Body Image and Comedy
Post by Auntie Vice
Most of the time I write about body image, it is in relationship to representation in porn. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about how bodies are represented, sexualized and marketed. When I have filmed my own porn films, I spend a lot of time thinking about casting and how the people will be received. I have an extended post on producing porn here.
Comics, like porn stars, have body image issues. I have lost count of the the number of guys who joke about being overweight and having “dad” bodies. Louis C.K., Gabriel Iglesias, and Doug Benson all have extended bits on their bodies. Iglesias has created a whole persona and running theme about being a “fluffy” guy.
Women also joke about their bodies. Carrie Snow, Amy Schumer, and Elvira Kurt are the first to come to my mind, but there are plenty of others. Like men, women tend to joke about their bodies when they are overweight. Hell, I even have my joke that of course I like giving blow jobs. I am a fat girl who smokes. I am always putting something in my mouth.
What is interesting to me is there is a powerful intersectionality between body images, race, and what seems to be okay to joke about. Fat White people are completely comfortable joking about being fat. I have seen fewer Black men and almost no Black women joke about being overweight. The Latina/o comics I have watched almost never acknowledge body image except Iglesias. There are a lot fewer well-known Asian and India comics to look too, but I have found almost none who talk about weight (dick size is another topic).
However, female comics almost never talk about their bodies when they are hot. Other than one special hosted by Jenny McCarthy with four female comics, I have rarely seen very attractive female comics reference their bodies. Women comics who are traditionally hot often never reference their bodies at all. People like Anjelah Johnson and Whitney Cummings rarely, if ever, mention their looks. Its almost like acknowledging you are a hot woman on stage is too intimidating for people to deal with.
It is more common for a good looking man to point out that he is hot. This seems to be acceptable for White and Black men. Again, there are too few comics of other racial descents to make a decent comparison beyond Black and White. The fact that Aziz Ansari cast a Chinese male comic as a sex symbol is getting a lot of press – mostly about how odd/rare it is to see a Chinese guy as sexy.
As a new female comic, I spend some time thinking about how, as my body changes, it will impact my comedy. Right now, I am a big White girl. That is well-traveled territory for making body jokes. However, in the past year, my chronic condition is causing me to lose weight at a rapid pace for an unknown reason. While I am personally glad to be dropping sizes while doing nothing but going to bars to tell stupid jokes, I do think about what might happen if I ever hit an acceptable weight.
I rock a decent pair of tits, I know that. They have been acknowledged by several comics on stage at mics around town. I am use to people pointing out by breasts and am not overly uncomfortable with these jokes. However, I know when someone actually considers me attractive and acknowledges it, I am vastly uncomfortable. Being on stage when I know people aren’t thinking about me as a sex object is comfortable. I can joke about my body and it doesn’t bother me now. Honestly, though, the idea of someone watching me crack dumb jokes and think I am hot freaks me out.
I am not sure where this goes with my comedy, but I do spend time thinking about it. I am kind of hoping that by the time I am to goal weight, I will be outside the age range for “hot.”