Parents Archives - GOLD Comedy

Black Lives Matter

I founded GOLD Comedy to help make sure that girls get taken seriously. Some people say our purpose is “empowering” teen girls, but there’s more to it.


Girls already have their own power. It’s on everyone else to respect that. 


So really it’s more about (let’s call it) “de-empowering” everyone else. That’s the kind of cultural and structural change I’m really talking about.  That kind of change needs to happen in the comedy world, which—not coincidentally, like the world-world—is (despite obvious progress) still structured from the ground up to privilege and promote straight cis white men. 


That kind of change requires more than just—for one thing—not telling (or sharing) racist jokes. (Though that’s obviously imperative.) It means telling (and sharing) anti-racist jokes, especially if you’re white. It means not just opening doors for comics of color and everyone else outside what’s still the norm. It means breaking them down and building new ones.


Comedy—as content and business—is too often a tool for normalizing, perpetuating, and promoting violence, racism, and racist violence. But the reason we’re here is that comedy can also be a force for good, even stronger than a balm or a break. (“The best medicine” is a cure for COVID-19.)


Comedy, handled right, provokes and demands new ways of thinking, helps shift the standards of what’s acceptable (and what’s not). Comedy (and comics) (especially white comics) (and white industry gatekeepers) really can do their part to help drive—both slowly and as seismically as we’re seeing right now—the kind of structure and culture change required to ensure that black lives matter.  


This is almost literally the least we can do, but it is important to follow and share the anti-racist work of comedians of both color and of, shall we say, pallor. A teeny tiny sampling of some who may not yet be on your radar: Ted Alexandro, Kerry Coddett, Sarah Cooper, Ayo Edebiri, Negin Farsad, Jena Friedman, Ziwe Fumodoh, Akilah Hughes, Dwayne Kennedy, Leighann Lord, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Jeff Simmermon, Elsa Eli Waithe, WellRED Comedy (Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, Drew Morgan), Kristina Wong. (Tag @goldcomedy on Instagram or Twitter with other recommendations!)


Also, I recommend following and supporting Teens4Equality. It’s the group that organized Nashville’s recent15,000-person #BLM in five days, founded by six teen girls. Told you they had power. 

7 reasons why comedy needs more girls

We need more women in comedy.

The more women do comedy, the more women define comedy.

And “more women in comedy starts with more girls in comedy,” as tweet-noted by GOLD fan/fam Daniel Radosh, senior writer/producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (and formerly of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).

What’s the rush?

Change is happening in comedy RIGHT NOW, and you can help it happen faster.

Where we are: Dudes still dominate comedy, both onstage and behind the scenes. Comedy bookers are STILL weird about booking women, with female comedians STILL being told (directly or otherwise) that sorry, there’s “already a woman” in a given show. Female comedians in the trenches still get less stage time than their male counterparts. And! Only one female comedian—Amy Schumer—has ever made it onto Forbes’s highest-paid comedians list; that took until two thousand freaking sixteen. And no woman has made it since. This is why “it’s a terrible time” for women in comedy, according to none other than Tina Fey. As she told Town and Country, “If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.’”

As New York Magazine’s (and Good One podcast’s) Jesse David Fox noted: “The pool of stand-ups networks can draw from is largely based on already-established comics, meaning previous bias factors in, and it can be difficult for up-and-coming talent—especially women—to get noticed in the first place. The point being there need to be more female comedians progressing through the stand-up stages, and that will take time.” (So YOU! Start now!)

Where we’re going: “The emergence of new female voices over the past five years has brought us to a point where the importance of women in American comedy cannot be glossed over,” Yael Kohen writes, “and there is no going back.”

BOOM. Why? Because, Kohen notes, today we have:

  • Demand for points of view beyond those of white men.
  • The growth and dominance of niche audiences.
  • The power of social media to LIKE (or NOT)
  • YouTube, podcasts, etc. that enable creators to skip the middleMAN

“Women have been thriving in these alternative channels for years, and now that the alternative is the norm, female comedians are especially prepared to take advantage of a new climate,” Kohen writes. “Female comedians have always been ahead of their time; now, at last, their time is catching up to them.”

AWESOME! But why comedy?

We need more women in many professions, such as president of the United States, and Ghostbuster. But bottom line, comedy matters. So there are at least 7 reasons why women—starting with you!—matter to comedy.

Comedy is power.

When you tell jokes, you are in charge. You’ve got the mic, the spotlight, the punch. You can tell your story any way you want. That’s power. More women should have that. (More women—and people—of all colors and shapes and lifestyle choices should have that.) More women in comedy would mean that the default setting for FUNNY—and all the power and perks that come with it—would, and could, no longer be DUDE.

Women are a gender, not a genre.

Imagine this: You arrive to do a standup show. You find out you’re the only woman in the lineup. To introduce you, the emcee says: “And now we’ve got a laaady coming to the stage!”

Then you have a big job. A dude comic just has to spend the next eight minutes proving that he is funny. YOU you have to spend the next eight minutes proving that WOMEN are funny.

This is also why Aparna Nancherla says “‘What’s it like to be a woman in comedy?’ 1% jokes and 99% answering this question.”

More women in comedy would mean that each individual woman does not have to represent her entire gender, which no woman (or man, or person) can do anyway. More women in comedy would mean that people would finally stop talking about two kinds of comedy: comedy, and “women’s comedy.” Or two kinds of comics: comedians, and, God help us, comediennes. It’s numbers. We need enough women in comedy so that we’re no longer DIFFERENT, or INTERESTING. We’re just comics.

Comedy is business.

Comedy is work. It might be fun, and even funny, but—like ditch digger and yogapreneur—it’s a job.

So if you get treated differently from men when you do your job, that’s uncool, at best. Illegal, at worst. (You may also be aware that comedy also has a serious sexual harassment problem.) As with any other business, there’s individualized and institutionalized sexism (and other -isms and -phobias) that keep women (and others) down, sidelined, or out.

That’s bad for individual comics, and for business. Setting aside the discrimination and harassment, more women in comedy means more jokes! More jokes about more things! More jokes about more things from more than only 50% of the population! And more jokes means more laughs, which means more dollars. People should do more math.

Take it from movies: Among the 25 top-grossing movies 2006 to 2015, those about women “earned $45.5 million more than movies about men,” Mic reported, noting that 97 of those 133 movies are about men. “Only 36 are about women—the people who are the bigger box office draw. That’s not just poor representation, it’s also bad business.”

Or television! James Poniewozik on Why diverse TV is better TV: “Audiences for everything are smaller now, which means networks aren’t programming each show for an imagined audience of tens of millions of white people. On top of that, there are younger viewers for whom diversity—racial, religious, sexual—is their world. That audience wants authenticity; advertisers want that audience.”

More women in comedy makes everyone funnier.

Comedy, like almost anything else, is better with more voices.

And comedy especially benefits from more outsider voices. “Just as women have emerged as the leaders of the nascent [#resist] movement, so are women behind some of the sharpest political satire of the moment,” wrote Laura Zarum in Flavorwire. “Not because we’re inherently superior to men but because it’s easier to punch up when you’re already one rung down.”

That rising tide lifts all boats—even S.S. Straight White Dude. The magnificent Cameron Esposito breaks it down. “If you are a straight, white, 22-year-old dude and you do stand up comedy, there are a lot of you. So if you put a woman who is black and 35 in between two straight, white, 22-year-old dudes, those dudes look more interesting. They get to be a counterpoint, and that’s something that straight, white men rarely get to experience. Not only were the people that had historically less representation benefitting from being around more diversity, but the people who were in the majority were too.” (Extra credit: read this.)

Comedy has something to say.

Comedians are “today’s public intellectuals,” as The Atlantic put it. “People look to Amy Schumer and her fellow jokers not just to make fun of the world, but to make sense of it. And maybe even to help fix it.” (According to Salon, we also expect comedians, in the face of public tragedy, to “comfort us.”)

In a different Atlantic article, Megan Garber observes that much high-profile comedy today is “distinguished by the fact that it isn’t content simply to elicit laughter. It has an ethic and a vision, and strives to convince its audience of the rightness of that vision. Comedy that argues and insinuates and in general has Something to Say about the world.”

And if more minds could be opened to more ideas from more people who don’t necessarily look like them, we’d all be better for it. We’re talking to you, late night comedy. Sam Bee is lonely out there.

Funny women open people’s minds (including women’s).

If every single personal ad ever is any guide, we are all looking for a partner with a “sense of humor.” But science breaks that down a bit: “Women want men who will tell jokes; men want women who will laugh at theirs.”

In that same article (again with The Atlantic!), Olga Khazan writes: “The way men and women laugh and joke has been so different for so long that it’s hardened into a stark, oppressive social norm. Norm violators get punished, and often, that means funny women are punished, too. These biases have a chilling effect on women. The idea that women aren’t supposed to make jokes can trigger stereotype threat, a phenomenon in which simply telling someone that their ‘group’ tends to be bad at something hinders that individual’s performance. Told that their humor isn’t wanted, many women don’t bother.”

But it is wanted! Comedy: support and promote women, all kinds of women, and more women will “bother,” and more people will get used to it, and more people will watch more of your shows, and more people will PAY TO watch more of your shows.

More women in comedy means more women in comedy.

White dudes who try standup or improv invite their friends to their shows. Their friends are, perhaps, mostly white dudes. When white dudes in the audience see funny white dudes on stage, audience white dudes go, “I could do that.” Then those white dudes try standup or improv and INVITE THEIR FRIENDS. And: THE CYCLE CONTINUES.

Here’s the flip side. “Women are limited in our imagination by the things that we have seen women do,” says Cameron Esposito. “So if you just go to a room and you watch other women tell jokes, there is something that switches in your mind where then you realize that you can tell jokes. We also don’t see ourselves as presidents because we never have female presidents.”

Comedy needs more women—and more everyone—so that more everyone will get into comedy.

So what do we do?

Get more women into comedy.

People with power in comedy should work hard to book women, hire women, represent women, and mentor women. They’re there.

Don’t just say “no one sent me any packets from women.” At this point, that’s just hacky. Just ask Trevor Noah. In a conversation with Lupita Nyong’o and the New York Times about hiring his writing staff, he said:

I said, “I want more diversity.” They said, “But this is what we’re getting.” So I went to all the young comedians I knew—black, Hispanic, female, whatever—and I said, “Are you interested?” And they all said: “Are you crazy? Of course, I’m interested.” So I asked, “Why didn’t you audition?” And they said, “We didn’t know about it.” But they told me they’d sent it out to all the agents and managers. And they all went: “Oh, that’s where you made the mistake. We can’t get agents or managers.” We can say we want diversity, but there’s this little roadblock that no one tells you about.

Agents and managers: go out of your way to agent and represent women. (And all sorts of people outside the mainstream.) That’d be a start.

GOLD likes to start even earlier by telling teen girls that it’s good to be funny. That you are already funnier than you think. GIRLS: Being funny means being exactly who they are already, just with a few more punchlines. Comedy is not what dudes do and girls laugh at. Comedy is YOURS. Whether you want to be standup funny, or YouTube funny, or improv funny, or Instagram funny, or funnier stump speech for class president funny, comedy is power, and that power is YOURS.

Read Lynn’s bio here.

5 ways the internet has transformed comedy

Watch this clip! Download this podcast! HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN the latest episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?!? Thanks to the internet, comedy is EVERYWHERE—and it’s pretty much always screaming at you to take your funny vitamins. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, for both comedy and comedians? The answer: IT DEPENDS, OBVIOUSLY. Here are five key changes, according to me.

1. The internet makes performing easy.

In the immortal words of Aparna Nancherla: “Best part of internet: everyone has a voice. Worst part of internet: everyone has a voice.” In a comedy context, that means that the internet can help budding comedians—especially those in club-starved towns, or too young for THAT LIFESTYLE—find an audience, or help anyone with a YouTube account think they can become an overnight comedy sensation.

2. 140 characters is the soul of wit.

Or is it? Some, like Peter Serafinowicz, laud platforms like Twitter for forcing them to hone their one-line game. Others (see Martin Trickey) think this makes an audience too hard to work with the online audience craves instant gratification, and can only sometimes get it, leading to instant approval or dismissal of a performance.

3. It’s there…FOREVER.

The ability to replay and rewatch has led to increased scrutiny. That’s good, when it helps hold comedians like Tosh, Bill Maher, etc. accountable for inappropriate jokes. But it also opens up every last detail of a set for criticism. Internet hecklers don’t leave when the show’s over.

4. It makes for a bigger farm team.

Not every attempt to convert internet comedy to mainstream works (think Netflix specials like Haters Back Off). But comedians like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer originally started out on a web series. That’s where HBO’s Insecure came from, too. The Internet might not make everyone a star, but it is fertile new ground for talent.

5. It opens virtual doors.

The internet is high on bias, but also pretty low on red tape. This means that folks who normally come up against barriers to entry in comedy (sexism and racism, say!) can produce and share their own work, set their own terms, and build their own audiences. Best part of internet: everyone has a voice!

Tell us what YOU think!Click To Tweet

GILLIAN ROONEY is a teenage comedian and writer based in Connecticut and an alum of GOLD Comedy’s pilot workshop series.

What’s your sense of humor?

Just like a fingerprint, no two people have the exact same sense of humor. Humor is a very fluid and flexible personality trait that is constantly changing and adapting to new life experiences. What one person finds hilarious might make someone else incredibly uncomfortable. You know this if you’ve ever seen George W. Bush try to give a neck massage.

This quiz is designed to see which of the 6 main styles of humor—we’ll call them observational, satire, deadpan, dark, surreal, and slapstick—tickles your funny bone. It certainly doesn’t mean that this is the only kind of humor that works. (And it also doesn’t mean that there are only 6 styles of humor!) But it might give you a bit of a clue about what your own comedy style might be, which is can be a key element of your comedy persona. At very least,  it might point you in the direction of some awesome new comedians, movies, and shows to check out.

1. What’s your favorite punchline?

2. Favorite comedian?

3. What’s the deal with…?

4. Favorite SNL sketch?

5. What do you do to lighten a mood?

Find your funny: What kind of humor are you?
Surreal (absurdism)

Surreal humor (also known as absurdist humor) is a form of humor predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical. Constructions of surreal humor tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, non-sequiturs, irrational or absurd situations and expressions of nonsense. Comedians we bet you’ll like: Maria Bamford, Monty Python, Dan Harmon, Tim & Eric, Steven Wright, Coen Brothers. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Big Lebowski, The Eric Andre Show, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Spaceballs, The Good Place, Community.
Dark (black comedy)

Dark comedy (or black comedy) is a comic style that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo. This type of humor often includes topics of violence, discrimination, disease, sexuality, religion and barbarism. Comedians we bet you’ll like: Sarah Silverman, Jim Norton, Anthony Jeselnik, Richard Pryor, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker & Matt Stone. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: South Park, Four Lions, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rick and Morty, Inglorious Basterds.

In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. This style of humor is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society. Comedians we bet you’ll like: Gilda Radner, Conan O’Brien, Amy Sedaris, Dave Chappelle, W. Kamau Bell, Sarah Silverman, Samantha Bee. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: SNL, Blazing Saddles, The Daily Show, 30 Rock, Wet Hot American Summer, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Observational comedy is a form of humor based on the commonplace aspects of everyday life. It is one of the main types of humor in stand-up comedy. In an observational comedy act the comedian "makes an observation about something from the backwaters of life, an everyday phenomenon that is rarely noticed or discussed." Comedians we bet you’ll like: Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., Joan Rivers, Kevin Hart, John Mulaney, Ali Wong, Phoebe Robinson. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: Get Out, Brooklyn 99, Seinfeld, Arrested Development, Bridesmaids, Master of None.
Deadpan (dry)

Deadpan (or dry humor) describes the deliberate display of a lack of or no emotion, commonly as a form of comedic delivery to contrast with the ridiculousness of the subject matter. The delivery is meant to be blunt, sarcastic, laconic, or apparently unintentional. Comedians we bet you’ll like: Tig Notaro, Steven Wright, Mindy Kaling, Mitch Hedberg, Aubrey Plaza, Bob Newhart. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: Portlandia, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Documentary Now!, In Bruges.
Slapstick (physical)

Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy. Comedians we bet you’ll like: Melissa McCarthy, Buster Keaton, Jim Carrey, Lucille Ball, The Three Stooges, Martin Short, Molly Shannon. Shows and movies we bet you’ll like: Laverne and Shirley, Naked Gun, Airplane, Family Guy, There’s Something About Mary, Modern Family.

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CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

5 ways to discover your comedy persona: your unique, authentic comedic voice

They say it takes a comedian ten years to develop their comedy persona. But with the head start we’ll give you here, you can totally nail it in like eight. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go! (My comedy persona is positive, high-energy, impatient.)

So first let’s talk about what a comedy persona is. Then we’ll talk about how to identify yours—and what to do once you have.

What’s a persona?

First, here’s what it’s not. For our purposes, it’s not a “character.” Some comedians do deliberately develop fictional identities or caricatures that may or may not align with their off-stage personalities—like super-ranty Lewis Black, who is much more of a marshmallow in real life, or María Elena Velasco-Fragoso, early deliberately-dim Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, or Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, who do stand-up as their Broad City characters.

If that comes naturally to you, great (and consider exploring sketch comedy and/or being YouTube-funny). But generally, that’s an advanced move because it’s actually very challenging to sustain. And what we want to get at here, first, is authenticity.

So a persona is not a character, it’s your character. It comes from your personality, your take, your attitude, your bearing, your point of view, your general lens on life.

Your persona is what makes your jokes your jokes. Anyone can write a joke about parents or dogs vs. cats or homework or taxes or gentrification or doughnuts. But only you can write a joke about your unique take on those topics.

Example: Take this joke from Lauren Lapkus. You can get a sense of her persona without seeing or hearing her—just by reading these 18 words:

“I believe that each person can make a difference. But it’s so slight that there’s basically no point.”

From this (superb) joke, we can surmise that her persona is perhaps cynical, maybe glass-half-empty—at any rate, not the Pollyanna peppiest.

Of course, neither Lauren nor you are just one thing all the time. In real life, you shift somewhat according to context and mood. Your industry-standard five minute comedy set—and your persona in general—will not be all one-note either. Not every joke will be angry, not every joke will be bubbly. You can have one pretty constant persona in one set, but lots of different attitudes and emotions can come from it.


Where do you find your persona?

To find your authentic comedy persona, we are going to start with your original factory settings.

#SPOILER: Your persona is who you already are. At least that’s where it starts.


Why is this not boring? Because, nerds, we get to do some MATH! Because when you do comedy, you are not acting, but you are performing. That means your persona isn’t you just wisecracking at your locker or water cooler or Instagram, it’s you standing on stage with a mic (and, on a good day, a crowd!). So your performance persona is a slightly exaggerated version of you. Here’s the equation:  


And why is it great news? Well, let’s say you’re reading this thinking: “But I don’t haaaave a ‘persona’! I’m boooooring.” Guess what? Are you ready? THAT’S YOUR PERSONA.

I’m not saying you’re boring. I’m just saying you don’t have to work that hard, or go into analysis, to know what the kernel of your persona is. Even if it’s something you think might be negative or unappealing about you, FINE! That’s FUNNY! Don’t apologize for it or try to hide or fix it; instead, double down. Embrace it and take control of it and let that flag FLY. Own it. PWN it. That’s how BORING can become INTERESTING, say, or being a loner can be loveable, or being a downer can crack people UP.

OK then! What is your persona?

So let’s see. Are you cynical? Sarcastic? Shy? Super-trusting? Lazy? Nervous about everything? ANGRY ABOUT EVERYTHING? Shy? Puppy-dog positive? Generally just confused? Scornful? Tightly wound? Awkward? A rebel or rule breaker? The eternal teacher’s pet? An insider? An outsider? An outsider who only looks like an insider? A nerd? Also a geek?

Your goal here is to find ONE WORD that describes your persona. Maybe two words, maximum three, if one of them is a really short word.

If you’re not sure yet, start by answering these questions. Do them sort of quick. Don’t overthink. NOTE: If you can’t help but overthink, then perhaps OVERTHINKER is your persona!

1) What would be your high school yearbook superlative? As in “Most likely to…”.

2) Which one are you: Winner, or (and I say this with love) loser?

3) Fill in the blanks:

1. “Dear Diary, I wish I were less/more [BLANK].”

2. “Dear Diary, The thing I love/hate most about myself is [BLANK].”

4) If you were one of these comedians/comic performers, which one would you be? Not which one do you WANT to be, or which one do you most LOOK like—which one’s personality is most like yours? Don’t overthink it!

1. Kate McKinnon

2. Gina Rodriguez

3. Leslie Jones

4. Mindy Kaling

5. Joan Rivers

6. Lucille Ball

7. Ali Wong

8. Issa Rae

9. Melissa McCarthy

10. Sarah Silverman



5) Locate yourself on our Axis of Attitude. Are you generally positive in your attitude, calm in your presentation? Highly critical and super spazzy? Literally point to the screen to the spot on this image where you imagine yourself.


OK! You should start to see some consistency emerge. If you don’t, your persona is “All over the place!” or at least “indecisive.” Voila.

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO. Now that you’ve chosen a word or two that capture your persona, you know that as you write and perform material, it should generally come from that place. Not rigidly or across the board, as we said above. Not every joke needs to be crafted as sarcasm, not everything you say has to come out of the mouth of a rebel or teacher’s pet. But do think of it as a lightly tinted lens that colors your jokes, or at least your overall point of view.

So, wearing that pretend lens like a spiffy monocle, NOW you’re ready to write some jokes or longer bits —or even to practice refining that persona on stage. Or, if your persona is CAUTIOUS, start with some exercises to get you going.

Did you discover your comedy persona? Even if it’s not OVERSHARER, let us know! Tweet @goldcmdy!

Read Lynn’s bio here.

Mini Q&A with Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg is the host of NPR’s and WNYC’s new weekly trivia, puzzle, and game show Ask Me Another. She recently performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and her book debut memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy is available everywhere. Check her out this summer at Brooklyn’s Union Hall!

Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

What are you my mother?

Describe your worst gig.

It was my first paid road gig – at a strip club that was dark on Mondays (like Broadway) so the owner didn’t advertise the show and no one came. To try to save it, he called the strippers and they showed up with their boyfriends and friends. I died pretty hard on that stage, with that audience. But I did get $20.

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young (female/LGBTQI) comedian?

Just. Keep. Going.

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

What is this 2004? We’re done with that. Proven it a 1000 times over so step aside and let me do my job, you go back to your shitty life/cave.

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?


Best comedy advice you ever got?

Wash your hands. Ha. But seriously – meet you audience after the show, shake their hands, but then wash your hands.

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

“Your act should be more angry.”

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?

Very lucrative.

Single word that always cracks you up?

Puke. Sorry. But yup. I’m as low brow as the next person.

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian? If so, who, why, how?

Sigh, my mom, my brother. And then Carol Burnett.

For standups: what advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual spots?

It’s really a game of perseverance and having a consistently good set.

Feelings about the word “comedienne”?

I wrote an entire chapter in my book about how much I hate it, but in short, we play the same drunk crowds, we deal with the same bookers. I’m a comic, just like you.

Ophira Eisenberg is a Canadian comic, writer, and actress from Calgary, now living in New York City. When she’s not hosting her weekly NPR show, Ask Me Another, you can find her at pretty much any club around New York City, and at exclusive venues and bars when she tours on the road. Her tour schedule can be found here.

Twitter: @OphiraE

Facebook: Ophira Eisenberg

CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

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Best college campuses for women in comedy

So you’re deciding where to go to college. Sure, you did pretty well on your SATs. Your application is full of juicy extracurriculars (like the GOLD ComedyTM workshop!) You even got that coveted recommendation letter from Mr. Baldwin, the hip young English professor who loves edgy backwards chair sitting. Now you just need to figure out which schools to apply to.

And you’re smart. You’ve got your priorities straight. You know that the most important thing in your college decision making process isn’t the education, the location, or even the food. It’s the comedy scene. And not just for anyone: for you. Choosing a school is like choosing a romantic partner: you’re probably going to be stuck with them for about four years, so they better make you laugh. And have a good credit score.

So we made you this list! It’s not exhaustive, which is exciting. So many schools now have thriving comedy scenes where women and diversity reign supreme. Here are just some of the best.

Brown University

Oh, Brown–a school that makes headlines for being more liberal than Bernie Sanders at a San Francisco hemp convention. Unsurprisingly, Brown has been taking some huge steps towards diversifying the members of its comedy scene. In 2015, the school welcomed its first all-female group in the form of “Skorts,” a musical sketch comedy troupe. (We’d love to show you some of their stuff, but an Internet search for “brown skorts” took us to the JCPenney homepage.)


Boasting three improv troupes (Starla and Sons, Improvidence and Comic Sans), two sketch comedy groups (Out of Bounds and Skorts), and Brown Stand Up Comics, Brown has no shortage of options. If performance isn’t your jam., Brown also has two written humor publications, the Brown Noser and the Brown Jug

Columbia College

Located in the heart of Windy City and improv Mecca Chicago, Columbia College has produced comedy juggernauts like Aidy Bryant, Lena Waithe, and even the legendary Phyllis Diller!

Columbia College Comedy

In addition to having a number of awesome improv troupes where women make up a large portion of the group, the school is home to one of the flagship “Comedy Studies” programs that actually allows students to pursue a degree in funny business! It also doesn’t hurt that one of their improv troupes, Cat Booty, won this year’s College Improv Tournament.

Emerson College

Tucked away in the heart of downtown Boston, Emerson College pumps out more comedians than the Wayans family: names like Bill Burr, David Cross, Laura Kightlinger, Jay Leno, Andrea Martin, Tess Rafferty, Iliza Shlesinger, Steven Wright, and the late, beloved Harris Wittels.


As of 2015, Emerson offers a killer BFA program in Comedic Arts that is sure to produce some comedy heavyweights down the line. Apart from the academic opportunities, Emerson is home to numerous other groups including SWOMO, Inside Jokes, Stroopwafel, This is Pathetic, Police Geese, and more.

University of Pennsylvania

Sure, Ben Franklin was a genius. But could he deliver a 1-minute monologue with enough material for a full 20-minute set? Probably not.


That’s where Penn’s comedy scene comes in. Without A Net is currently Penn’s flagship improv troupe but there’s an emerging women’s comedy scene that’s got us super excited. The all-women sketch group Bloomers now hosts the annual LaughtHERfest, an awesome day-long program that celebrates women in comedy. The festival has hosted other awesome college troupes like Columbia, Brown, and even big names likes Vanessa Bayer, Michelle Wolf, and our very own Lynn Harris!


New York is often cited as the standup capital of the world. So of course it stands to reason that New York’s own University has a killer comedy scene. Groups like Dangerbox and Hammerkatz have produced some major talent like Rachel Bloom, Donald Glover, and Fran Gillespie.

Bechdel Test

But NYU’s newest troupe, Bechdel Test, is paving the way for a women’s scene to develop. Founder of the group and Tisch student Meghan Sullivan told the NYU News that, “There is a stigma around female jokes that they have to be one thing or another. Well, they do not.” We couldn’t agree with you more, Meghan.


Growing up in nearby Jacksonville, Florida, I knew Savannah, Georgia was famous for two things: ghosts and peaches. Maybe even a few ghost peaches. Who knows. Never in my life did I think Savannah would be known for its college improv scene. But SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) proved me wrong.

Do Savannah

The school was home to 6Chix, a groundbreaking group in the college improv scene. In 2015, 6Chix entered the College Improv Tournament as the first-ever all women group. 6Chix advanced to the finals that year and forever changed the gender landscape of CIT.

Wellesley College

Granted, Wellesley has a bit of a head start in the feminist department (being an all- women’s school and all). But that certainly doesn’t diminish the amazing and thriving comedy scene the women of Wellesley have created. Dead Serious (pictured below rocking some serious denim) has been bringing the laughs to Wellesley for almost two decades.

Dead Serious

Located in Massachusetts, Wellesley has produced some pretty great, and often funny, women including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Nora Ephron. Perhaps our next Secretary of State will be one of the jean-clad fashionistas above.

As a three-time participant in the College Improv Tournament, I can confidently say that there’s room for improvement in the female college comedy scene. A majority of the troupes that perform at the Tournament are mostly, if not all men. In my experience, women in college are MUCH more wary of trying improv or standup than men, citing shyness or “not being funny enough.” Well they’re wrong! While being shy is totally normal and fine, good comedy is all about being yourself and knowing that your genuine self can be funny. And there’s no better time to find your yourself than in your college years!

Looking for a chance to connect with other funny women in your area? Check out these festivals: Boston’s Women in Comedy Festival, Portland’s All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival, the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, and Austin’s Ladies Are Funny Festival.

CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

How to make your PowerPoint funnier

When it comes to putting people to sleep, not even Ambien can rival the prowess of the PowerPoint. Invented in 1990 by technology and sleep wizard Bill Gates, the PowerPoint has been sedating students, coworkers, and even our loved ones for almost three decades. My grandmother went to a timeshare presentation in April and STILL hasn’t woken up.

An obvious solution: make it funny. A Harvard Business School study confirms that humor—when it works—makes people listen more closely and see you as confident and competent.

At work and in general—”men are more free to bomb,” says comedian Allison Goldberg, who works with Jen Jamula at GoldJam Creative to bring comedy and creativity into workplaces. “Men are just given a lot more leeway for everything. A guy bombs and people forget it, a woman does and people don’t.”

But DO NOT FEAR. The stakes may feel high, but remember: the bar is low. This is your sales meeting, not 2 Dope Queens. “The crowd is not expecting to laugh their asses off,” says Goldberg. Keep in mind that every workplace environment is different. It’s crucial to know your audience and to have a grasp on what they will find both appropriate and funny. 

Here are our tips for sprinkling your PowerPoint with comedy gold.

1. Unexpected animations

If you took an Intro to Computers class in middle school, you probably learned how to use Animations. They allow text, words, and pictures to have a little bit of motion. And alongside language and sound, motion is a crucial tenet of any comedy. Which is why pet rocks were never that funny.

This example below shows how an animation can spice up an otherwise boring presentation about Shia LaBeouf’s mug.

The Animations tool bar is located on the main toolbar between Transitions and Slideshow. You can give your animations a sudden entrance, an exaggerated emphasis, or even a sudden exit for a quick laugh.

2. Silly acronyms

This is one of my all-time favorite bits. There are a few ways to go about this joke. Some options include the nonsense acronym, the forced acronym, or the impossible to remember acronym. Check out these various examples about how to organize your computer’s desktop.

A nonsense acronym creates an acronym that is wholly unhelpful in completing the task.

The forced acronym uses a lot of roundabout letters to achieve its purpose.

And finally, there’s the impossible-to-remember acronym. This acronym actually contains the necessary information but assumes that the audience can remember many jumbled letters.

This particular joke is especially effective if you attempt to pronounce the acronym in your presentation. It might even be fun to get your audience to try and pronounce it too!

3. Non-sequitur statistics

Paul Rudd perfected this joke in the hit film Anchorman. When describing his cologne “Sex Panther” and its ability to pick up women, Rudd’s character repeatedly cites that “60% of the time, it works every time.” This joke can easily be inserted into any PowerPoint that involves quantifiable statistics.

Take this example joke slide that would be perfect for anyone in the kayaking business. (This slide is great because it uses the ‘Rule of Three:’ two real statistics and one silly one.)

This joke always reminds me of the time my ex-boyfriend said he only “50% cheated on me,” which was his way of saying that he had made out with another guy.

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4. Punchline-set up slides

What better way to be funny in a PowerPoint than setting yourself up for a killer punchline? These kinds of jokes are used all the time on Late Night TV shows and on famous segments like SNL’s Weekend Update. Personally, I find these kinds of jokes are most effective when the setup is said verbally (as opposed to on a slide) and the punchline is a simple image or statement on the next slide.

Here’s an example:

In your speech, create the set-up by saying something in the form of a question. If your presentation were about how to improve the quality of living in your Quebec neighborhood, you’d say something along the lines of, “So how do we reduce widespread noise pollution?”

After an appropriate “beat,” or comedic moment of silence, the punchline slide would be revealed:

Of course, this example takes a strong stance on Canadian rock band Nickelback and may not be appropriate for a pitch with . But hopefully it can inspire you to create the perfect punchline that works for your presentation!

5. Random ‘palate cleanser’ slide

Is your presentation droning on and on? Or perhaps you’re giving a presentation about a heavier, more serious topic. Maybe it’s time for a palate cleanser. These random slides can range from silly animals photos, to memes, or even an embarrassing photo from your childhood.

During a heavy presentation about sexism and violence against women in media, feminist author and friend of GOLD Comedy Jenn Pozner once employed a palate cleanser by including a slide with “some baby kittens hanging from a few pairs of underpants on a clothesline.” Mid-presentation, she exclaimed, “KITTENS! Deep breath. 1… 2… 3… OK, feel better? Good. Moving on.” This was a great way for Jenn to both make her audience feel more at ease and to add humor to a tense lecture.

Take this slide, as another example of a palate cleanser.

Needless to say, I went to my mom for my Halloween costume the next year.

6. End with a Q&A… for the audience

Most presentations conclude with a question and answer section where the audience asks the presenter about what they just heard. Before doing this, I recommend you flip the script and ask the audience questions about your presentation material.

This is a great time to call people out if you know them by name and/or have a relatively informal relationship with them. People loved being acknowledged during presentations and love being called out for not paying attention even more!

Offer candy or other small rewards to people that get questions right. This keeps people engaged and can be a great way to end your presentation!

Or your article about making funny PowerPoints!

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CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

19 female comedians who are about to be HUGE

There are so many female comedians who are CRUSHING IT right now. And as a result, we here at GOLD ComedyTM are crushing on them.

Comedy nerds and podcast junkies will know these women—and likely every word of their acts. But we want all of our GOLD readers to be able to say they knew about them before they were A-list household names. Now we just need to get them on the Forbes list of highest-paid comedians.

Huffington Post


“When a cat ignores you, you think “that’s on you.’ When a dog ignores you, you think “you saw into my dark soul.”

What you know her from

  • Pete Holmes’s HBO show Crashing
  • Has opened for John Oliver and Tig Notaro on tour
  • Former staff writer for Late Night With Seth Meyers
  • Hosts podcast Blue Woman Group with Jacqueline Novak

Why she’s on the cusp

Please just go read her Twitter. Variety named her one of the top comics to watch in 2016. She tours ALL THE DAMN TIME, so follow her. Her debut album Just Putting It Out There is hilarious and perfectly tackles all of our anxieties and discomforts.

Where you can follow her



“As you can tell by my haircut, I am a Thundercat—and also a giant lesbian.”

What you know her from

  • Her original Seeso series with wife Rhea Butcher Take My Wife
  • Several appearances on the late night circuit including Conan & Chelsea Lately
  • An awesome episode of Drunk History and BuzzFeed’s video series “Ask a Lesbian

Why she’s on the cusp

Between her Seeso series, constant touring, and her amazing support of other women in comedy, she’s sure to land a killer TV or movie deal any moment now. Or who knows, maybe she has and she’s keeping it secret.

Where you can follow her

Just For Laughs


“Feminism has made me hate both genders more, but equally, and that’s the important part.”

What you know her from

  • Her show Sorry About Last Night… with fellow badass Krystyna Hutchinson
  • Her anti-slut shaming podcast Guy We F****d also with Hutchinson
  • Her much-talked-about feature in HuffPost

Why she’s on the cusp

Using her awesome feminist powers, she has created a body of comedic work that not only acknowledges women’s sexuality, but encourages it. Her stand-up style is raunchy, delivery-heavy, and most of all fun to watch. She and Hutchinson are also scheduled to perform at the Just for Laughs Comedy Fest in Montreal this year!

Where you can follow her

Houston Whatever Fest


“I get so frustrated when people think I’m trying to look like Ellen Degeneres. It’s so frustrating because I’m trying so hard to look like Nick Carter.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

This radio darling has been making our ears laugh over the airwaves for a while now, but we think she’s got the charisma and the material for TV. Her own SiriusXM show The Check Spot is now a year old and we’re excited for her next steps.

Where you can follow her

Gina Brillon Comedy


“I have girlfriend who says ‘30’s the new 20.’ Really? What kind of math are you doing? Cause I don’t see any 20-year olds walking around going, ‘Oh my god, I’m 10.’“

What you know her from

  • Her comedy special Pacifically Speaking
  • Her appearances and collaborations with comedian Gabriel Iglesias
  • Her appearances on Chelsea Lately, The View, and Live at Gotham
  • (The GOLD Comedy advisory board!)

Why she’s on the cusp

She just signed a sweet deal with comedic actor and Paul Blart-look alike Kevin James to star in a new CBS show, Kevin Can Wait. Her stand-up style oozes confidence and all of her performances are incredibly polished.

Where you can follow her

Paste Magazine


“Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let’s face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Jen has a huge body of knockout comedic work.  Not to mention her book “I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself” just came out in paperback in April of this year. She’s hitting her stride and we can’t wait to catch her on her “The ‘All New Material, Girl’ Tour” this year.

Where you can follow her

Paste Magazine


“I feel like Citi Bikes come in pairs of bored couples. With the silver lining being that none of them are wearing helmets.”

What you know her from

  • Her critically acclaimed stand up special American C*nt
  • Her writing for the Late Show with David Letterman
  • Her field work for The Daily Show

Why she’s on the cusp

She’s a total go-getter. Her hard work and poignant feminist critique shine through her act and we’re totally eating it up. Also, her original web series about an engaged serial killer was actually assigned to me as homework… so if she’s already invading our classrooms, she might as well invade our TVs!

Where you can follow her

The AV Club


“There’s only about 7 or 8 genuinely good people in the whole world. Seven of them are hospice nurses and the other is Michelle Obama.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Her sweet voice and quirky elfish persona is a perfect fit with all of the new fun-loving comedies coming out. She’s the creator and host of the hugely successful Punderdome 3000 show in Brooklyn alongside her goofy dad Fred and her TED Talk is also in the process of becoming a fan favorite.

Where you can follow her



“Where are we? I mean it was like coming up here, intellectually I knew but spiritually it was still very open. It was kind of this process of ‘Okay, it’s a show coming up, expectations, who I could’ve been, right? Who I could be, right? The dichotomy of mother, father, always here, right? Divorce right? Duffle bag? Different stage, right? Endless shuffle, right? A kind of shuffle that becomes constantly replicated in the future.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Kate’s style is unbelievably original. It’s thoughtful, meditative, philosophical, and simultaneously  very fun. Her new Vimeo original series 555 is already getting attention from some very important eyes. In February, she and Early gave a meta-comedy performance on Jimmy Fallon that was lost on some of the audience. But us comedy geeks LOVED it.

Where you can follow her


“I believe that each person can make a difference, but it’s so slight that there’s basically no point.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

If the rest of the women on this list are “on the cusp,” then Lauren might be the first in line for the slide. She’s already been crushing it on her own cheekily titled podcast, With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus. She’s also found success at her UCB Franklin show Wildhorses.

Where you can follow her

The AV Club


“After he gets impeached, Trump is going to brag that he was the fastest president ever.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

In the comedy world, we sometimes refer to certain performers as a “comedian for comedians.” Megan Amram is definitely one of these people. Her wordplay and one-liners on Twitter are a true work of genius. Her absurdism style is super fresh and she’s killing it on the Trump stuff.

Where you can follow her

Chicago Reader


“It gets a little tricky because my mom is Irish Catholic and my dad is Irish Protestant. Very bad in white people land. For those of you who don’t understand what that means it’s kind of like saying my mom was raised believing in magic and my dad was raised blowing up magicians.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

She brings new life to some classic jokes and her set/material have only grown edgier since her Conan appearance. Not to mention she’s been knocking it out of the park with her live showsTo give you an idea, I saw her open at a show in Nashville recently and she got way more laughs than the headliner.

Where you can follow her

Comedy Works


“You know how when you break up with someone and they gain weight, and that makes you really happy? I bet that’s how England feels about us.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

What more can I say? That voice. That hair. She’s to die for! She was featured on Vulture’s list of “50 Comedians You Should Know in 2015” and her most recent tour for her debut hour-long special, MIchelle Wolf: So Brave, sold out across the country. Personally, I’m in love with her squeaky style and jump on tickets any time I see her name in the line-up.

Where you can follow her



“I have a very simple wedding band, because I’m anti-diamond. I saw this crazy documentary about these kids in Africa.… Just kidding, he’s broke.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Her sassy style and high energy delivery is helping her KILL it in the New York standup scene. Plus Comedy Central’s been showing her plenty of love and I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave her a show of her own. As long as she doesn’t name the show after her brother-in-law.

Where you can follow her

The Comics Comic


“Or my new favorite, Swamp Murders. It’s exactly what you think it is. You find a body in a swamp, you work your way back.”

What you know her from

  • Her Comedy Central half-hour special
  • Writing for the show we love Broad City
  • Her awesome Q&A with us! (GOLD Comedy)

Why she’s on the cusp

Besides being incredibly talented in writing, her stand-up style boasts a unique stately delivery and a keen sense of word choice. She’s been featured by a ton of stuff already and we’re excited for her and her husband’s new TruTV series, Inside Caucasia.

Where you can follow her



“The American population can be broken up into three main categories: there’s mostly wonderful people, haters, and Florida.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

A self-described social justice comedian, Negin has a stand-up routine that often revolves around her Muslim background. She uses humor to fight prejudice and bring understanding, especially in a contentious time in our country for Muslims. Her book How to Make White People Laugh has a permanent place on my coffee table and constantly makes me laugh on cue.

Where you can follow her

Jewish Ledger


[Describing her online dating profile]

“Finally I just put “as is.” Yeah, a real fixer upper. Hobbies include depression and making you guess why I’m angry.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Ophira tackles the tough stuff like advanced age motherhood, surviving cancer, and other topics most comedians wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. She’s also got an unusually soothing voice so it’s no surprise that she’s frequently featured on the radio. AND her new Brooklyn show Ophira and Adira has already drawn big names like David Cross, Lewis Black, and Uzo Aduba.

Where you can follow her



“So I met my boyfriend’s parents recently which stressed me out. Because he’s white, so his parents are white. Hate when that happens. Why can’t it just skip a generation?”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

She’s been bringing some serious truths about gender, race, and equality to the comedy scene for a while now. Her new podcast with Broad City’s Ilana Glazer is called Sooo Many White Guys, and honestly, we’re sold on the title alone. Plus, she thought the ending to Colin Firth’s Kingsman was as weird as I did.

Where you can follow her

Comedy Heights


“Everyone always says the same thing to my dad when they find out there are four girls in my family. They’re like, ‘Wow four girls! That’s gonna get expensive.” Which is true, because he has to pay for three weddings AND get all of my cats spayed. It’s gonna add up.”

What you know her from

Why she’s on the cusp

Her self-deprecating style is endearing, effective, and impressive considering she’s only 23. She’s got a certain honesty about her performance style that is very refreshing. She’s a true inspiration to us young comics.

Where you can follow her

Do you know any comics that you think will be huge soon? Tell us! Tweet @goldcmdy!

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CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith

9 best commencement speeches by comedians

Nothing says springtime like graduation! And nothing says graduation like long, cliché speeches about “following your dreams” and stale jokes about bad dining hall food.


But we here at GOLD prefer a commencement speech with a bit more flair. So before “Regalia” makes it into this year’s list of top baby names, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite commencement speeches ever given by comedians. Sorry, Steve Wozniak. Maybe Rutgers will call next year.

This list includes speeches given at a diverse group of schools including a few prestigious Ivy leagues, some southern gems, and even a high school in Lexington, Massachusetts (Lynn’s hometown. Also, Rachel Dratch’s!). So what do they all have in common? Every speech acknowledges that we comedians are never truly qualified to do anything, let alone give a solemn commencement address. Hell, I still have trouble remembering whether the word “address” has two D’s or one. They both look right to me.

Ranked in no particular order, here are some of the wittiest speeches given at some of the weightiest ceremonies:

1. Maya Rudolph – Tulane University, 2015

Hilarious, versatile, and fresh, Maya Rudolph never disappoints. She certainly didn’t disappoint during her 2015 speech to the seniors of Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. In her address, she covers her dreams of being on SNL, a roast-like description of herself as a hippie college student, and her identity crisis as a closeted thespian.

“I didn’t know who I was or what I was going to do with my life when I finished college. I wasn’t any clearer about my direction than the day I graduated high school. I wore Birkenstocks and smelled like a patchouli fart.”

This speech is particularly appealing to us comedy nerds as Rudolph invokes the crucial improv concept of “Yes, And.” Not to mention her passionate “interpretation” of the National Anthem.

Check out the speech here:

2. Jon Stewart – College of William and Mary, 2004

At the height of his show’s popularity, Daily Show host and comedy god Jon Stewart took a break from his busy schedule to give a gut-busting and rather cynical warning to William and Mary’s graduating class of 2004.

Early in his speech, Stewart apologizes on behalf of his entire generation for “breaking the world.”

“I know some of you are nostalgic today and filled with excitement and perhaps uncertainty at what the future holds. I know six of you are trying to figure out how to make a bong out of your caps.”

Check out the speech here:

3. Stephen Colbert – University of Virginia, 2013

Former compadre and counterpoint to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert is a top dog when it comes to political satire.

Though Colbert has imparted much graduation wisdom over the years, no speech compares to his 2013 speech to the Hoos of UVA. Colbert cleverly muses on secret societies, the infamous Thomas Jefferson, and even his own marriage.

“But perhaps the real reason UVA is so great is that it trusts its students. You have the nation’s oldest student-run honor code. Say it with me – on my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this assignment, so help me Adderall.”

Since giving this speech, Colbert has “graduated” himself, making the shift from his Comedy Central show to hosting primetime’s The Late Show on CBS, where he has recently found a new pastime in poking fun at President Trump.

Check out the speech here

4. Mindy Kaling — Harvard Law School, 2014

Former intern to Conan O’Brien, Mindy Kaling has been a dynamite actress and writer since bursting into the comedy spotlight as Kelly Kapoor on The Office. Since then, Kaling has found massive success with her own show The Mindy Project—and her address to the Class of 2014 from Harvard Law.

“You are the nerds who are going to make some serious bank, which is why I am here today…to marry the best-looking amongst you.”

As to whether or not she was qualified to speak at the commencement, Kaling claimed, “I do know a ton about the law because I sue everyone.”  

Check out the speech here

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5. Conan O’Brien — Dartmouth College, 2011

Former boss of Mindy Kaling, Conan O’Brien has been a late-night staple since the early 90’s. Standing proud behind what he describes as a podium like something a bear would use at an AA meeting,” Conan brought his self-deprecating charm and good-natured quips to the graduating class of 2011 at Dartmouth.

“New Hampshire is such a special place. When I arrived I took a deep breath of this crisp New England air and thought, ‘Wow, I’m in the state that’s next to the state where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is made.’”

As most comedy geeks know, Conan went to Harvard, not Dartmouth. But in his speech he claims, “If I had gone to Dartmouth, right now I’d be wearing a fleece thong instead of a lace thong.”

Check out the speech here

6. Ellen Degeneres — Tulane University, 2009

Mononym queen and daytime sweetheart Ellen Degeneres has been crushing the comedy scene for almost four decades. From her work on her own ‘90s sitcom to the more recent Finding Dory, Degeneres has found popularity across a huge variety of age groups and demographics. I can say with 100% certainty that my 62-year old mother is catching up on Ellen clips at this very moment.

Her speech to the so-called 2009 “Katrina” class at Tulane is both funny and poignant, goofy and incredibly sincere. Degeneres tackles topics such as sexuality, tragedy, and fame.

“I thought that you had to be a famous alumnus, alumini, aluminum, alumis; you had to graduate from this school. And I didn’t go to college here, and I don’t know if President Cowan knows, I didn’t go to any college at all, any college. And I’m not saying you wasted your time, or money, but look at me, I’m a huge celebrity.”

But there’s one thing she has in common with the grads, Degeneres says:  “I was born and raised here, I spent my formative years here, and like you, while I was living here I only did laundry six times.”

Check out the speech here

7. Will Ferrell — Harvard University, 2003

A USC grad, Will Ferrell had no business giving the commencement speech to the Harvard University class of 2003. And yet, here we are.

Packed with jokes, Ferrell’s script is full of twists and turns, outbursts, and even some impassioned singing. Hard to believe his 50th birthday will be occurring later this year. (I could’ve sworn he was 60.)

“Some of you will be captains of industry and business. Others of you will go on to great careers in medicine, law and public service. Four of you—and I’m not at liberty to say which four—will go on to magnificent careers in the porno industry. I’m not trying to be funny. That’s just a statistical fact.”

As of 2017, Ferrell is both a comedic powerhouse AND a household name. And with all those houses, his upcoming 2017 flick co-starring Amy Poehler, “The House,” is sure to be a winner.

Check out the speech here

8. Eugene Mirman — Lexington High School, 2009

These days, it seems like high school humor consists of nothing more than a few well-placed emojis, fleeting dance crazes, and more shareable memes than original jokes.

But in 2009, Bob’s Burgers actor and human beanbag chair Eugene Mirman gave a hilarious five-minute speech to the 2009 graduating class of Lexington High School that perfectly incorporated teenage angst and youthful energy. The speech is one of the wittiest and most honest of the bunch.

“The main difference for you, between life yesterday and life tomorrow, is you can go to the bathroom whenever you want. It’s a pretty big responsibility, but you’ve earned it. A few more things: you can vote, start a family, go to war, even buy a beer. Just kidding, you’re only mature enough to shoot our enemies in the face.”

Mirman knows how to use absurdism to appeal to distraction-prone high school audiences, saying “I won’t lie to you, there is an asteroid heading for the earth and you only have four days to live. I’m sorry, where was I?”

Check out the speech here

9. Amy Poehler — Harvard University, 2011

Last but not least, one of the grand empresses of comedy: Amy Poehler. Armed with experience and talent out the wazoo, Poehler is the kind of comedian who can do anything– including ending a hysterical graduation speech with a quote from OutKast’s “Hey Ya.”

Harvard clearly has no shortage of comedic guests (or anything, for that matter.) Poehler’s speech to their 2011 graduating class was punchy and sharp.

“And I am here to tell you, life is like a heist that requires good drivers, an explosives expert, a hot girl who doubles as a master of disguise, and this is a hard and fast rule: if the Rock shows up, they’re on to you.”

As of now, we’re looking forward to her new BBC show and apparent biographical series about my life, Zero Motivation.

Check out the speech here

Did someone give a funny speech at YOUR graduation? Tell us about it!

Tweet to us @goldcmdy!

CARSEN SMITH (intern, branding and content) performs standup and improv in New York City. She co-created the improvised cooking show “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” which ran at Nashville’s Third Coast Comedy Club. @carsenasmith