Perhaps you stumbled across a new and conspicuous Vanity Fair spread today. You know, the one featuring a photograph of all of the current late-night television hosts. You might even have noticed a striking similarity uniting said hosts. If you look closely, you’ll see that—I know this is a surprise—they’re ALL male! But Trevor Noah, the new host of The Daily Show, urges us not to worry. As far as he’s concerned, women hold the brunt of the power in comedy.
“I don’t agree with the notion that there are no women in comedy,” Noah tells Newsweek on September 14.
I don’t agree with that either, Trevor! There are many excellent women comedians. And yet...
But hey, late night television only represents one division of comedy. “I would...argue that women are more powerful in comedy right now,” continues Noah. He proceeds, “If you look at the top comedy actors, Melissa McCarthy by far is killing the numbers of other actors. You look at Amy Schumer right now—I would argue that there is no more preeminent voice in comedy. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, their movies coming out...” I assume that, at this point, Noah’s voice trailed off as he basked in his delusions of equal representation.
Vanity Fair introduces its article on “the titans of late night” with the ludicrously blinkered headline, “Why Late-Night Television Is Better than Ever.” A photograph of the late-night hosts, “clutching whiskeys and decked-out in Mad Men-style garb” immediately follows. The title and photo concept alone do not, to say the least, inspire confidence.
“Yes, that Vanity Fair cover is all men, which is what it is,” Noah concedes, repetitively. But see, we’re focusing on the negative, and dear Trevor wants us to walk on the sunny, oblivious side of the street:
“I guess what we need to look at is how is that evolving? The first step in that is you go, OK, there’s two men of color. That’s a big jump. Pretty soon there will be a woman that’ll be added to that. And there will probably be more women, which is gonna be fantastic. And over time, that’ll happen; it’s a conversation that we need to continue having.”
Noah is right: we do need to continue this conversation. And sure, the inclusion of men of color is one step forward. But the year is 2015, and we are just now anticipating the launch of a woman-hosted late night show. It’s difficult to praise progress when it is nearly obscured by stasis — when one of the most popular magazines in the English language refers to an all male late-night roll call as “better than ever.”
Your heart is in the right place, Trevor Noah. Your complacency, however, is part of the problem.
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Top Image via Getty. Embedded Image via Instagram.