1st Edition

Women Comedians in the Digital Age Media Work and Critical Reputations After Trump

By Alex Symons Copyright 2023
    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a thorough examination of digital work by women comedians in the US, exploring their use of digital media to perform jokes, engage with fans, remake their reputations, and become political activists. This book argues that despite its many adverse effects, digital work is changing comedy, empowering women to create new comic forms and negotiate the contentious political climate incited by former President Donald. J. Trump.

    Chapters are focused on video podcasting, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and the streaming platform Netflix – each containing informative case studies on significant women comedians who use them, including Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Leslie Jones, Mindy Kaling, Colleen Ballinger, Lilly Singh, Ms. Pat, Whitney Cummings, Issa Rae, and others. To understand their strategies, this book examines the popularity of their digital content, their career outcomes in television and film, as well as the ups and downs of their critical reputations in magazines, newspapers, the trade press, and with their participatory audiences online.

    This insightful and timely work will appeal to scholars researching and teaching in the areas of media studies, digital communication, gender studies, and performance.

    1. Advantages and Adverse Effects: How Digital Work Empowers Women Comedians in Trump’s America  2. Women Comedians’ Video Podcasting on YouTube: How Complex Authenticity Cultivates Fans  3. Women Comedians Trapped on TikTok: The Opportunities and Limitations of Cringey, Intersectional Comedy  4. Witty Women on Twitter: Collaborative Reputation Making, Anti-Fandom, and Harnessing the Trolls  5.Conformity with Comic Subversion: How Women Comedians Shape their Reputations using Instagram  6.Women Comedians’ Working Practices on YouTube: The Sometimes-Difficult Transition to Television  7. Netflix’s Calculated Risks in Comedy: Unlikely Women’s First Stand-up Specials  8. Trump’s War with Women Satirists on Television: How Carnivalesque Comedy Generates Digital Redistribution  9. Participatory Audiences in Trump’s Cancel Culture: How Women Comedian-Activists Survive and Earn Prestige  10. Conclusions


    Alex Symons is Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at LIM College, New York City.

    "Women Comedians in the Digital Age provides a fascinating, detailed, and nuanced look at the ways in which women comedians leverage work in digital media to build their careers.

    Following a rich introductory chapter on the advantages and disadvantages of digital media work for women comedians, the book explores how, and to what ends, women comedians use various media.

    Women Comedians in the Digital Age is a compelling, informative, and highly readable study that will appeal to anyone interested in comedy, media (especially media labour), the cultivation of celebrity, and even professional development and advancement under neoliberalism. With respect to Celebrity Studies specifically, the book makes a significant contribution by detailing the new opportunities digital media have created for the pursuit of comedic fame – as well as the incredible labour involved, and tenuous benefits accrued."

    -- Kirsten Leng, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst