Artist Spotlight

Laurie Kilmartin and the Subtle Power of Laughter

I spoke with stand-up comic Laurie Kilmartin about the #MeToo Movement, the power of laughter, and why men aren’t funny.

“It’s a small thing and a huge thing when men ‘let’ a woman make them laugh.” Photo credit: Mindy Tucker


I’m going to see a male comedian tonight. Why?

Because you live in Ohio and there are no other options? That is my best guess. (Or you got a groupon.)

In a recent article in The New York Times, you write about being a woman comedian and about the palpable relief and joy that women in the audience feel when a woman comedian comes onstage. Do you find yourself writing jokes for the women in your audiences?

I write jokes for one woman, me. If I was in the audience, would I laugh at this? Anytime a joke works, I think, hey, they’re like me. I’m not alone!

Do you think the #MeToo Movement is changing show business (comedy specifically) for the better?

Maybe it’s made a few goombahs on the bubble behave better, but in most cases, people like Harvey Weinstein don’t think they’re monsters. They don’t learn lessons from hashtags. I think #MeToo is changing the audience, they’re wanting to see more women in the lineups.

I’m 52. Chrissie Hynde is my one and only.” Photo credit: Mindy Tucker


Tell me the role women comedians can play in promoting feminism in our current political climate.

Just talk. Be good at your job. When people are in the audience of a comedy club, they surrender their power to the comedian. It’s a small thing and a huge thing when men “let” a woman make them laugh. A guy who can’t laugh at a woman comic certainly won’t vote for a woman candidate.

Does your son ever come to your shows? Do you talk to him about sexism and women’s rights?

I’ve dragged him to many comedy clubs but I don’t let him watch me. (And I don’t think he wants to). He’s 11, he thinks of a comedy club as the place Mom lets him play on the iPhone. I talk to him about sexism and homophobia and racism a lot. I always want him to think about how his words could make another kid feel.

Laurie Kilmartin’s searing stand-up special about her father’s death was released on Seeso in 2017 and is now available on Spotify. Her new comedy/self-help book, Dead People Suck, was just released in February.  


Who are some of your favorite women comedians? Who are some of your favorite women rock musicians?

I hate making lists because I always forget someone, plus that answer could be 1000 names long. I’ll tell you that I do a podcast with my friend, comedian Jackie Kashian. Every episode we have a (woman) comic of the week, we have an amazing compilation. Our first one was the hilarious Marcella Arguello, so you can start with her.

I’m 52. Chrissie Hynde is my one and only.

Why aren’t men funny?  🙂

At any given moment, ten men are funny, but it’s never the same ten.

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