Girls inherit wisdom about themselves at a young age, and some of that wisdom is undoubtedly meant to save us the time and energy of trying and failing. We’re told that we’re not good at math, that our hair looks better long, that we don’t have the attention span required to operate motor vehicles. And thank goodness, because now we don’t have to attempt to parallel park — we already know we won’t be any good at it! 

We’re also told we’re not funny, that we’re trying too hard and that we just can’t take a joke when one falls flat. We see this adage reflected in modern comedy, where men dominated the top ten highest-paying positions in the field in 2013. In a three-year period from 2011 to 2014, only 8.3 percent of headlining comedians at Caroline’s, one of the nation’s most well-known comedy clubs, were women. Maybe those 8.3 percent of headlining comedians didn’t get the memo that their routines just can’t compete Louis C.K.’s sex jokes, or maybe they’re onto something. Maybe, just maybe, women are as funny as men.

We the Ladies, a student-run group at UNC-Chapel Hill dedicated to closing the gender gap in comedy, hosted “Everything’s Fine! All-Femme Comedy Show” on Thursday, Nov. 16. The show featured 16 women comedians whose sketches and stand-up touched on topics ranging from men’s misunderstanding of menstruation to the dearth of women in film to Tinder dates gone horribly wrong. Each performed to a full house of over 100 people with standing-room-only. The whole show, only an hour long, elicited multiple rounds of raucous laughter from the crowd, and though it included only women comedians, the attendees were more diverse than I expected — almost equal parts men and women, all from different age groups.

After the show, I met with performer and UNC sophomore Claire Goray, whose stand-up focused on the absence of women in mainstream comedy. 

“Being on such a liberal campus, you believe that everything is equal,” Goray said. “That’s just kind of the bubble you’re in. But, in actuality, there aren’t many women in comedy and if there are, it’s like, Amy Schumer.”

For her, drawing attention to this disparity is essential in making women more comfortable in a comedic space. 

“It’s really hard for women,” she said. “It’s  especially hard to create your own voice. For there to be this platform where women can just be themselves, talk about what they want to talk about and just know that they’re supported is great. There’s a lot more women [who want to be] in comedy. Right now it’s literally just cis white men. We’ve got to diversify that.”

Goray touched on one of the most valuable things the show fostered: a space in which to talk about feminine issues — the bodily, the cultural and the personal.

“It’s a chance for women to talk about their periods and vaginas, but it’s also a chance to prove that women don’t just talk about their periods and vaginas,” she said. “There’s a lot more going on. We have a lot to say, and it’s stuff that ranges from stuff not related to our gender at all to stuff that’s literally about our physical autonomy.” 

In keeping with their campaign for gender equality, We the Ladies co-hosted the show with Chapel Hill’s Compass Center for Women and Families. All proceeds from “Everything’s Fine!” — either five dollars for entry or a donation of menstrual pads — benefitted the center, which, since its establishment in 1979, has strived to end the pattern of domestic violence through programs that both empower women and supply them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient. According to the Compass Center website, the center sees over 5,000 clients annually and is the only resource of its kind in the Orange County area.

Compass Center volunteer and UNC-CH junior Annie Ford said the Center now aims to serve more than just women and their families. 

“The Compass Center is looking to support people in the community who feel unsafe in their relationships, whether that’s a roommate relationship, an intimate partner relationship, or people who are trying to support friends who are experiencing violence in their relationships,” Ford said. “[It is] supposed to be a resource for everyone in the community, regardless of gender.”

According to We the Ladies’ Facebook page, the show raised over $400 for the Compass Center. 

We the Ladies and the performers who joined them showed up to prove a point — that regardless of what you’ve been told, women have a place in comedy. And that place isn’t defined by their bodies but by the diverse experiences women have in the world. No two sketches were alike because no two women comedians are alike. As is the case in many artistic fields (such as film and animation), women are no longer content to operate within the male-dominated status quo. 

When asked if she had any last comments, Goray said: “Tell the women of the world that they’re f---ing funny. I know a lot of men that sure aren’t, but they get attention like they are. A man cracks one joke in class and everyone’s like ‘he’s the class clown!’ But I know so many women who make snarky comments all day long and people are like ‘yeah, she’s funny sometimes.’”