“As Lindy West has put it, there’s a difference between ‘a joke about women getting raped’ and ‘a joke about the way that rape culture — which includes rape jokes, makes women feel,'” said Jessica Gavre, the development director of YWCA Pierce County.
YWCA Pierce County is a social justice organization that is committed to fighting racism, empowering women, and working towards a just and free world. October is domestic violence awareness month, so the organization put on a feminist standup comedy night on Oct. 11 called Stand Up for YWCA at The Swiss Restaurant & Pub.
“Feminist comedians have used comedy to call out sexist double-standards and critique patriarchal practices for years. By both challenging societal norms and embracing feminism, comedians are making us listen by making us laugh,” Gavre said.
Comedy is an amazing way for people to come together and work through issues that sometimes are not the easiest to talk about, like racism and sexual assault. When you’re laughing about a subject, it lets you process it differently than when you have to confront it head-on.
“Stand Up for YWCA is part of our Domestic Violence Action Month activities, which aim to include the Tacoma community in conversations about domestic violence and healthy love,” Gavre said. “This is the second year of our comedy event and we think it’s been a great way to bring people together to laugh while also having serious conversations about sexual assault, women’s rights, and intersectionality.”
The night was filled with laughs and smiles, but the subjects weren’t always for the faint of heart. The Comedians joked about sexual assault, the Kavanaugh hearing, men, racism, and their sex lives. The jokes definitely got dirty and edgy at times. The comedians liked picking out men in the audience and poking fun at them once in a while.
One comedian, Alyssa Yeoman, joked, “I mean if you like men you automatically have bad taste.” She shook her fist at the heavens in remorse and the crowd laughed in solidarity.
Not all of the jokes were necessarily about social justice issues. It was just the pure fact of a night centered around feminist comedy that gave a sense of community and support to the audience.
Yeoman talked about past sexual partners, “I do have an ex that is a mime now. Everybody say a prayer for me on that one. I was like, ‘Wow you became a less versatile clown.’ Like all that time we were together you wouldn’t (shut up) and now here we are.”
The world of comedy is one that is historically dominated by men. Especially with the recent #metoo campaign hitting Hollywood, and more specifically calling out comedians like Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari — the world of the comedy can feel unwelcoming. Stand Up for YWCA provided a space for women and femme comedians to tell jokes and to be heard telling them.