Monday, July 16, 2012

The Boom Jennies feminine approach to humor

          The Boom Jennies are an all women comedy trio known for their energetic and surprising sketch comedy and are the perfect example of a feminine approach to humor. The sketches focus on feminine topics such as relationships, emotions, body image, and politics as it relates to feminist issues. However, the skits still manage to be rooted in everyday events, like the girls getting together to gossip about their boyfriends. Specifically in the show, two girls showed their true feelings about their friend’s boyfriend and his creepy weird hands. For example, the way he used his hands while driving or picking things up really bugged the girls out. The girls hated his little bird claw hands and the strange movements his fingers made.
Another skit that is rooted in every woman’s life is the endless quest for true love. To represent this particular scene two girls were helping their friend make a profile about herself for a dating website, like While editing her profile, the girls told her to lie about everything. For example, the girls told her to list things she had never done before like snowboarding under favorite activities. The girls also encouraged her to fudge the truth about her past relationship and change the time she cried after the breakup from 3 days to 3 hours. They also told her to photo-shop her head onto a models body because everyone does that. The decision to create a dating profile is a current dilemma many women are facing today. Also, many women can relate to the pressure of presenting their best self online, and the misrepresentation that may come along too.
During the performance I noticed the continual use of the feminine body as a foundation in the narrative. For example, in the skit where a girl was posing nude for an art class and she could not find a comfortable position. This skit represents the discomfort women have with their own bodies, especially naked bodies. Furthermore, it raises the issues of female beauty and the high standards women are pushed to achieve. However, since the Boom Jennies obtained the subject position- they had the power and authority to discuss these feminine topics. The Boom Jennies feminine approach to humor is inner directed, self-aware, and sexually knowing. Watching a skit and being able to relate to the material connects the audience with the performance and makes the spectators think, ponder, and question feminine identity issues.
The Boom Jennies are an example of a feminine approach to humor in the male dominated comedic industry. One reason for the male domination in comedy shows is because comedy is a male form of discourse, it’s aggressive and confrontational. Feminist theorist, Deborah Tannen, found that male speakers are more likely to engage in conflict talk because women are more likely to avoid conflict. According to societal standards women are meant to avoid confrontation and are taught at a young age to be submissive in order to avoid confrontation. Women are taught to display feminine qualities such as weakness and passivity and passivity in language is passed down from generation to generation from mothers to daughters. Furthermore, women are expected to laugh at jokes men tell, not the other way around. Ways of Seeing also discusses what happens when a woman tells a joke. According to Berger (1977) if a woman makes a good joke this is an example of how she treats the joker in herself and accordingly of how she as a joker-woman would like to be treated by others. On the other hand, men are the only ones who can make a good joke for its own sake. Who’s telling the joke and whose being told the joke is an act of political struggle. The power relations of dominance and subordinate between genders are evident in both speech and sight. For example, men speak and women listen or men act and women appear or men see and women are seen/ men look and women are looked at.
A job requirement for becoming a female comedian is having the confidence to buck some of the biggest social mores. As a result, the Boom Jennies must eschew conventional notions of social behavior. The Boom Jennies have the dual problem of overcoming social norms about women speaking their minds, as well as establish a stage persona that uses rhetorical, assertive, confrontational, and masculine attributes of comedy while at the same time subverting the genre by addressing feminine topics. In the end, the Boom Jennies craft a distinct feminine narrative that addresses political, social, and cultural expectations of women’s identity. Lastly, the beauty of the Boom Jennies is the ability to make you laugh during the show and reflect on real feminine issues after the curtain has closed.

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