Time now for a Thanksgiving complaint. Cuz no matter how hard we try everything can’t be a blessing to be thankful for:
by Katla McGlynn
The 2014 New York Comedy Festival had a lot of incredible shows featuring women. A panel discussion called “Women Aren’t Funny” brought together hilarious stand-ups, the (female) executive producer of “Louie” and “Orange Is the New Black” star Lea Delaria — the first openly gay woman to break into late night on the original “Arsenio Hall Show” — to speak frankly about the state of women in comedy.
In addition to the panel, this year’s NYCF celebrated women with two more sold-out discussions led by the “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Broad City” creators, an all-femaleTime Out New York cover story and showcase, an incredibly brave stand-up set by the inimitable Tig Notaro and a Carnegie Hall performance by Amy Schumer, among others.
Impressive, considering that just five years ago, the 2009 New York Comedy Festivalhad no female headliners at all.
But one of this year’s panels provided a stark reminder that not that much has changed since 2009, when former “Late Show” writer Nell Scovell penned her Vanity Fair essayto call out David Letterman’s lack of female hires and hostile work environment.
That panel happened to be An Evening with the “Late Show with David Letterman” Writers, in which the show’s 13 male writers (Letterman not included) and its one female writer, Jill Goodwin, answered questions from moderator Keith Olbermann about their process.
Although there are almost twice as many men on the current “Late Show” staff than there have been female writers in Letterman’s entire 30-plus year tenure — if you count both “Late Night” and “Late Show,” there have been only eight female writers: Merrill Markoe, Scovell, Jill Davis, Maria Pope, Beth Sherman, Meredith Scardino, Jena Friedman and Goodwin — Olbermann didn’t ask any questions about the gender divide. It wasn’t until over an hour into the panel that an audience member asked about diversity, a question which head writer Matt Roberts answered: