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Women Are Funny: Female Comedians That You Should Watch

Female comedians are shining a spotlight on the issues that women face, both in the industry and in real life.
Female comedians are shining a spotlight on the issues that women face, both in the industry and in real life. By Courtesy of Isabelle A. Lu
By Angelina X. Ng, Crimson Staff Writer

Stand-up comedy is often seen as a boys’ club, and no wonder: Women are underrepresented in all aspects of stand-up comedy, from panel shows and Netflix stand-up specials to comedy rooms. Even so, female comedians are shining a spotlight on the issues that women face, both in the industry and in real life. This article spotlights six female comedians you should check out — and hopefully serves as a springboard to discover many, many more!

1. Taylor Tomlinson

Taylor Tomlinson is the it-girl of the stand-up scene. She currently hosts “After Midnight,” a late-night game show, making her one of the few female hosts on late-night television in recent history. Some may characterize Tomlinson’s rise as sudden — she just released her first Netflix special, “Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis” in 2020 — but that work alone does not do justice to Tomlinson’s work ethic: She has been performing since she was 16, 11 years before “Quarter-Life Crisis,” and performed the most shows out of any comic in 2023. Tomlinson is unashamed and fearless as she tackles personal topics like mental health and her sexual life — one of her most viral bits revolves around her earnest discussion about the merits of audio porn.

2. Ali Wong

Ali Wong is probably best known for her Emmy Award-winning performance on “Beef” and lead role in “Always Be My Maybe,” but it’s undeniable that her funny chops were honed on the stand-up comedy circuit. Wong burst onto the scene with her first stand-up special, “Ali Wong: Baby Cobra,” and became instantly iconic for her raunchy style as she discussed motherhood and trapping men with candor and relish. “I’ve been reading that book by Sheryl Sandberg, she’s the C.O.O of Facebook,” Wong rants, wearing a black and white striped dress with her baby bump prominently on display. “Her book is called Lean In. Well, I don’t want to lean in, okay? I want to lie down. I want to lie the fuck down!” Wong is not only a staunch advocate for AAPI representation in stand-up comedy, but also consciously raises awareness of the struggles that working mothers in comedy face today.

3. Tig Notaro

Known for her deadpan delivery, Tig Notaro’s humor is wry and dry. Performing at Largo in Los Angeles in 2012, Notaro walked on stage, microphone in hand. “Good evening, hello,” she greets the audience. “I have cancer. How are you?” The live album of this performance went on to be nominated for an Emmy — and perhaps it best encapsulates Notaro’s particular brand of dark humor as she navigates topics such as her breast cancer diagnosis with humor and maturity. This is exactly what makes Notaro such a compelling comedian; she’s able to make light of the unbroachable, and her delivery is absolutely top-notch. Her most recent stand-up special, “Tig Notaro: Hello Again,” only serves to emphasize this fact.

4. Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho is unique. In her one-woman show, “I’m the One that I Want,” Cho blends the mediums of drama and stand-up, utilizing her signature bawdy performance style as she speaks candidly about racism and homophobia that she faced in the industry. For Cho, stand-up and drama have never been separate: She addresses discrimination in “Margaret Cho: Notorious C.H.O.,” and has long been a champion of Asian-American representation both in stand-up and in the wider cultural space, creating comedy “for us instead of against us.” And, in fact, her performance style only enhances her message: As one of the first Asian women in the comedy circuit in the 1970s, Cho was defiant and unapologetic on stage even as she shared titillating details about her life, providing inspiration and a model for others who watched on.

5. Joanne McNally

Joanne McNally’s most recent tour, “The Prosecco Express,” was exactly what was promised: A fun night of revelry for her audience as McNally stood on stage, holding court with relish. McNally became popular not just for her stand-up, but for her podcast “My Therapist Ghosted Me,” which she co-hosts with fellow Irishwoman Vogue Williams. What makes her such a gem is her relatability — McNally is the people’s comedian as she shares intimate jokes about her personal life. This reputation is also thanks to her willingness to bare herself to her audience, as she shares with them her struggles with bulimia. McNally is a regular guest on the comedy panel show circuit, appearing in “The Blame Game,” “Elephant in the Room,” and “The Big Fat Quiz of Everything.” McNally currently can be seen on Series 17 of “Taskmaster,” where her crass humor is, as expected, on full and delightful display.

6. Tiffany Haddish

Haddish’s career hasn’t been total smooth sailing: She apologized on social media for bombing a 2019 New Year’s Eve set in Miami. In a way, her most recent stand-up special, “Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah” was her making amends for the infamous set, which she addresses with candor and maturity — and she more than succeeds, creating a show that not only won the Grammy Award for the Best Comedy Album in 2021, but won her a whole new legion of fans. Haddish calls stand-up a “safe space” for her to share her experiences, and her unique performing style, as she lures in the audience with relatable anecdotes before shocking them with a filthy detail, makes her one to watch.

—Staff writer Angelina X. Ng can be reached at

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