We continue to explore the myth that women are congenitally unfunny.
First we heard from Tina Fey in her new book, “Bossypants,” that she doesn’t give a f--- what men think is funny or not.
Today we had the chance to put the question to Dan Harmon, creator and executive producer of “Community.”
“My new thing is, ‘Are women funnier than men?’” he said, surprising me completely.
It is a well-known reality that the writer’s rooms on comedy and late-night talk shows are, for the most part, unilaterally male (and white). Fey writes about finding cups of piss in the "Saturday Night Live" writer’s room, a function of supreme male laziness and a lack of female presence.
Read also: Tina Fey Finds Pee in the Writers Room
The same was true for Harmon. But then-NBC Entertainment president Angela Bromstad challenged him to hire women for half of the writing staff of “Community.”
And Harmon did (there are now four men and four women, though the two executive producers are guys).
“It’s harder; there are less women looking for work. It’s easier to have an all-white male writing staff,” he said on Tuesday. The reason, he said, is the same for why Hollywood writers room are predominantly white.
“There’s no active discrimination,” he said. “But historically, this is a proactively insular (industry). When I get a pile of scripts, I have to dig extra deep to find funny women. Because there’s a lot more men. I had to find geniuses who happened to be women -- which is harder. You have to read a lot of crap.”
The funny thing is, he noted, many of the networks are run by women (though Bromstad was ousted in January), so the programming decisions are made by them.
And television, since it’s in the home, is a typically female-oriented medium.
Harmon created Britta Perry, one of Jeff Winger’s (Joel McHale) study group mates, played by Gillian Jacobs. The character is often written by one of the women writers.
“Women are better at giving deeper laughs,” said Harmon. “Britta says things that I’d never say if left to my own devices.”