The 2018 Grammy nominations are here, and while there is much cause to celebrate — the album of the year category won’t include a single white man for the first time since 1999 — as a woman in comedy, it was hard not to notice some glaring omissions when it comes to this year’s best comedy album nominees. In 2017, we saw specials from Chelsea Lately favorite Jen Kirkman, Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata, and Girls Trip breakout star Tiffany Haddish. And yet, of the five albums nominated, only one work by a woman, Sarah Silverman’s A Speck of Dust, will be considered for the top prize.
The rest of the names on the nominee list would be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in comedy — Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Dave Chapelle, Kevin Hart. That’s not to say these men aren’t icons, or that their albums aren’t funny, but in a year where women in the field have had a light shone on their trauma in previously unprecedented ways, the fact that only one woman will be considered for one of comedy’s highest honors, is, for lack of a better word, a huge bummer.
In 2017 (as in all years since the beginning of time, but whose counting?), women in comedy have battled an intense and emotionally triggering news cycle. The constant exposure and rehashing of abuse has taken a toll on our mental state. We’re constantly drawn into conversations about the most embarrassing and disheartening parts of our career, expected to somehow spin this trauma into laughs, and not lose our footing in the harshly competitive world of comedy. To say that only one of us — beloved veteran and verifiable guys’ girl Sarah Silverman — made it through this hell year with art that is worthy of praise, is an insult to every woman who, to quote another beloved guys’ girl, took her broken heart and turned it into art this year.
Female comedians have been asked, over and over, to drudge up our pain in public. We’ve had to deal with the recent string of allegations against white male comedy “hero” Louis C.K (allegations that many women in comedy — myself included — had heard and been vocal about years ago), or the allegations of rape against comedians Aaron Glaser and Cale Hartmann that led to their being banned from theaters in both New York and Los Angeles, sparking nationwide conversations about how to keep women safe in such a male-dominated field.
We’ve been asked to “come forward,” to “speak out,” to share our experiences. We’ve collectively laid bare all the heartaches, disappointments and the disrespect that comes with pursuing our passion. In female comedy circles, I’ve seen countless women express their exhaustion with this process. The constant re-opening of old wounds in hopes that our male colleagues will finally see what we’ve been shouting into a microphone for years, but only gained traction when Jon Stewart said it on the Today Show: that comedy, on its best day, is not a hospitable environment for women. This year’s Grammy nominees, sadly, only serve to reinforce that notion.
Maybe next year, ladies. And best of luck to you, Sarah. No pressure, but this one’s for all of us.
Alise Morales is comedian who performs UCB Theatre in New York and the managing editor and head political writer at Betches.