Updated April 15th, 2018
Ask a man what he finds sexy in a woman, and he make likely answer “a sense of humor.” And it that’s true, then there is no shortage of female comics out there who prove that funny=sexy. Let’s face it: Life gives women a lot of material for comedic gold—from puberty to giving birth to breastfeeding to menopause—all of which makes for excellent stand-up.
It’s been a long road to the top for women comics, who’ve had to endure gender bias and a male-dominated entertainment industry along the way. Comedic pioneer and genius Lucille Ball once said in an interview that she was able to break into comedy because she wasn’t afraid of not being pretty. “A lot of the really beautiful girls didn’t want to do some of the things I did—put on mud packs and scream and run around and fall into pools … I didn’t mind getting messed up. That’s how I got into physical comedy.”
Whether they’re known for physical comedy or rapier sharp wit or both, here are 10 of our favorite female comics who prove that women really are funnier.
1. Chelsea Handler Brassy, brazen and balls-out is the best way to describe this broad of late night sensation, who tells it like it is, isn’t afraid of being self-deprecating, and could likely out-joke any man with just one flick of her gin-bloated little finger.
2. Ellen That’s right, she doesn’t even need her surname here, because there is only one Ellen. She has shown us a smooth brand of effortless, always-sharp comedy that makes us feel downright good. Oh, and she pretty much revolutionized television as one of the first openly gay women on prime time.
3. Sarah Silverman The guy’s girl of comedy, Silverman redefined the answer to “what is acceptable” by joking about by everything under the sun, including rape, the Holocaust and other such taboos that gave many an eyebrow raise.
4. Kristen Wiig The facial expressions alone on this SNL veteran are enough to crack us up. Wiig isn’t afraid to look ugly, play a flawed or downright unlikable character, or deconstruct the notion of “feminine perfection.” She celebrates the freak inside all of us.
5. Tina Fey Tina Fey is the one all the guys secretly wish they’d married. Billing herself as the “homely girl”—and she’s not!—with the wild imagination, Fey’s hilarious memoir Bossypants, the hit show “30 Rock” and countless moments on SNL have made us howl with laughter. Oh, and Mean Girls? Thank you, Tina!
6. Joan Rivers If we had to give this mother of crude comedy a nickname it would be “The Mouthpiece.” But Rivers is also a trailblazer for female comics, as she held her own against titans like Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan. Love her or hate her, no other female comic on this list would be where she is today without Auntie Joan.
7. Wanda Sykes We love her cynicism and straight-faced delivery. Sykes has been called one of the funniest stand-up comics by her peers and ranked among Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America.
8. Cecily Strong This SNL newcomer has hit the ground running with the coveted “Weekend Update” slot formerly filled by the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Strong grew up watching Saturday Night Live, and now she sits in the Weekend Update anchor chair—nice going!
9. Amy Poehler There’s something about Amy, an eccentricity, an odd delightfulness that makes her at once awkward and adorable. She gets an A from us, either way. From SNL to Mean Girls to “Parks and Recreation,” Amy makes the case for blondes getting to have just a little bit more fun.
10. Mindy Kaling Mindy crushed in “The Office,” as Kelly Kapoor, a sort of precursor to the “Shoshanna” character on “Girls,” and today carries the torch for her own unique brand of comedy on the show “The Mindy Project,” and with her memoir, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me,” both of which have her well-positioned on the map of female comics.