It’s easy to believe that right now is a great time for women in comedy. Four women just ruined the childhoods of thousands of men by rebooting Ghostbusters. Amy Schumer has her own show. The funniest members of Saturday Night Live are, yet again, women. Abbi Johnson and Ilana Glazer are writing, producing, directing, and starring in their own show. Ali Wong’s “Baby Cobra” sketch (streaming on Netflix right now) made me laugh so hard I cried.
But Tina Fey, seasoned comedian extraordinaire, isn’t buying the narrative that right now is a “golden age of female comedians.” In a recent cover article for Bust Magazine, Fey remains skeptical of all the good news:
When Amy and I were doing the Sisters junket, everyone was like, ‘Isn’t this an amazing time for women in comedy?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know, is it?’ Do I make what Will Ferrell makes? No,” she explained.
“I think the next phase will be whether me and Amy will be allowed to age in this business,” she continued. “I’ve met a lot of older male comedy writers who still work, but almost no female comedy writers who aren’t marginalized in some way.
She’s right. Though there are plenty of women in comedy standing in the spotlight now, almost all of them are younger than Fey’s 46 years. Unlike male comedians like Will Ferrell, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., and Adam Sandler, there are hardly any female comedians with real Hollywood presence (much less heaps of money) who are older. Betty White might be the exception to the rule, but she has reemerged into the public eye after a long period without working.
There are a ton of brilliant, funny women working in comedy right now. But we probably shouldn’t call it the “golden age of female comedians” until we’ve found a way for women at any age to work in comedy.