Detailed Findings & Methodology
“Saturday Night Live” has historically been a gateway for many women comedians in achieving mainstream popularity. Some of the most popular comedians today — Kate McKinnon, Sarah Silverman, Kristen Wiig, and Tina Fey — got their start on the show. Many women from the original 1975 cast, such as Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin, are also among the most popular funny people.
Other top comedians cut their teeth doing stand-up for years before transitioning to film or television. Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and Chelsea Peretti performed in small clubs and theaters for more than a decade before going on to create or star in their own shows: “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Sarah Silverman Show,” and “Brooklyn 99.”
Some of the best comedians achieved success through a smash sitcom and continue to garner mainstream fame in syndication. Roseanne Barr, Lisa Kudrow, and Lucille Ball are just a few of the names behind some of the most acclaimed television series of all time.
In recent years, the number of platforms available for comedians has expanded rapidly. Megan Amram, for example, was able to parlay a popular Twitter account into a writing job on “Parks and Recreation.” She has also since authored the successful “Science…For Her!” parody textbook. Similarly, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were able to transition “Broad City” from a small web series into a Comedy Central hit show after executive producer and fellow comedienne Amy Poehler became aware of the comedy duo on YouTube.
As more women in comedy are making their mark, they are also taking a stand against the industry’s current culture. In recent weeks, a number of women went on-the-record with sexual harassment claims against powerful Hollywood gatekeepers — actors, showrunners, producers, and more. Their accounts of trauma and assault reveal a culture of talented women losing roles or being outcast in other ways as a result of their speaking out or refusing to be victims. As more women are heard, and the misogynistic culture of the entertainment industry is exposed, more talented women may get the roles and exposure they deserve.
To determine the best female comedians, 24/7 Wall St. created an index ranking based on data from Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database. The daily average Wikipedia page views for a comedian between November 14, 2016 and November 14, 2017 were included in the index and given full weight. The average IMDb user ratings for the television shows, television specials, and films that a comedian both starred in and wrote, according to IMDb, were also given full weight and included in the index. To be considered for the list, a comedian must be listed within the Wikipedia category American women comedians. Ratings are for the entire series, not just the episode in which the comedian starred.
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