Little known fact about me, I love comedy. Stand-up comedy, comedy podcasts, memoirs written by comedians, drag shows with comedy queens, shows written by and starring comedians, sign me the eff up. In the last few years I have become a huge fan. So I knew, when I visited L.A. I wanted to go to the Hollywood Improv and see a stand-up show hosted by Marcella Arguello, called Women Crush Wednesdays. I was souped to see some hilarious female comics.
My cousin Jill lives out in L.A. and told me she was off work Wednesday and would take me wherever I wanted to go. I immediately screen-shotted the WCW flyer on Marcella’s instagram and it was on.
We got there early so I got a drink at the bar. An announcement was made that they were ready to seat the Marcella Arguello show a little early and to line up. The bartender said, take your drink, the entrance is to the back of the bar, right around the corner. They took our phones and locked it in a little phone jail pouch and we were shuffled to our seats in a packed house in a huge room. I didn’t mind relinquishing my phone, because as I have learned listening to hundreds of hours of Nicole Byer’s voice on her podcast, “Why Won’t You Date Me,” comedians work out new material at shows like this so it really sucks when people sneak videos and post it online.
So Here’s What Happened…
Right away, and I said this to Cousin Jill, that the venue was not what I expected. I thought it would be an intimate little room. However, I was happy that it was in a much bigger room and was impressed that so many men came to see feminist comics. We were told we each had to purchase two items, which confused me because the flyer said, “Never a minimum.” But whatever, we needed dinner anyway. The food was okay.
When they introduced the host, and it wasn’t Marcella Arguello, I thought, “Well maybe she closes the show.” The first comic was a female comic who did about five minutes, and was very funny. Then she introduced the next comic, named Anthony, something or other. That might not even be his name, to be honest.
I was pretty sure Marcella had been clear that only female comics perform on WOMAN Crush Wednesdays. The flyer literally says, “No men ever, so stop asking.” I quickly rationalized and said maybe she is doing a favor for a good friend, or maybe he’s gay and she allowed him to perform during pride month. What the fuck do I know?
No Something is Definitely Wrong
First, this comic came on stage and made jokes about audience members appearances, he went on to let us know that he is a very successful up and coming comedian. Sure, cool? Then he made some fat jokes about an actually successful female comic. Now I am annoyed. Not what I signed up for, and was even more annoyed at the audience laughing at these not very clever cheap shots.
The real eye rolls came when he went onto say, “You can’t joke about anything anymore.” OMFG, here we go. Translation, white male comedians can’t get on stage and be misogynistic, racist, transphobic, fatphobic, hacks with successful careers anymore. (Apparently, you totally can, but back to that later.)
Like I said, I consume a lot of comedy content. None of it grabs for low hanging fruit by making jokes at the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s fucking fantastic, I cry laughing, and sometimes, like Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, “Nanette,” it is so smart and so real, I cry real meaningful tears.
No Seriously, May I be Excused?
Well, Anthony something or other, continued on with his set. He did a several minutes on the #MeToo movement. First defending Kevin Spacey and saying how he did nothing wrong. Then claiming, that if you are good looking, sexual abuse allegations just don’t have the same career ending effect. Here he cites the demise of Louis C.K. and nothing really happening to James Franco. Every time the crowd cackled my stomach churned a little more. I felt a little stupid that it took me so long to wonder if I was in the right place.
He closed his set with a bit that seemed to last hours about transgender athletes. His “observation” here was that only male athletes transition so they can outcompete women. Multiple times he commented on how the liberals weren’t laughing. Get me the fuck out there.
Sweet Relief- There’s Marcella and Women who Crush!
I finally flagged down a server and asked if this was Marcella’s Women Crush Wednesday. He very kindly and quickly got us the fuck out of there. We were ushered to a much smaller, but equally packed room. We were lucky enough to get two seats at the bar.
There was Marcella Arguello, on stage doing a spot on impersonation of Beyoncé. Man, I was starstruck. Marcella is something special, tall and beautiful, smart and talented. Also, the curator of a show where I felt I was home. [Bonus: I even tried to pay for a club soda and the bartender winked and waved me off and slid it over.] While, we unfortunately missed a big portion of the show we got to see a comic who I believe identifies as nonbinary, an Indian woman, a pregnant lesbian, and Latina comic, who had a much funnier take on #MeToo to turn the tables on men.
Not one of these comics started any of their sets with, “Oh man, you can’t joke about anything anymore.” They didn’t have to. They relied on their actual creativity and talent and their own experiences navigating this shitty world. The world in which white male comics pack houses, with expensive drink minimums taking cheap shots and talking about things they can’t joke about anymore, (but do anyway?) The world where actually skilled and talented women of all different races, sizes, and life experience actually are doing great work in a smaller room off to the side. If that is not a metaphor on the state of nation, I don’t know what it is. Hard to be a straight, cis, white man these days.
However, infuriating that I had to listen to a man say his Corvette identifies as a Prius so he can race in Prius races, (? – unclear of his message) I did get to meet Marcella after the show, and wow, she is out of this world. She was so friendly and welcoming. If you find yourself in Los Angeles. Check out Women Crush Wednesdays at the Hollywood Improv. Just make sure you’re in the right damn room.
Alé Cardinalle | Joykill Feminist