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Funny lady

Meet America’s new breakout female comedians

A fresh crop of gut-busting women like Amy Schumer and Jillian Bell are rewriting the rules of comedy

There has never been a more exciting time for women in comedy than right now. The battles for better roles and better jokes still exist, but with the help of the Amy Schumers, Chelsea Perettis and Desiree Akhavans of the industry, they are becoming easier to win. Not only are these comedians fearless in their writing, using their humour to oppose both their position in the industry (see Schumer’s poignant sketch about ageing Hollywood women) and society, but they're cleverly mocking everything from celebrity culture to frat boys. Such is the force at which these women are taking over that gender is fast becoming a dated label in comedy, as jokes about being a woman continue to celebrate instead of criticise.

ABBI JACOBSON AND ILANA GLAZER

What you know them from: Their grossly funny web series Broad City grew into a fully-formed TV show for Comedy Central, with a third season in the pipeline. Bridesmaids (2011) director Paul Feig picked up their first big-screen project this month.

Why we think they’re funny: Whereas the women in Bridesmaids or Girls are made to be pitied for their terrible jobs, apartments and/or relationships, Jacobson and Glazer are unapologetic, defiantly taking the blows that life deals them in a fug of weed smoke and silliness.

DESIREE AKHAVAN

What you know them from: Wrote, directed and starred in her debut film Appropriate Behaviour, and appeared in season four of Girls as Hannah’s prickly coursemate.

Why we think they’re funny: There appears to be no obstacle between Akhavan’s darkly comic mind and her mouth. Musings, confessions and home truths spill out in the same biting, deadpan tone, making unedited honesty Akhavan’s best weapon.   

JENNY SLATE

What you know her from: Indie comedy Obvious Child (2014) and Jean-Ralphio’s despicable sister in Parks and Recreation.

Why we think she’s funny: With a sing-song voice that sounds like it comes from someone twice her height, Slate is stealthy with her gags, and will have you snorting before you’ve even processed the punchline.

AMY SCHUMER

What you know her from: Writes and stars on her own hit show Inside Amy Schumer and her upcoming film Trainwreck, produced by Judd Apatow.

Why we think she’s funny: Schumer is putting the western world to rights with her cutting, unmerciful swipes at everything from college rape culture to celebrity status to monogamy. Fearless in the face of her enemies, Schumer is an unstoppable freight train of funny.

ELLIE KEMPER 

What you know her from: Building a name for herself as the unfalteringly sweet Erin in The Office, Kemper was then cast as the lead in Tina Fey’s Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Why we think she’s funny: Although best known for her innocent charm, there’s a wicked edge to Kemper that resembles both an annoyingly upbeat schoolgirl and her evil twin.

MEGAN AMRAM

What you know her from: Aside from a prolific and gut-bustingly funny Twitter presence, Amram is the author of Science...For Her! and was a writer for Parks and Recreation.

Why we think she’s funny: Brutality. Bowel movements, “legitimate rape” and Jennifer Aniston’s alleged infertility are not below Amran’s filthy, wonderful moral threshold.

CHELSEA PERETTI

What you know her from: Star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, owner of cult podcast Call Chelsea Peretti and former writer for Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live.

Why we think she’s funny: Not only has Peretti flexed her emotive muscles by writing some of the best episodes of a nation’s most-loved shows (the “Smallest Park” episode of Parks and Rec is impossible to get through without tearing up) but her stand-up is gloriously crude to boot, proving that you can be disgusting without sacrificing sentiment.

JILLIAN BELL

What you know her from: Maya’s mouthy roommate in 22 Jump Street and the feckless Jillian Bell in Workaholics.

Why we think she’s funny: Bell’s meticulous timing and improvisation make her one of the most exciting upcoming comedians at the moment. Stealing the best lines from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 22 Jump Street (2014), her roles in Workaholics and web series Idiotsitter are note-perfect, delivered with an unblinking ease that confirms she is only going to get greater.

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