Tina Fey explains the difference between male and female comedy writers in The New Yorker: 'The men urinate in cups'

30-rockImage Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBCTina Fey has finally broken the men-vs.-women in comedy debate down into terms we can really understand. In her second piece in The New Yorker in the last month — both excerpts are from her upcoming book, Bossypants — she, ahem, blows the lid off the one major difference she’s noted between male and female comedy writers: “The men urinate in cups. And sometimes jars.” She goes on to describe, in harrowingly funny and truthful detail, encountering cups and jars of pee in various male-dominated offices and writers’ rooms. This is a more illuminating fact than you might imagine: “Not all of the men at SNL whizzed in cups. But four or five out of 20 did, so the men have to own that one. Anytime there’s a bad female standup somewhere, some idiot Interblogger will deduce that ‘women aren’t funny.’ Using that same math, I can deduce that male comedy writers also piss in cups.” 

Fey further explains that guys in comedy-land sometimes aren’t so much sexist as just clueless, as when some male producers on Saturday Night Live originally rejected a female writer’s idea for a commercial parody featuring “Kotex Classic,” with women wearing old ’60s-era sanitary-napkin belts peeking out over low-rise jeans. The men deemed it “too difficult to produce,” but it turned out they just didn’t get it. “They didn’t seem to know how cumbersome a sanitary-napkin belt was,” Fey writes. “It was the moment I realized that there was no ‘institutionalized’ sexism’ at this place — sometimes the guys just literally didn’t know what we were talking about. In the same way that I was not familiar with the completely normal custom of pissing in jars, they had never been handed a bulging antique Kotex product by the school nurse.”

If these insights aren’t exactly why Tina Fey has made it the extremely male comedy world — and why I’ll be buying her book the second it comes out — I don’t know what is. As she says early in the essay, “Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.” I, for one, never stop being thankful Lorne Michaels took a chance on her.

What about you, PopWatchers? Are you looking forward to Fey’s book as much as I am?

Comments (25 total) Add your comment
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  • banana

    I adore Tina Fey. I wish the book was out already! I hate that I’m gonna have to buy it in clink hardback tho. Boo.

    • banana

      *clunky hardback

      • Andre

        Go eBook!

        Also, since the author of this piece couldn’t do the research, “upcoming” for the book’s release means April 5, 2011.

  • E

    Her thoughts are interesting for sure, but I read her first New Yorker piece and wondered if it didn’t say more about her own harsh judgments of herself than others’ judgments of her, and if it didn’t read as particularly defensive and brittle. Just a thought.

  • Laurie

    Even in 1990 the middle school nurse’s supply of lady products were the size of diapers. Oh boys you had it so well and never even realized. Go Tina.

  • Dwight K Schrute

    Pretty vulgar and unintelligent.

    • me

      You’re right, peeing in cups is vulgar and unintelligent.

    • Rebecca

      Well with a name like Dwight K Schrute, what wouldn’t you find vulgar…

    • Roselí

      You’re right… peeing in cups is vulgar and unintelligent (+1). Fortunately, I’m a woman!

    • pj

      @Dwight K Schrute oh hai thar FH. new nickname? niiice yo

  • MisfitSpazz

    Love her! I can’t wait to read her book (when it comes out in paperback…). As for her being defensive and brittle – ummm…most comediens are, to a point. They usually make fun of themselves more than they do others.

  • Kristen

    I really wish her cover was better, but I will be purchasing the book. The woman is awesome and frankly, my role model.

    • Tela

      The man arms on the cover kinda freak me out.

  • anne

    I want to get the audio book. hearing her read these observations with all her inflections will be priceless.

  • Vicky

    It’s like Tiny Fey read my mind. I actually have a guy friend that always says, “Women comedians aren’t funny.” And I always thought to myself, “He’s a guy and just doesn’t understand the jokes.” It’s like when guy comedians tell penis jokes. Not really funny to me cause, hey, I’m a girl. It doesn’t mean those comedians aren’t funny at all or that I don’t like their other jokes.

  • Casey

    I actually might have to pick up a copy of her book. I’ve always found her brand of humor to be quite funny.

    Oh and 30 Rock is on an amazing roll this year isn’t it?

  • Leonie1988

    She is so brilliant! I’m from Germany, but I will order it in english as soon as it comes out. Though I will also get the audio book, I really want to hear Tina read it!

  • FH

    overrated hack

    • pj

      yes, FH, yes you are.

  • Jan

    Tina Fey is so smart and funny.

  • dropper

    I love Tina and cannot wait to get her book.

  • JJ


  • Roselí

    She’s the best and I love her show!!! Each episode is amazing and very funny!!!

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