14 Female Stand-Up Comedians To See Right Now
For those who are looking to expand their knowledge of female stand-up comedians beyond, say, Amy Schumer, look no further, because we've got a list for you. While Schumer and other female stand-ups like Tig Notaro, Chelsea Handler, and Whitney Cummings are holding it down for fearless funny women everywhere, there are other hilarious women who don't have the same name recognition making people laugh in smaller clubs all over the United States.
It's certainly not easy being a woman in comedy. It may even be worse for female stand-ups since, as Bitch Magazine said in 2013, comedy is a sausage-fest where it can be hard for women to win over a male crowd and grab those headlining slots that land your name on the marquee. That being said, even high-profile female comedians, have trouble making money, as the Forbes Highest Paid Comedians list has shown year in and year out. Last year, we were in the Amy Schumerssance, but not even she land a spot on the highest-paid list. What this all really means is that the best way for a female to make a name for herself in comedy is to travel around telling her jokes and hope that all the hard work pays off. That some lovely person will go see them, and then tell their friends to go see them, and so and so forth, until someone's calling them the "new fill in your favorite comic here."
In my opinion these 14 funny women certainly fit the bill, so go out there and see them for yourself, like, right now.
1. Sasheer Zamata
Most know Sasheer Zamata from Saturday Night Live, but to really get to know her style, you need to see her stand up. Here is where the Upright Citizens Brigade alumnus gets to be the star, joking about offensive radio ads and her love life. Her bit on dating white guys gets at why wearing makeup to bed can lead to some very good things. Zamata isn't afraid to speak her mind and serves as the ACLU's Celebrity Ambassador for Women's Rights. As part of the gig, she made an hilarious video that mocks white guy privilege that is definitely worth watching.
2. Negin Farsad
The Iranian-American-Muslim comedian Negin Farsad likes to joke about her family, but often in a way that will make them feel extremely uncomfortable. In a bit about getting checked for STDs, Farsad — whose first book, How To Make White People Laugh, is out May 24 — happily jokes, "The good news is my vagina is closed and disease-free until marriage or until someone takes me out to dinner at a restaurant with a Zagat rating of 8 out of 30." But, sex jokes aside, Farsad, who is a TED fellow with a master's degree in African American studies, considers herself a social justice comedian, which means she's interested in using comedy as a force for good. Check out her documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, which shows what happens when a group of Muslim-American comedians tour America putting on free shows. It's hilariously enlightening.
3. Nikki Black
At the age of 23, Nikki Black was diagnosed with breast cancer and decided to laugh about it. A week after being diagnosed, Black took the stage with a glass of wine in hand to joke about not being able to run a marathon or breastfeed a child. "You feel better about yourselves?" she asked, before joking about God's penchant for giving people cancer. That was three years ago; now Black is in remission and still making jokes about herself. Except now they're about her crippling anxiety and having fallen in love with a crack addict.
4. Jenny Zigrino
Go to Jenny Zigrino's website, and she'll let you know she's quadruple threat: "Comedian. Writer. Actress. Bad Ass." And, after seeing her standup, it's hard to deny her any of those things. Zigrino made her TV debut on Conan last year, showing off her Midwest charm with jokes about how good it is to be in your 20s, her little sister's paternity, and the deal she's struck with her dog. But, as sweet as she may seem, her jokes always end unexpectedly with a bit of raunch, self-deprecation and, sometimes, a Hitler mention. Definitely leaves you satisfied, but wanting more.
5. Aparna Nancherla
Aparna Nancherla has a dry sense of humor. So dry, in fact, that sometimes, you don't really know if she's joking. Nancherla, who was the first Indian-American woman to perform stand-up on late-night television, is someone who finds humor in everyday life. From seeing a black man with a mohawk and a white man with a mohawk crossing paths to personal pizzas to three-time sneezers, she finds a way to make it funny. That's why you'll definitely want to follow her on Twitter (@aparnapkin), where, in 140 characters or less, she'll get you to LOL about Gotye and her penchant for coloring.
6. Shelby Fero
Warning: Watching Shelby Fero do comedy may make you feel bad about yourself. Not only because you're not as funny as her, but because she's only 22 years old. Her style of comedy is conversational, with her telling stories about growing up without religion or lighting her hair on fire at a gig as if she's just one of your friends re-telling a funny story from her day. No surprise that with her brand of storytelling she's also a writer for Hello Giggles and shows like Robot Chicken.
7. Vijai Nathan
Vijai Nathan's comedy is all about her experience growing up as an Indian girl in America. She jokes about her parents and her dating life, and often how the two are connected. As she jokes, her parents were setting her up for an arranged marriage, keeping her as far away from boys as possible. It's definitely made her dating life extremely hard, but her job as a comedian very easy. She has so much material on this topic that she's written two solo shows: Woman on Top: Tips from Mom, Dad & COSMO and Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do.
8. Bridget Everett
You may recognize Bridget Everett from Amy Schumer's Instagram or Schumer's show Inside Amy Schumer. The alt-cabaret comedian, who's a classically trained singer, is known for her raunchy musical numbers, which often have her singing about her vagina and then rubbing herself all up on unsuspecting audience members. You've been warned.
9. Cameron Esposito
If you want to hear the greatest period joke of all time, look no further than Cameron Esposito. Her joke lets any man who thinks periods are disgusting know that they don't know the half of it. "My body is bleeding out of my body," she screams. Despite that, her comedy comes from a happy place, with her talking about her marriage to fellow stand-up Rhea Butcher. Some of her best jokes are about wedding planning for two people who aren't that into weddings: “We’re gonna Slip-n-Slide down the aisle to the sounds of the Furious 7 soundtrack!” Though, honestly I'd love to go to a wedding like that.
10. Iliza Shlesinger
With two Netflix stand-up specials under her belt, Iliza Shlesinger could soon become as synonymous with Netflix as chilling. In her latest special, Freezing Hot, the 2008 winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing (she was the youngest winner and the first woman) talks about how Pinterest is "porn for white women," and those girls who show off their forearms because they know it looks hot. Right now, Shlesinger is making couples extremely anxious as the host of the game show Separation Anxiety.
11. Nicole Byer
Nicole Byer is not afraid to call out racism in Hollywood, often putting it on blast during her sets. She's called out the racist McDonald's commercials that she's had the pleasure of doing the voice-overs for, where her first question is "How black do you want this?" The Girl Code star also made fun of anyone who's asked her to "be blacker" in an audition with Sasheer Zamata. And, if you want to see more of Byer, she seems to be taking over MTV, not only with her Girl Code gig, but with a sitcom, currently known as "The Untitled Nicole Byer Project" about a city girl whose forced to move back to the suburbs. Can't wait to see what hot topic she tackles next.
12. Emily Heller
Emily Heller is a feminist comedian who jokes about the problem with the movement. Basically, she says it isn't seen as fun, so it's hard to recruit people to join — something misogyny doesn't really have to worry about. Don't believe her? Just hear her joke about the differences between misogynistic T-shirts and feminist ones, which will have you laughing and also agreeing. Heller, who hosts the very funny podcast Baby Geniuses, also has fun poking fun at herself, in a very pro-feminist way, of course. Sure, feminism isn't seen as fun, but Heller sure makes it funny.
13. Sabrina Jalees
Sabrina Jalees likes to make fun of herself. She talks about how she should have known sooner that she was a lesbian and how much better sleepovers would have been. She jokes about coming out to her dad, who kept hoping she'd get married, which she eventually did. She even jokes about one day having a kid that looks like her and her wife — the only way being that she uses her brother's sperm. With each of these jokes, the comedian, who is also a writer currently for the NBC sitcom Crowded, is at her most honest. In a Ted Talk in Toronto, Jalees explained how being honest with herself made her embrace who she was. Those are some pretty powerful jokes.
14. Morgan Murphy
Morgan Murphy isn't gay. It's something she likes to put out there at the top of her set, just so people know. No, her deep voice and sadness, she jokes, just read the same way. And it's those same reasons why that joke is even funnier. Murphy's delivery on everything is low-key, almost hinging on lethargic, but her punchlines always hit. Even one where she talks about drugging an annoying girl just to get her to stop talking. Yeah, she manages to make that funny.
Though all of these women are completely different in their style, tone, and delivery, but they all have one thing in common: they're extremely funny and worth your attention.