The Women vs. Julie Klausner

This is an essay about feminism and women who work in comedy.

“I’ve been working in a conference room with four, five, six — I don’t know. It could be literally any number of men. A couple women, they come in and out. But it’s me and the guys! They reference when they fart. They’ll say like, “I’m sorry.” What. Is. Happening. To society?! Men in the workplace. I’ve historically been against men in the workplace. I don’t think they’re professional. I don’t respect their process! I’m not trying to be anti-male. I AM trying to smash the patriarchy. In dribs and drabs. I do a little bit every day. Like today for example, I didn’t listen to someone.”Julie Klausner (December 6, 2013)

Skinny-Shaming

The hyphen “-shaming” is added to an adjective to describe bullying of the adjective. “Fat-shaming” is making a comment about someone being fat, without calling them fat. An example of “fat-shaming” is “you don’t need those french fries.”

March 12, 2016. Julie Klausner, 37, an established comedian, began tweeting about Zendaya, 19, an actress with over six million Twitter followers, during the Kids Choice Awards. There is no evidence Julie was hate-watching the award show but she wrote a “skinny-shaming” joke.


The critique of the joke is: When will we learn our lesson about laughing at unconventional female bodies, and making jokes about serious mental illnesses like anorexia? – Zendaya, Eating Disorders, And The Danger Of Joking About Mental Illness

It was a bad joke and it missed the mark. What comes next, sadly, was completely unrelated to the joke.

Julie Klausner and sexist-sliming

At least if you cyberbully a 37-year-old, they won’t kill themselves, right?

If I sound low energy it’s because I’m very depressed.” – Julie Klausner (August 30, 2013)

A cruel backlash followed the poorly executed joke, accusing Julie Klausner, 37, of being jealous of Zendaya, 19. First Zendaya fans, then media outlets, began weighing in on the joke  Klausner, personally. Julie was old, an adult, jealous, bitter, an ostrich, the list continues.  Men, women, DJs “looking out for their daughters,” and countless unspecified Tweeters chimed in relentlessly. Below are a few of thousands. Twitter is one of Julie’s many social media accounts.

Unfortunately, as of April 5, Julie is still harassed on social media in the name of “feminism.” Julie’s joke was ill advised but malicious it seems not. We’re all still learning and progressing as a society but the misplaced anger will hopefully not endure much longer at the expense of Julie.

Why would Julie Klausner, 37, who, has her own TV show, be jealous of Zendaya, 19? No seriously, why?

Youth and looks? Duh. 37? In Hollywood? It’s a kneejerk reaction that all Julie cares about is her appearance, obviously her greatest asset. The older she is, the less desirable she is, right? This is called internal misogyny. Internalized sexism is defined as the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about women by a sexist society are true.

Women in Comedy

Women get daytime talk shows. Men, as long as they are white, or Arsenio which I will talk about in a second, rule the night. Women need to take back the night in a different way starting with laughter.” – Julie Klausner (September 13, 2013)

For too long, women were boxed out of comedy or perceived as not funny—by men. This view was not narrowly held, nor has it been vanquished. The recently deceased Atheist scholar Christopher Hitchens literally penned a piece entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny” in Vanity Fair in 2007. I graduated high school in 2007.

Women were denied a voice because of such misconceptions and even now that we have been allowed to join the arena, we are still often reduced to sexual innuendo instead of nuanced societal commentary. Women in comedy who forged through these stereotypes should be regarded as heroes, and writers, not just punching bags. Julie Klausner gets out of bed everyday and does her job.

This is a feminist song.

 

Improv for Laywers #UCB #HWYW (this was a CLE)

A photo posted by Courtney (@courtofappeals) on

Catching up on her podcast, the facetious Julie has made me feel like Joseph Smith, digging up the plates.  We must tell the others! A new religion!

Have you ever left a CLE with a smile from ear-to-ear? I took a CLE at Upright Citizens Brigade, “Improv For Lawyers.” UCB is the comedy school where Julie Klausner trained, and met one of its founding fathers, Amy Poehler. I had no idea UCB existed. It was fun. She wrote for Billy Eichner’s show, “Billy On The Street.” That show is fun. I started thinking Klausner was a bad look. Why was I so entertained by her?

The real question, is why are more people not entertained by Julie Klausner? 

I have been drinking so much Julie Klausner Kool-Aid. I’m convinced I didn’t know about her comedy sooner, because she is a woman. I feared the worst–she wasn’t funny–and I had serious issues for thinking she was. #Gaslighting. Gaslighting “describes actions that 1) make another person believe he or she is crazy, and 2) discredit the person by making others think they are crazy.”

This is an example of Gaslighting:

Luckily, I looked at some of her 2010 book reviews (E.g., “shut up, this is dumb, you’re dumb, you’re privileged, you’re a slut, nobody would ever date you, this is not funny at all), and got a sense of how pervasive the vitriol was, especially when viewed as it was directed toward a woman who was challenging societal norms and shining a light on internalized misogyny.

“The harshest judgment you can have on another when you are trying to say, “I really hate that person. I’m the good guy in this situation,” is, “He’s a very unhappy person,” or, “She’s miserable.” That’s so mean. It’s mean in a traditional sense. There’s nothing new about taking pleasure in the misery of an enemy but to gloat on your own conclusion that somebody else’s unhappiness is the result of some sort of karmic backlash is sort of medieval. It certainly is not very sensitive to mental health. I am very aware of that.” – Julie Klausner (August 22, 2014)

Did you know you could review a book review on Amazon?

Like a TV show recap, Amazon book reviews have comments. This stifles Julie’s speech and prevents educated pre-purchasing decisions.

What people said to Julie Klausner in 2011, 2012.

These are actual, real-life excerpts of 4 (out of 20) comments on a book review from a rude reader, who missed Julie’s message.

  • “And this is why I end up reading more reviews of books than actual books. That was awesome.”
  • “Absolutely excellent review. Enjoyed it probably more than I would have the book. Thanks for taking the time to post.”
  • “Excellent – and I mean EXCELLENT – review. As pupmup says, I felt like I was reading a book. Witty, straightforward, and informative. A book review that really cuts to the core. Great work.”

Real people are behind Twitter accounts.

Julie Klausner is a real person. She has a mother. She has feelings. She is a feminist.

“There are so many of us it’s confusing. We’re not a minority. Sexism is almost closer to homophobia because there’s an invisibility element to it. There are so many of us it is difficult for people to conceive that we are a minority of some kind. We are not technically.” – Julie Klausner (August 2, 2013) 

Julie Klausner’s podcast, How Was Your Week, is an audio-only talk show, including 2 guest inter—conversations, prefaced by a monologue. She rapidly weaves between serious and Pop Culture commentary. She’s brilliant, mixing serious topics, such as child sex abuse, into conversations about Broadway and Bravo.  It’s so clever and well-timed. The ability to discuss serious and life-altering topics in a smart way through dark comedy is a credit to Julie as a comedian but also as a feminist fighting to shed light on these important topics. Remember, Julie cast a transgender actress in Season 2 (premeires July 12 on Hulu).  Nobody wants to hire a transgender actress.

To discredit Julie Klausner as unaware of the perils of eating disorders and mental illness is irresponsible. Julie often discusses psychology, including a woman’s needs, feelings, expectations. Julie speaks of feeling down, refers to “depression” and “therapy.” She talks about all the things we love to talk about while sneaking in the things we don’t. Her memoir, I Don’t Care About Your Band, spoke of dating disasters, of men with personalities very similar to those who abuse children. We cannot stress enough that manipulative, cruel people can be very charming.

“The weather is really pretty here. Dotty Sandusky thinks that her husband’s “alleged” victims smelled money. Dottie Sandusky went on the Today Show this week and told the world that her husband Jerry is innocent. Dottie Sandusky, who goes by the name Dottie, told America this week that she was in no way a dumb dumb. She said on the Today Show, to a disturbingly bearded Matt Lauer, “those kids smelled money,” which is insane. It’s not like Jerry Sandusky is Michael Jackson. He touched people for different reasons. She also said that his generation showered with boys, which is a great pull quote.” – Julie Klausner (March 14, 2014)

Her comedy has challenged societal pressures, and yes, also, inevitably crossed some lines. She made a dumb joke that was insensitive and cast a shadow on someone unnecessarily, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Klausner has brought many issues about which I, and many women are passionate to the forefront of her comedy, issues that have been widely ignored. We should appreciate her achievement as a woman, forgive her for failures, and hope that we as a society are learning what it means to be a woman without a predefined place.


There is not one perfect way to be a feminist. Zendaya might be right about certain joke topics, but her fans and followers are not responding in a constructive way. Zendaya did not seize the opportunity to teach here. Instead, she too, retweets jokes about “adult” Julie.

The biggest misappropriation of feminism, is when two women are pitted against another in its name. I understand it can feel personal when someone you look up to is criticized. It’s why I wrote this. I hope it inspires you to check out Difficult People. Of course, I am not saying if you don’t find Julie funny, you hate women. But if you already think–before you even hear more than one of her jokes, or see her show– that you won’t find Julie funny, or that she has nothing to offer but “bitter” commentary on younger women… why is that?

We really need a laugh, we need comedy, so we need women in comedy.

 “There was this family. They were the Friedmans. Everybody wanted to go and meet them.” – Difficult People






CSOLIDAY