Iliza Shlesinger, a stand-up comedian and host of Freeform’s Truth & Iliza, finds herself at the center of a tweetstorm today. It started when she gave an interview to Deadline where, without naming any names, she criticizes women in the stand-up scene who make a calculated attempt to “act like a guy” by talking about sex on stage in order to further their careers. Here’s what she said:
When you’re a woman in comedy and you get a break, people get so excited about it, but while we have to work hard to get that attention, I do think many women think, “Oh if I just act like a guy, if I go for that low hanging fruit…” Everything’s about sex, or how weird I am. It all just kind of runs together.
I could walk into The Improv, close my eyes, and I can’t tell one girl’s act apart from another. That’s not saying that 30-something white guys don’t all sound the same sometimes, but I’m banging my head against the wall because women want to be treated as equals, and we want feminism to be a thing, but it’s really difficult when every woman makes the same point about her vagina, over and over. I think I’m the only woman out there that has a joke about World War II in my set.
I think shock value works well for women, but beyond that, there’s no substance. I want to see what else there is with such complex, smart creatures.
Regardless of Shlesinger’s intentions, this critique did not go over very well—to put it mildly—with Shlesinger’s fellow comedians (both male and female) on Twitter, who took offense to being told what they should be talking about on stage. Shlesinger, who ironically enough came out on stage in a vagina costume on a recent episode of her late-night show, came out in her own defense on the social-media platform earlier this afternoon in a statement, after hours of tweeting back and forth with critics:
Earlier, before deleting most of her comments, Shlesinger promised to appear on Facebook Live to address the interview tonight at 6 p.m. PT; she’s also deleted that comment, so we’re guessing that is no longer happening. In the meantime, you can read a compiled version of Shlesinger’s earlier statements on Twitter and some choice responses from comics over at Splitsider.