Earlier this year, Splitsider ran a piece noting that, of the 47 creators listed for late night comedy giant Adult Swim’s current roster of shows, none of them were women. Buzzfeed followed up on that disheartening number last week, tallying the creator credits on all the network’s shows, and finding that only 1 out of 34 of the names were female. (That’s in contrast to the industry average, which is 1 out of 5.) Long-time Adult Swim executive Mike Lazzo—who co-created Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, and who’s been with the network since before it even officially existed—was quoted in the piece by a source, who said they remembered him saying in a meeting “When you have women in the writers room, you don’t get comedy, you get conflict.”
Lazzo has now responded to that piece on Reddit, in an effort to clarify his statements:
“What I actually said was-women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects. Nonetheless this was a dumb answer to a good question as Lucille Ball and Gilda Rather to Amy Poelher and Amy Schumer prove my statement a load of generalized nonsense.
I have always been very accessible to every person at work because I personally benefited from working at a company that allowed anyone, from any position, to pitch an idea-as long as the person was prepared to back up their ambition by doing any work required to justify the time or expense. If unnamed sources want to complain, complain about me after I’ve read the script you asked me to read or tossed you out of my office for pitching something I didn’t like. If you did come to me I bet I offered some decent suggestions on how to accomplish whatever you wanted to do.”
What Lazzo didn’t do—as pointed out in a recent editorial by Polygon’s Julia Alexander—was apologize for his network’s massive gender gap (or even discuss it in the context of it being a problem), let alone express any real interest in examining what it is about the Adult Swim culture that discourages women from taking part. “The bottom line,” Alexander writes, “Is that Lazzo’s explanation of why Adult Swim didn’t have more female creators wasn’t an apology and a promise to do better, but more excuses as to why he wouldn’t bring on more… It’s not okay to say, ‘I wish we had more people like Tina Fey or Amy Schumer’ when networks aren’t willing to give female writers the chance to prove they can be.”