maybe we should blame the spice girls.

So, Irwin’s hoping I’ll start some sort of comedy blog war with his latest post. Really, the main problem I have is continuing to refer to him by his online handle. The man is nothing like the character name he’s hiding behind, so it never sticks in my head.


Let me just say that I love all the words he used to say I’m funny and unique and special and should be dancing in the streets thanking the comedy gods they attached my wit to a vagina, but in doing so he proved my point.

His main complaint is that a woman gets the job he thinks there are hundreds more men qualified for. There’s one more slot in the room of ten writers, but instead of going to him — or a him equivalent — because he’s more qualified or funnier (but not more qualified or funnier than the other nine men, for some reason), it goes to “some girl,” and it doesn’t matter if that girl is funny or not. He complains that sometimes that girl is so not funny, so not funny at all.

Maybe the reason he’s sometimes working with “the girl” who isn’t funny is because in some cases when they have to hire “the girl,” they go to their go-to girl: one they know won’t make problems, or one they know from before, or one they don’t think is pretty/sexy/flirty/single/straight enough to cause “problems,” or one that has been waiting for such a chance and they’re taking a risk, or whatever. There are more men than women doing this job, so if it went off pure qualifications and who-you-know, probably there would be even fewer women in these jobs. Would that make it more fair? No. Irwin fails to mention how many times he’s found himself working with a man who’s intensely unfunny, who every day he’s like, “Guy! Why did they hire him?” Does he shrug his shoulders and go, “Must be because he’s a guy. Damn this patriarchal comedy system!” No, he doesn’t. The dick is never the reason why that dick got hired.

In full disclosure, Brian and I were hired at the same level for the same job back in season one. I was hired before he was, and he was the last writer hired to fill our room, coming on a few weeks after some of them had been there… I think one week after I’d been there. I guess because they already had their “girl,” they could have their… Irwin. And I don’t know what Irwin submitted in order to get hired, or how many interviews he went through. But I’m pretty sure that at no point was his gender discussed in order for him to get his job.

Not so with me. And not that I have a problem with it. But there’s still a difference.

One night I went out to dinner with the Boss Man, and he confessed that part of the reason I was hired was because I was a woman. His wife immediately took sympathy with me, saying that I wouldn’t want to hear that I had gotten the job because I was blessed with the double-X. But Ned/Carlos (seriously, all the fake names are driving me crazy) said that for him it was a bonus. He liked my jokes, and loved my sample, and was even happier to find out that I was a girl. He said he hired me mostly because I was “sick and twisted and dark and funny,” but it was icing on the comedy cake that it also filled his “girl” requirement. I don’t know if he had a girl requirement, but it made things even better, for him, for the room, to have a female. I think, if Carlos got to hire whomever he wanted, he wouldn’t have made sure to have a girl. Case in point: it’s not like our writing room is filled with minorities, despite the topics on which we’re supposed to be experts.

On my first day, when I went in to say hello to the other Boss Man, he commented that I was wearing an extraordinary amount of pink. Smirking, I said, “Well, I figured I’d be the only girl, so I thought I’d girly the place up a bit.”

He immediately stammered, saying that I wasn’t hired because I was a girl, and that it doesn’t matter if I’m a girl or not.

“I’m kidding,” I said. But way to start off on the right foot, Ribon! Sometimes I really need to shut up.

Of course there are perks to being a female comedy writer. But that’s only if I can back up my minority status with something good. Because they aren’t going to pick me over someone else for any other reason than I’m funnier than the next girl, or have more experience than the other girl, or I’m the girl they’d like to stick with because I’ve been really good at the job. Which is probably exactly the same requirements Irwin is up against when he’s at a job interview. For every job I get picked over him because I’m a girl, there’s another job where he’d get picked over me because he’s Irwin. Not because he’s a guy, but because he’s Irwin, and a badass.

It’s not like I’ve had a lot of experience with this, so I’m still new to it all, but I rarely go in for a job where my gender isn’t discussed.

“This is the kind of room where we have to be able to say anything. Are you going to be one of those girls who files a sexual harrassment suit, or are you gonna be cool?”

That was from my very first Hollywood writing job interview. I believe I answered, “Fuck yeah, I’m cool.” Pam did not get the job. And it’s been pointed out to me that the only reason they said that was because somewhere along the way, some girl “ruined it” for the rest of us by filing a sexual harrassment suit. This does not give me comfort. It’s still about me being a girl, and what they think it means to have a girl on board. Girl first, then me.

“We’re looking for women with a strong, female voice.” The head writer was a man.

“No offense, but what do you know about writing for a sixty-year old white man?” Pam did not get the job, and the showrunner (male) was probably right.

Hot Properties was split right down the middle with men and women, with a female showrunner and a male non-writing executive producer. Gender didn’t seem to be an issue with the hiring of the staff, even though the entire show was supposed to be about the female experience. Did my female status get me that job? Yes and no. I was supposed to be up for another sitcom, but at the end of the day the network declared that to hire someone at my level, the show needed to hire a Latina. Their show called Hot Properties to recommend me, and while they admitted they weren’t interested in hiring someone at my level they read my sample anyway, brought me in for an interview, and after I dorked out about Oprah for an hour, Suzanne asked me to join her room. For the show I didn’t get, I might have been a woman, but I was too white for the room. So, Irwin, it happens even if you’re not male. It happens even if you’re funnier than someone else. But the fact is they want their room to look and sound a certain way, and you just have to hope you fit the bill.

But if he thinks for a second I wouldn’t have been working with him if I didn’t make the Boss Man laugh with my sample, and just came in as some girl who needed a job? He’s mistaken.

“You’re cute,” Carlos said the second he met me, with shock and awe.

“You saying I write ugly?” I responded (again, always making a stellar first impression).

“Bitch, that’s a compliment!” he said back, thus cementing the patter of our banter forevermore.

If “The Soup” couldn’t find a funny woman in their stack of submissions, as Irwin says, then The Soup wasn’t asking the right agents. Or the right friends. Or stuck their head out the door and shouted, “Can I get a funny girl to make a submission?” Because, come on. But then he says they did eventually find a girl, and she was “very funny.” So that means that the girl they hired either reads Irwin’s page and he’d still someday like to bang her (or he already did. Irwin’s got game, so I’m not making any assumptions), or they went through that giant stack of all the women trying to get the job and finally found one “good enough” for The Soup. One. One girl. One special girl.

Which is precisely my point.

So, Irwin, my fine friend, as we’ve often said to each other over the years: Suck it, homie.

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