Whether you’re petitioning for female comedians to have more representation in comedy or you just want some laughs, Oxygen’s new docu-series, Funny Girls, has something for you.
Funny Girls follows the professional and personal lives of six female comedians making it in Los Angeles. It’s lighthearted, though the ladies have their moments — they’re human, after all. We spoke with cast members Stephanie Simbari, Nicole Schreiber, and Yamaneika Saunders about their experiences on TV, in the comedy industry, and on Tinder. Find out what they had to say about each below, and catch the latest episode of Funny Girls when it airs tonight at 11 PM EST.
What are some of the differences between the New York and Los Angeles comedy scenes?
Yamaneika Saunders: New York is a little more authentic comedy — a little more raw, and not so pretty. L.A. comedy is very pretty, very packaged, and tight. New York comedy is very raw, gritty. It’s more organic.
Where do you typically draw inspiration from?
Stephanie Simbari: Inspiration to me is kind of like magic. I’m not quite sure where it comes from but it’s happening all around. The struggle is in being awake enough to write down what stands out and go somewhere with it.
Nicole Schreiber: The Italian Renaissance — the late Renaissance, of course. I kid, I kid. I’d say just about anything that happens over the course of my day and throughout my life inspires my jokes. Typically the more adverse a situation, the more I find myself actually needing to write about it.
Is comedy still predominantly a boys club?
YS: Comedy is a boys’ club, but that’s because boys have set up the rules. Comedy did not start with a woman setting up the rules. This is why cosmetics is a girl’s world, right? Because we set up the rules in that. But it doesn’t mean that men haven’t come in and made their mark. We also have allowed that. We need men to allow women to have their space to come in and be who they need to be without having to fight.
Do you think the show is helping comedy make a change to not be so male-dominated?
YS: Our show is about comedians. We just want people to see that we’re human beings. We’ve heard a lot of positive things so far, but a lot of things have been like, “Well, they’re talking about relationships.” Yeah! Because we’re f–kin’ women with a damn vagina that’s trying to get a penis inside of it. We still don’t have the luxury to just be who we are without having to have a f–kin’ mission statement.
I actually enjoy when you guys talk about relationships. I love when Nicole talks about Tinder.
YS: Everybody’s installed and uninstalled Tinder so damn much my phone can’t take it any longer. My phone sees it as a virus. I’ve emailed Tinder.
How would you describe your own style of comedy?
NS: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, my comedic style is best described as utter perfection with a slight hint of derision. I’m an a–hole. My comedy is that of an asshole who likes to make fun of herself and anyone or anything in her life.
SS: This is always such a hard question for me because I only know what I’m giving, I don’t know what I’m being perceived as. I can really only base it off of what people tell me, and the most common compliment I get is that people like how casual I am, which I think is hilarious because this is the only job where being casual is a positive.
YS: I call out bulls-t.
The show feels like it has a competitive edge to it at times. Do you consider yourself a competitive person?
YS: The reason why I don’t think it’s competitive is because I know we’re all at different stages. Sometimes, as a woman, you’re competing for one spot. If you’re a minority, you’re competing for one spot. When we think about the grand scheme of comedy, there’s something for everyone. The only thing we have to do is find out who these people are. Who are these people that like Yamaneika? It may not be your grandmother but it might be your grandfather.
Are there any subjects that you just won’t joke about?
YS: I’m really reckless. [Laughs.] I don’t take myself too seriously. I have made jokes about Bruce Jenner. I’ve made jokes like, “You’re with the Kardashians. You mean to tell me you couldn’t get a better hairdo and you can’t get better breasts than that?” But it’s not about him becoming a transgender. It’s more about that funniness of him being around these women who are very stunning and now he’s trying to be a woman and he’s not what I consider to be a stunning woman yet. Then you think about it, and the back end, there’s so much focus on his feelings and the transgender community and what they’re feeling. Sometimes you have to think, “How can I execute what I’m trying to say without really hurting someone’s feelings?”
Who’s killing it in comedy right now?
NS: Sarah Silverman for sure. She is my golden calf. I really identify with her. We are both super Jews with super Jewish powers. After that, I’d say Patrice O’Neal, Ian Edwards, Godfrey. Mainly all male comics since I really identify with them as well.
YS: Amy Schumer is really killin’ it. I just saw something with her and it said “The Queen of Comedy,” which is huge. Hannibal Buress is doin’ it. Aside from Patrice O’Neal, Gina Yashere is probably the only person that I have really been drinking something and spit fluid out of my mouth and then ran around the room like crying tears like “Ahhhh!”
Do you have a favorite comedy show on TV right now?
YS: I don’t know if it’s comedy, but I love watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta. That needs to be in animation.