The message couldn’t be clearer, the future of comedy is female. Featuring comedy’s biggest female superstars like Iliza Shelsigner, Fortune Feimster, Margret Cho, Sherri Shepherd, etc., “Hysterical” explores their journeys to the stand-up stage. It answers why they chose comedy to be their career paths, even when all odds of females succeeding in the field are stacked against them. Women dominating in comedy now is not an accident.These hysterical comedians perpetually performing stand-up prove that hard work can pay off no matter where you land on the gender continuum.
It’s pretty clear that sexism was baked into comedy from the origin and even today people have heard the lie that women aren’t funny. But, packed with the most successful comediennes talking about their rise to fame highlights how wrong that perpetuated idea of comedy being for men really is. Though it’s difficult to completely eradicate sexism from the entertainment industry, most of the women talk about how influenced they were by the first trailblazers like Joan Rivers and Phylis Diller. They speak a lot about how they are going to affect the future generation of women in comedy including the weight of that responsibility, giving copious amounts of credit to Kathy Griffen and Hannah Gadsby who are trailblazing as we speak.
Definitions of terms like “hysterical”, typically used to diminish women, are sprinkled throughout this doc in an effort to highlight the dichotomy of injustice that exists between male and female comics. The narrative is very progressive and feminist in the best, non-threatening way, making it sound ridiculous that we even have to talk about how great and funny women are. More than anything, the #MeToo movement was praised because it has allowed women to support each other and to connect on the deepest level allowing us to truly be honest with each other about our experiences.
If you enjoy stand-up and documentaries this movie will be a joy for you to watch, yes, even for you, boys. It’s focused on the seriousness of the growth of feminism in the industry, but it’s absolutely hilarious and will make you laugh out loud throughout the entire course of the film. “Hysterical” premieres on Hulu, April 2.