I'm 26 years old, I work in an office, I pay my own bills, and I am wearing a blazer. Last night I was too intimidated to ask a cute boy for a date. This boy is a catch because he has a job working at Applebee's.
What's the deal with this "girls need to prove geek cred" bullshit?
For whatever reason, the big icky issue that I keep seeing brought up this week is how young women need to jump through a series of hoops now to prove they are actually nerds. I’m actually kind of itching to talk about this on stage, but I’ll say something serious here.
This whole debate breaks my heart. People who know me well in real life know what a dweeb I am. I wrote Harry Potter fan fiction in college, I have a long box of comics under my bed, I adore Star Trek, I skipped senior prom to see Star Wars, I play RPG, etc. They also know that I somehow managed to pull the oh-so-cliched “ugly duckling into swan transformation” in recent years. The longer a person has known me, the more that person knows what a socially inept gimp I was as a girl and how much I used fantasy to cope with all the personal tragedy and emotional trauma I was going through as a kid. Those people also know that my “transformation” from “dork wad” to “pretty girl” took a long time. It wasn’t an overnight makeover.
I bring this up because people who don’t know me well have literally told me that when they first met me or saw me on stage, they thought I was one of those “pretty girls who says she’s a nerd to cater to geeks.” Within ten minutes of actually talking to me, they realized I was legit. However, the fact that people are questioning my geek status (what the fuck does that even mean?) is really disgusting to me. The fact that other women are starting to create rules for what constitutes a geek girl and what doesn’t, or conversely, that they are creating constitutions for being a geek girl, is incredibly disturbing.
Why? Well, because nerdom has been the thing that has brought me true female friends. When I was in fifth grade I realized that Rebecca—a girl in a grade below me—also liked action films and history. We had never gotten along until then, but after that became best friends. She introduced me to the expanded universe of Star Wars novels, and I would write hilarious sci-fi serials for her to read. In high school, I had a hard time finding anyone I really could be friends with until a girl in my art class named Heather found out I dorkily liked The Phantom of the Opera. “You’re a theater person, too!” she squealed. I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew I liked Shakespeare and drama and Andrew Lloyd Webber. We skipped senior prom to see Star Wars, gushed over Harry Potter together and snuck into Rocky Horror Picture Show as minors. In college, again, Harry Potter and Edwardian dramas united me with my best friend. After college, once more I was having trouble finding people to relate to, until I started hanging out with the gals who worked in the comic book store I had just started to frequent. I feel fortunate to have all of these female friendships because they weren’t based upon fear or insecurity or the need to feel popular. We were drawn to each other as “kindred spirits” because we were all passionate about the world of imagination. We liked art and history and the idea that people could overcome adversity. Did petty squabbles arise? Yes. Instances of female jealousy? Sure. But in all of these friendships, we were able to talk through them or admit to each other when we made mistakes. We didn’t get catty. There was no need to. Like I said, we weren’t friends because we were trying to fit in. We were friends because we appreciated how we didn’t fit in.
Geekdom has brought me so many friendships—male and female alike—that I really value. Moreover, these friendships helped me value my inner life. In the real world, we are constantly judged by what we look like and what we’ve accomplished and where we’re from, etc. Now, because I’ve grown up to be a poised young woman who fits in with conventional ideas of beauty, I feel like this inner life is being disenfranchised. It used to be that I would know that when I met someone else who gushed over the Avengers or Doctor Who that I could let my guard down. I could trust that they liked me for me. We were similar. Now, that people are trying to create these lines of “geek” and “not geek”, I feel like I can never be a geek again. I even wonder if I want to. Because that’s what made being a geek so beautiful: it didn’t matter what you looked like—it mattered what you liked.
ETA: I just want to add that I understand that the crux of the issue is that being a geek means loving some weird thing even though it’s not popular to. What’s happened is that comic books, Star Wars and Harry Potter are mainstream things now. So, it’s actually harder to tell if someone likes those things genuinely (which was how geeks used to find each other), or if they’re just tourists in the popular fandom. Unfortunately, attractive women are the only demographic being attacked for this. That’s another piece of the puzzle…but…*sigh*…I had to explain to unattractive, awkward dudes what the Cosmic Cube was after Thor. Like…come on, people! If you’re going to criticize women, criticize men, too.
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Which dog should grace the Facebook invite for my July 5 "Americana Hangover" themed edition of "We're So Glad You're Here!"?
All-American Lab Puppy?
The General Patton of Pugs?
The Scrappy Trans-Atlantic English Bulldog?
He looks like a Thomas Nast cartoon brought to life!
Proud, patriotic and perky.
N.B.:They’d be following in the illustrious pawprints of this puppy:
This show is on July 5; The July 19 show will commemorate the anniversary of Lady Jane Grey’s ascension to the British monarchy. Yes, I’m aware I’m following an American themed show with a British themed one. August 2 is Alan Alda themed. Eventually, there will be a robot themed one. DEAL WITH IT.
The internet is telling me to see Ana Gasteyer tonight.
I still feel like I’m going to be kidnapped by mature twinks if I go alone. Okay. That’s totally not true because that wouldn’t even be a bad thing. I’m just afraid of sitting by myself in a fancy place all awkward-like. But I guess the performance will make it worth while?
My company summer party is tonight from 6pm - 10pm. Do I:
(a) Spend my entire night there.
(b) Spend the first part of the night there and then do the 9:30pm Motel Luca open mic.
(c) Spend the first hour there (or skip it all together) and then go to Feinstein’s for Ana Gasteyer’s show. Note that Ana Gasteyer’s show will cost me about $65 when all is said and done, and I will probably be sitting creepily by myself, but it’s Ana Fucking Gastyer.
Friday, as you know, I went to the FrISC competition at the UCB. Last night, I caught Stranger and the Baldwins at the PIT and then went to Williamsburg for a party one of my Level 4 Improv friends was having. I got into a very heated discussion about certain improv teams and theaters, which I’ll get to later. Now, I’m running late for a brunch with some lovely Magnet ladies and later today, I’ll try to squeeze in a mic and then meet up with the Day Camp Kids to hopefully see ASSSSSCAT (enough S’s?) for the first time in like five or six years. So, I’m basically squeezing the breaks on stand up this weekend to mingle around the NYC Improv scene. This feels good.
Like I said, last night I got into a discussion about a couple of very popular improv teams. One, in particular, I was being hard on because I’ve only seen two of their shows and neither were all that impressive to me. The person I was chatting with wouldn’t allow it. “They’re the best—coolest—funniest improv team in the world!” he protested, and I tried to explain that I thought they worried more about being cool on stage than actually being ‘in’ the scene. And then he made me feel like I was shit-talking all the improvisers (who are all clearly amazing—I just thought they were also clearly not focused enough), which I wasn’t. And of course, the whole thing turned into us ranking the good and bad of all the major improv theaters and teams in the city—though I felt like he was trying to twist it into me, again, shit-talking everyone.
Here’s the thing that I believe: there isn’t one city, one theater, one team, one performer that truly nails EVERYTHING about improv. It’s such a fluid form that’s always changing, it’s impossible. The best performers emphasize what their best at and work at improving what they’re not. They watch other performers humbly, while still understanding that they own what they do. This is why I feel very strongly that it’s a mistake to vault one theater or one team over all the rest. It’s a huge mistake to create rivalries between theaters and teams. I’ve seen what that leads to in Boston: bitterness, insecurity, jealousy and creative stagnation. If you are always open to say that other performers (even if they don’t do things in a style you personally respond to) have *something* that you don’t, and you’d like to support them, and learn from them, then you have the opportunity to grow.
I’ve had to explain to a lot of people lately why I didn’t start improv at the UCB. Because, you know, “they’re the best.” Honestly? It was a matter of timing and money. Before I moved here, the first class that was open was a writing class at the Magnet with Armando. Did it. Then the improv at the UCB was filled, but a writing 101 was open. Snatched a spot. I was going to hold off on improv, and then I saw friends at the PIT and liked the community so much (and got that ‘itch’ to do improv again), so I signed up for improv at the PIT. Then when stand up started taking over my life last Fall, I hit pause on all the classes. This spring I knew I needed improv again, so I picked up with Level 3 at the PIT. Once I finish Level 5 in early September, I’m finally going back to the UCB for my Sketch 201. Then, if money and scheduling allows, I’ll start improv at the UCB in 2012. It’s really all about the money and scheduling issues.
Like…it wasn’t planned that way, but I actually like the way it all worked out. I have friends at all three theaters. I’ve seen great shows at all three theaters. I’ve seen terrible shows at all three theaters. I also can actually appreciate good improv through hype and notice mistakes that masters make. I think in the long run, it’s going to make me better…so why are so many people afraid of admitting that if you open your mind to doing your art a different way, you might get better?
Attention, New York! There are still tix available for Ana’s cabaret show this Monday night! What better way to celebrate being granted a basic civil right???? (Marriage)
Does anyone else want to see this? I have a company party that night, so I could get drunk for free there and then go to this. Anyone?? Bueller??
Also, who wants to hear about the time I got snuck into the premiere of Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna’s Broadway show last year and almost sat one seat away from Elaine Stritch? I also saw Liza up close, the Countess skulking the halls with what looked like a young male escort and sipped wine at the same after-party table top with Robert Zimmerman.
I just got drunk in a neighborhood wine bar with this amazing 69 year old woman (she looked early 50’s) who would say things like, “I’m an actress! I trained for 8 years in Ireland and then I trained here,” or “As they say in Italy…” or “I sang in South America!” or “They let me sing there all the time!” or “My honey…he’s gone now…would…” or (European hand off chin “fuck off” symbol) or “You’re ‘muy importente’ to me” or “I want you to have dinner with me—seriously,” or “Call me—seriously,” or “Meghan, look at me,” or “They can kiss a rat’s ass,” or “I don’t think you can trust anyone—not even your friends,” or “I drink a LOT of wine (points to glass)” like…ALL THE TIME.
IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. I’M SO GOING TO CALL HER AND SHE WON’T EVEN REMEMBER WHO I AM. IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING.
I just came back from the UCB where I saw the improv portion of the FrISC competition. All the teams were great. Throughout the night, I began wondering to myself how the judges would vote. Would they reward funny over form? Prefer jokes based on game over relationships? Then, the final act, The Mantzoukas Brothers took the stage. Within the first minute—before they even took their suggestion (they spent about two minutes up top introducing themselves)—I KNEW they had won.
I’m not sure how consistent they are, but tonight’s show was a literal masterclass in improv comedy. Like, I said, they didn’t immediately get a suggestion and go. They walked on with this calm, confident nonchalance. They just held the stage and committed to the idea that they KNEW what they were doing. All the other teams sort were nervous or excited or came on with a very “pleasing” attitude. It’s something you see in stand up all the time. The thing that separates the really good comics from the dregs like me is that the really good comics walk on the stage like they don’t care about the outcome of the set. They don’t care if you like them. They just care about being themselves and rocking their own shit. That’s how I knew within a minute that they won. They owned their own power.
When they finally got their suggestion, they spent a minute or so emotionally mirroring each other and then the next few minutes establishing a relationship. Every line, every movement was honored. Nothing was wasted. Every offer was accepted. They picked up on every game and dropped every game right before it would stop working. They controlled everything. When they did sexual gross out humor (and it got sexual and it got gross and it crossed some taste boundaries), it was still based on character, relationship and the world they had built. They had plot twists that made sense contextually. They had consistently brilliant wordplay. They used the audience. They broke the fourth wall in a way that kept the fourth wall intact—I don’t know—it’s like they turned the fourth wall into glass. Even at one moment, where they went too far, they commented upon it in a way that worked in the scene. When the 20 minute buzzer went off and the blackout fell, they had just hit the set’s crystal clear denouement.
And the whole time, they never made it look like they actually cared about whether they won or not. It didn’t matter. They had the power, and we were lucky to be in the audience to see them play.
It was simply some of the most gorgeous improv I’ve ever seen and I do feel lucky to have been in the audience. Gorgeous…
Okay, does Hillstone suck, or is just me? (or is it just because I'm a girl?)
I was told that I would have to vamoosh for at least an hour during lunch today. There’s an A/C unit above my desk that needed to be replaced. Fun, right? Well, it’s raining, so I couldn’t go on my usual afternoon walk. That also means that I couldn’t use my extra lunch time to go shopping or anything fun. So, I made an executive decision to suck it up financially and go to Hillstone for lunch. I could sit at the bar, have a diet coke, eat a good meal and stay out of the rain for an hour.
I really wish I had never gone to Hillstone. (Bad food and possibly sexist and racist service to follow…)
I wonder if not linking to the hairpin article might have been a mistake, since they did MENTION it…sometimes I just forget to link stuff at the end. But I DID notice the Julie Klausner thing omission. Interesting.
Yeah…I mean, I figured they just forgot to link your original article, too, but they are heavily promoting that “Tweenysomething” article on twitter and it’s clearly inspired—or connected—to Klausner’s piece. I actually was about to publish a similar article about being a twenty something who acts girlish, and the whole thing very obviously cited Klausner’s work as inspiration. It was about establishing a dialogue on the topic. That’s fine. In fact, you should want to create a dialogue between different female voices. But yeah…it seems like they are blithely ignoring the fact that their website could be involved in a very interesting intellectual debate about the topic of women behaving girlish. I think that’s what bothers me the most. They could be involved in some awesome dialogue, but they’re dodging it.
I was away for the entire weekend, but the only drama that happened was still happening in New York. I got a drunk text from a “friend” that was meant for someone else. In the text he called another female comic “a funnier, hotter version” of me and that the person who was supposed to receive the text should book the other girl for some show. He then spent the next hour sending me texts apologizing and saying he wanted to commit suicide and that he had had my back from the beginning. And then I had to make him feel better, because fuck my feelings.
Basically, I’m more pissed off that this dramatic shit had to ruin my weekend than anything else. I know people say mean shit about me behind my back. I know a lot of people hate me. I know a lot of people who were my friends six months ago would rather I just fall off the face of the Earth now. Tough shit for them, because I’m not going anywhere. People can talk shit about me all they want, I would honestly just prefer not to hear about it. I mean, what really made this suck was that this weekend I was on vacation. I was having dinner with family when this happened. I was trying to disconnect from all the petty bullshit in NYC and this had to ruin my dinner.
Whatever. I’m just going to keep on doing what makes me happy. I believe in me, so if other people don’t, that’s their issue.
Ugh…this is just like Middle School…except now I like myself.
“I’m so glad you like [my diarrhea and fart jokes]. That really means a lot. I have a rule. You can never *show* the diarrhea. You can talk about it, but you can never *show* the diarrhea. Because I don’t really like gross-out humor. I like humor that is more…immature. Yeah, that’s the word for it. So, yeah, you can never *show* the diarrhea…”—
I was reading about the Republican senator who crossed party lines to vote pro-gay marriage in New York and how he told naysayers, “Well, f—- it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”
That’s pretty awesome, and then I spotted this gem in the same article:
In hopes of attracting needed Senate GOP votes, Cuomo’s bill offers some exemptions from anti-discrimination laws to religious groups and affiliated organizations. Knights of Columbus, for instance, would be allowed to bar same-sex couples from renting out catering hall space.
This cracks me up, if only because my dad was in the Knights of Columbus. He actually told my mom what their “secret initiation test” was. Essentially, it boiled down to, “Do what we tell you, scrubs!” and my dad said, “Fuck off! You’re being assholes! This is bullshit. I’m going to do what’s right.” And then, the Knights of Columbus were all like, “Hurrah! You passed! You’re one of us, now, you asshole!”
And that’s how you join a Catholic fraternity that evidently wants to ban gay people from getting married in their halls: call them out on their bullshit.
I have no idea where I’m going with this, except real blue collar Americans actually seem to admire it when people are willing to tell other people to fuck off in order to do the right thing. Or at least it seems the ones who were brought up in post WW2 New York State do.
Now, I’m not trying to be a hater, comedivas. Really, I’m not. I’m thrilled that boobs are no longer an impediment to running for President of United States. But why does it seem like in order to get even close to the White House, you gotta be kind of a crazy b*tch?
Yeah…but this means she’s in the news. When women are in the news for politics, that means there’s more opportunities for women in political humor. Who dominated the comedy landscape during the last election? Oh, right…Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Bad for the country, good for ladies in comedy.