Your Source for Feminist Discourse

GirlCode on Campus

This weekend, Nicole Byer and Alice Wetterlund from MTV’s hit show, Girl Code, came to JMU for the Spring comedy show. As a huge fan and serial quoter of GirlCode I was so excited to see their stand-up comedic skills. In the end, however, I’m still not sure, as a feminist, how to feel about their performances.

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Blending feminist rhetoric and comedy has always been hit or miss, but from my conversations many people are either for or against the performance that took place last night. Nicole Byer threw a ton of jokes about her race and about sex. She spoke about her position as a “liberated sexual woman” and followed it up with “comedic” horror stories about her sex life. It wasn’t positive or empowering at all. It was exactly what you’d expect from a comedian who chooses to go down the raunchy self-exposing path.

However, it was Alice Wetterlund who sparked the most opposing responses. Some were completely uncomfortable with her while others applauded her satirical approach on social commentary. Wetterlund immediately opened up with the audience that she was a feminist. By doing so, however, she simultaneously alienated some listeners while captivating others. One joke was about how men say that they “hit on women” as a commentary to the trouble in using certain violent language. She also talked about football and the hypocrisy of how the very same players who wear pink for breast cancer are also often in the media for crimes of sexual assault. I found most of her set to be quite satirical and dry and I loved it. But I also see the trouble in calling yourself a feminist and then joking lightheartedly about rape…and then justifying said jokes with more.

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The line between sharing humorous commentary and offending audience members is a fine one. Personally, I don’t think that Wetterlund was in the wrong – completely. For the most part, I truly enjoyed her satire and wit. We can agree that she was successful in that many people are having conversations regarding everything she said. The differing reactions of audience members will vary. Where do you stand on the performances?

9 Responses to “GirlCode on Campus”

  1. cpowell92

    First off, I am so glad you decided to write about this because I myself was not sure how I felt about most of it. For Nicole’s I honestly was a little shocked. The part about orphan sex just made me so uncomfortable and I thought a lot of the jokes went a bit too far. However, in regards to Alice I do agree that she turned off some audience members while turning on others with the feminist comment. I liked her more but some of my friends said she was boring and I wonder if that is because she opened with that…? And then they decided to tune her out? I’m not sure but I am definitely going to ask though after reading your post. It should definitely spark good discussion!

    Reply
    • mymanifesta

      Thanks for your comment! I completely forgot about that particular part during Nicole’s set and I agree that it was a little out of hand- a little too far. It would definitely be interesting to get more opinions on Alice though for sure.

      Reply
  2. truequeerlatte

    Nicole made me uncomfortable on SOOO many levels. I was really upset by Nicole’s jokes about beating your partner and they way she disparaged black women for their names and black men for having skin that is too dark. I think she has some internalized racism going on. It is difficult enough to be in a world where people dismiss you for your skin color, so to have another black person do it to you on a comedic stage was wildly offensive and super unfeminist. I’d also like to point out that it is just as offensive for a black man to call a black woman an oreo as it is for a white man to call a black woman exotic. I don’t understand why white men were put on some pedestal in her set as if black men are these horrible people that no one should ever be attracted to, including black women…? In regard’s to Alice’s feminism – I think her jokes were just too smart for the crowd. I think many people were uninterested in her feminist humor and a lot of it was going over their heads. I thought she was pretty brilliant myself. I wish Nicole had been less offensive, but I also understand the pressure to use self-deprecating humor as a black woman speaking to a mostly white audience.

    Reply
    • mymanifesta

      I completely agree with all of this. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
    • Nicole

      I didn’t mean to make ALL of you feel so uncomfortable. First off jokes are jokes, all are based on truths pushed to a point. I’ll try to explain my jokes, although some have been updated or changed.
      1. The joke about beating your partner I think was about how even relationships fail in my mind. Which was taken to a huge extreme, like what’s the most extreme thing you wouldn’t/shouldn’t tolerate in a relationship. To clarify; I don’t think abuse is good.

      2. The joke about black names was about how black and white people both name they’re kids non tradition names. Then I did one of my favorite characters a little girl named ricotta.

      3. The black man… I was just describing what he looked like. I don’t hate him enough though his dick was out in public.

      4. It’s my choice to want to be called exotic and not a fucking food item… an Oreo. Also my answer to that questions was dripping in sacrasam. If I had a choice people would love me for me and call me nicole. I don’t put white men on a pedestal but it’s like nice to not have my “blackness” questioned which is something I talk about for like 10 mins.

      5. I know my orphan pussy joke is offensive and uncomfortable. I have no explanation for that. My parents are dead and jokes are how I deal. I think maybe making people uncomfy makes me comfy? #oops

      6. Never said I was a feminist. Never said I was going to be empowering. Although I think I’m both. I do comedy and I stay true to myself and what I think is funny. I do that on the show and I do that in my sets and I do that in my life. So here are explanations not apologies cause I’m not sorry.

      Reply
      • Nicole

        3. The black man… I was just describing what he looked like. I don’t hate him enough* though his dick was out in public.

        *Enough should be even… Even though his dick was out in public.

        Reply
        • mymanifesta

          First off, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post. Also, thank you for going so into depth with your thoughts on the jokes. I am really a big fan of GirlCode and both you and Alice. I just wanted to analyze the set from a feminist perspective. For me, I was a bit uncomfortable with so many sexual jokes and references but I was by no means saying that ALL members of the audience were uncomfortable. Everyone has their own takeaways from the performance. Female and male comedians both joke about sex and gender, etc. So this isn’t a gendered post either. I suppose I was caught off guard from my expectations after watching GirlCode and then hearing the sets live. As a feminist, I wish there were less offensive topics, but as the post discusses, I understand that comedians are always balancing a fine line when handling certain subjects. This is just 1 opinion of many. I don’t believe, and hope that you/people would agree, that I wasn’t bashing either you or Alice as people – or your characters, rather the performance and specific jokes selected.

          Reply
  3. Dark Horse

    I thought Nicole was great and funny! As a large woman of color I thought it was great how Nicole was open and honest about the struggles of being a sexual person and her experiences in her own body. As for her racial comments, I do see how she could be offensive to some but her style of comedy is what I like crude, brash, and in your face. Her views on race and men are her own, and even though I do not personally agree, I can respect her opinion and the hilarity of the fact that I personally know a lot of women that feel that way. A lot of MALE comedians do the same thing. I think she was the best part of the night, As for Alice, she gave me a few giggles, but honestly to me she was not funny to me. And yes I am intelligent enough to understand her jokes and that point she was making, but I did not enjoy her delivery. Her “I’m so cute being awkward look at how awkward and real I am” thing was not working for me. She just was not that funny to me.

    Reply
    • mymanifesta

      Thanks for your comment! I understand that these different styles of comedy appeal to different people. I love both Nicole Byer and Alice, but I was trying to analyze it from the feminist perspective. It’s such a part of my life that I can’t unsee it, even for comedic purposes. I guess for me, it’s important to see how these things could be taken as offensive to people in the audience based on their own experiences.

      Reply

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