Beautiful And Funny Women Talk About Claims That Women Can’t Be Beautiful And Funny

As former Disney CEO Michael Eisner says he doesn't believe women can be gorgeous and make him laugh, we took it upon ourselves to prove him wrong...

Short of shaking them individually by the shoulders and banging their heads against a poster of Anna Kendrick, we’re not quite sure how to make guys realise that you can be hilarious, gorgeous and have a vagina. But as former Disney CEO Michael Eisner claims that ‘the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman,’ it looks – depressingly – like we’ve got our work cut out for us. 

So, while we’re busy weeping into our keyboards with the depression of it all, we asked some beautiful, funny women about how it feels to be told that they don’t exist.

Loren O’Brien

‘If you are a woman you can be only one of these three: funny, smart or pretty.

Any more than one of those then:
You’re funny and smart – you must be a crazy feminist.
Smart and pretty – you must be a dirty slut.
Funny and pretty – you’re not, that doesn’t exist.

The response I once got after telling someone I’m a comedian:
Them: But you’re, like, really pretty.
Me: Thank you.
Them: So you agree?
Me: What?
Them: You think you’re really pretty?
Me: Oh… I don’t know.

Okay, that might be a scene from Mean Girls, but I’ve actually had someone say something along those lines.

I’ve got lots of things I can rant on about this subject, but I’ll stick with a small story:

Once, while getting dressed for a gig, I was in my room with my producer (who also happens to be a very good friend of mine) who I asked for her opinion on my top. She replied, ‘I mean I like it, but you can’t wear that on stage, you’ll look too good. People won’t find you funny cause you’re too pretty.’ Unfortunately, she was right, the outfit was banging. So I wore a t-shirt and jeans instead, even though I wanted to wear that shirt.

Now, this doesn’t sound like a big deal. And people will say, ‘blah blah blah, looks aren’t important, blah blah blah’ and I agree, they’re not. But feeling good in your own skin is.

I have a lot of insecurities with how I look. Like everyone, some days I look in the mirror and think ’Nailed it.’ And some days I look in the mirror and go ’Nope, gross’ then throw a hissy fit because I think I look fat. Those are my own insecurities and things I am working on to get over.

So on that day of my gig, when I actually felt good in my own skin (something rare) I wasn’t allowed to be, because ‘people wouldn’t find me funny’. It made me so angry.

It made me angry, because I constantly feel that – as a woman – I have to be all of these things at once (funny, smart, pretty), but then I simultaneously feel like I can be none of them at all.

You have to be pleasing to the eye (but not too much, because that’s threatening), hold a conversation (but not an opinion), and be charming (but don’t be funnier than anyone else because then you’ll be attention seeking).

It’s confusing and it hurts. So let’s just recognise we are doing this to each other and praise each other for being awesome.

And to Michael Eisner? Well, there are words I’d like to say to you sir, but my father taught me how to be a lady.

He taught me to be funny, not ignorant.’

Loren is currently performing solo-sketch comedy aLOne, Pleasance Courtyard, August 5-3, 22:45pm. Follow her at @lorenobrienLO

Annie McGrath

‘Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has claimed funny, beautiful women are hard to find… WELL PERHAPS WE’RE AVOIDING YOU, MIKE, AM I RITE?!! HAHAHA. No, but seriously they do exist, Mike. Can I call you Mike? Is this thing on? *Taps the mic/Mike*

Tina Fey, Sharon Horgan and Amy Poehler are among the most successful comedians our generation has seen, producing inspirational films and shows such as Mean Girls, Catastrophe, and Parks & Recreation. Regular performers on the London circuit include Aisling Bea, Mae Martin, Lolly Adefope, Lou Sanders, Ellie White & Natasia Demetriou… Some of the funniest people I know (and yes, I have kissed them all).

Comedy often works best if the performer seems vulnerable or has some kind of vice. Understandably then, beauty can be distracting; it’s harder to be self-deprecating if you look like you have it all… but there are plenty of good-looking, funny male comics who seem to manage fine (and yes, I have kissed them all). Is there not also an argument for beauty and comedy being subjective? I think I can safely say that I’m the first person to have made that point. You’re welcome.’

Annie is bringing two shows to Edinburgh this summer: Twins: Pret A Comedy (Midnight, Pleasance Courtyard), and Annie McGrath and Nico Tatarowicz #Pray4AnnieandNico (8pm, Just the Tonic at The Caves)

Elf Lyons

‘I love my job. And when I do it, I feel like a goddess. At 24 years of age, and having performed comedy since i was a teen, stand-up has taught me everything I need to embrace myself both physically and intellectually. I have never felt compelled to ‘dress up’ or ‘dumb down’ for the sake of other people’s self-esteem. And my job as a glamorous court jester has never prevented me from finding cool guys to go out with – unsurprisingly, nice, solid blokes aren’t actually all that frightened about whether or not their girlfriend can out-pun them.

Yet, according to Michael Eisner, ‘the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman’. From this statement I can only conclude that Michael spends most of his time rocking backwards and forwards alone in the dark. That, or hiding from his wife – after all, his statement suggests to the world that he reckons she is either: “really fit but a bit of a plank” or “hysterically funny, but looks like Shrek”.

There’s no point listing ‘attractive’ funny women to prove Eisner is wrong – we know he is. There are countless beautiful, funny women. We all know one, we are all friends with one, we probably don’t realize that we are one. A confident woman, a woman who values herself and knows her invaluable worth, is attractive. End of. She may be intimidating to men like Eisner – men who can’t handle the concept of a woman who isn’t voiceless – but that isn’t the same as unattractive.

Attractiveness is linked with power and confidence – and that is the one thing we need more of: confidence. The arts still faces huge disparity in the number of female artists there are to male artists. So we really should use Eisner’s statement to fuel ourselves to support our fellow funny sisters with the words “You know what? You are really funny. Perhaps you should give comedy a go”. Perhaps then Eisner will realise how many beautiful, funny women there are.’

Elf Lyons is performing her solo show Being Barbarella at the Edinburgh Festival this year at 7.50pm at the Voodoo Rooms. Follow her on twitter at @elf_lyons

Scarlett Belle
‘The idea that beautiful women are not funny is quite simply the biggest load of codswallop that I have ever heard in my life. I am a burlesque dancer, singer and compare – and living in the cabaret world means that I’m surrounded by wonderful, gorgeous women all the time. And my favourite performers are the ones who are not just able to tease and seduce their audience, but who can also make them burst into laughter.

The most beautiful thing about beautiful, funny women is that, yeah, maybe a lot of people don’t expect it. Sure, some beautiful women rely on their looks to get them places and they have the personality of a soggy plimsole. But lets face it, that’s not gender exclusive: I have met many a gorgeous man who, surprisingly, didn’t manage to keep my interest when his chat was revealed as solely touching the subjects of chicken salads and protein shakes.

The most attractive women out there are the ones who, yes, may be ‘beautiful’, but who are also witty and spontaneous. Women who can walk face first into a glass door whist distracted by the shirtless man on the other side and then can do a triple pirouette, high kick and take a massive bow to raucous applause. The most beautiful women can take the piss out of themselves and don’t give a flying hoo ha about trying to please a man with their humour – because they don’t particularly care about needing to please a man at all. They are strong, independent, intelligent, happy women with quick wit and comic timing. In other words, they are a force not to be reckoned with.

Eisner has clearly been surrounded by the weak, waif princesses portrayed in most of Disney movies he managed for far, far too long. Until the Frozen revolution, the role of the princess was to be beautiful, prim and perfect – and to wait patiently until a charming prince came to your rescue. But in my opinion, Eisner is clearly just another frustrated white, middle class man, who a) isn’t all that attractive himself, and who b) smart funny women wouldn’t waste their time with anyway. After all, I know I’d rather be repeatedly slapped in the face with a rotten fish than have to spend more than 10 mins in his boring and chauvinistic company.’

Scarlett Belle’s Scarlet Letters is at the Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe from the 15th-21st August at the Counting House from 8.15pm.

That Pair

‘We spend quite a bit of our time on stage dressed as various less-than-attractive characters. In fact, dropping the façade of being a “perfect woman” is one of the themes of our new show, Letting it Go. You can look back at women in comedy and think that many comedians deliberately made themselves look less attractive in order to be accepted. Did this make them funnier, or just feel less vulnerable?

Whatever the case, there still seems to be something in the way of men finding funny women on stage attractive. This has never been a problem for the guys, just look at Jack Whitehall, Russell Howard/Brand/Kane. It’s fantastic that the comedy world is accepting that women can be beautiful, intelligent and funny (who knew?), but we’re looking forward to being celebrated by our male audience members for our humour and having something to say.

Either that, or we’re changing our names to Russell.’

Letting it Go is at Just the Tonic Thu 6th – Sat 29th August at 4.35pm. You can follow That Pair on Twitter at @thatpaircomedy

Holly Burn
‘Being funny is about being honest, real and truthful – and whenever anyone is any of these things they are beautiful too. You have a certain power when you are on stage, especially if you’re on stage being funny (if the audience find you funny, that is – if they don’t it has quite the opposite effect). Historically people with power are attractive in some way: presidents, pop stars, headmasters…

I am comedian who is doing her thang, just like any man does up there on stage. And I happen to be the sort of woman who likes a bit of good old dressy up: a Matthew Williamson dress, A Tom Ford Lipstick and a Sophie Webster shoe – that all feeds in to my character and who I am on stage. But that just happens to be an aspect of who I am. If I’m hobbling round with greasy hair, gurning like an old man (which I do often) there is beauty in that – because truth and honesty and being you is both funny and beautiful. And that‘s why Michael Eisner is wrong.’

Holly is performing her show, I Am Kirsty K, at Just the Tonic @ The Mash House Thu 6th – Sun 30th August at 6.20pm. You can follow her on Twitter at @HollyBurnComedy

Alice Fraser

‘Poor Michael Eisner. It must be difficult to live in a world where everyone thinks you’re a shallow idiot. You knew it was a bad idea! Just before you said it, you ummed and ahhed and said, ‘oh no, this is going to get me in trouble’. Then you went ahead and said it anyway. It might be hard to find a beautiful, funny woman, but it is also extremely difficult to find a middle aged white guy who can keep his stupid mouth shut on an unsolicited opinion.

Right. The beautiful and funny thing. Okay, Mr Eisner. Let me break down the equation for you into pieces you might understand. (Sorry, I’m going to get a bit lawyerly, because I was a lawyer before I was a comedian, and being patronising is a skill I developed there.)

1) It’s really hard to find anyone who is very funny, male or female.
2) It’s very hard to find anyone in the world who’s unquestionably beautiful (male or female).
3) The Venn-diagram overlap between people who really, really care about how they look, and the people who are sharp, self aware and brutal enough to be excellent at comedy is a small one.
4) Beauty doesn’t last.
5) If i had to choose, I’d rather be funny than beautiful.

I mean, honestly, I get the point he might be trying to make. People who coast on their looks might have never suffered the insecurities and pain of being a human in the world – meaning they’re unlikely to be super invested in making people like them, because they just sort of… glow, and illuminate the room. But then again, on the other hand, a lot of people who are beautiful as adults were ugly ducklings who had to fight their way up a schoolyard status ladder with wit and personality. Eitherway, it doesn’t come down to being a woman.

Truly breathtaking beauty often lies in an odd mix of perfection and imperfection, which from the wrong angle can seem awkward or ugly. My point is, much like comedy, beauty is subjective.

Michael Eisner, on the other hand, is objectively a dick.’

Alice Fraser is performing Savage at Edinburgh Festival from the 6th – 31st August. 

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