertwined in an unexpected romance. As the seasons change from winter to summer, their relationship blossoms. However, with Remy’s plans to attend Harvard in the fall, the couple must confront the complexities of their future and what truly matters to them. Packed with classic romantic comedy elements, it’s a film that promises to resonate with audiences of all ages. Tammy Reese offers us an exclusive video interview with Tiffany Paulsen, who makes her directorial debut with the film.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Ashley Berkman

Welcome to NYWIFT, Ashley Berkman! Ashley Berkman is a multimedia artist in the truest sense of the word. She is a producer, video editor, videographer, photographer, performer, visual/installation artist, educator, amateur puppeteer, prop maker, and kids’ entertainer - and she is constantly exploring new forms of expression. Working in a wide variety of disciplines, she seeks to make connections between them. As a video professional she strives for precision. As an educator, she loves to help students push their work to the next level. When creating for kids, she loves teaching self-love and self-trust through mindful movement, play, and a whole lot of silliness.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Colleen Hughes

Welcome to NYWIFT, Colleen Hughes! As an intimacy director and coordinator, Colleen brings a trauma-informed and human-first approach to scenes of simulated sex, nudity, and hyperexposure. Through her collaboration with trusted colleagues, she is at the vanguard of a movement to bring increased agency and transparency to the entertainment industry. She has collaborated with artists from around the globe, including Maya Hawke on the official music video for “Thérèse,” with over 5 million views on YouTube (also available on Apple Music); Samantha Shay at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Germany; and immersive work with Virgin Atlantic’s cruise line in the Mediterranean, and Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in NYC. Colleen is part of a team of thought leaders in the field of consent and intimacy work. As Director of Core Training at Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (IDC), Colleen led the development of the company’s groundbreaking Consent-Forward Artist training program. She is currently working on a book entitled A Volunteer from the Audience: Consent Work in Interactive Performance that examines the role of agency in immersive performance.

READ MORE
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
css.php