SXSW 2021: Hysterical

Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Jessica Kirson perform together at NY’s Comedy Cellar in HYSTERICAL, from director Andrea Nevins, about boundary-breaking women changing the face of stand-up comedy. Coming to FX and FX on Hulu in 2021.. Photo credit: Courtesy of FX.

Hysterical takes us behind the stage and on the road with a number of female comedians who are veterans, rising stars, or beginners.

It’s no joke that breaking into stand-up comedy isn’t easy. G-d knows I’ve tried but I’m more suited for improv and sketch comedy. Here’s a little known fact about me: I hosted a late night comedy talk show for six weeks during sophomore year of college. This was also before coming out as transgender so I don’t know if I would have gotten this opportunity otherwise. Being a woman means breaking into the industry is even harder!

At one point, the film reminds us about the misogyny in the comedy business. It hasn’t been easy for women in comedy but Jerry Lewis is notable for his remarks. Say what you will about including this segment but I think it must be included. For all of the female trailblazers, there were people like Lewis making sexist remarks.

There is a lot of dialogue about experiences in comedy that gets packed into the film. Kathy Griffin discusses the support from other comedians after tweeting the Trump photo. Everyone has their own experiences whether it’s on tour or just hitting stages for the first time. There’s a who’s who in comedy appearing on camera but of course, some people are missing. Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman come to mind. To be fair, Schumer does appear during a video in support of Griffin. And the article about the lack of equality in Netflix comedy deals. More on this in a moment!

For as much progress that there might be, there’s still work to be done. Sorry but I feel the need to call out Netflix for paying men millions upon millions while women in comedy still struggle to get their due. You have a comedian like Jerry Seinfeld making $100 million. I mean, he’s Seinfeld, right? But there is no excuse for Amy Schumer to be the highest paid female comedian with a Netflix deal valued at $13 million. This needs to change.

Some closing advice from Sherri Shepherd as the documentary nears its end: “Don’t sleep with other comics.” This is probably a good idea. You should listen to her!

At just under 90 minutes, Hysterical is only a small lens into the world of the women in stand-up comedy. There’s certainly enough stories out there to make a longer documentary.

DIRECTOR:  Andrea Nevins
FEATURING: Kelly Bachman, Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Rachel Feinstein, Marina Franklin, Nikki Glaser, Judy Gold, Kathy Griffin, Jessica Kirson, Lisa Lampanelli, Wendy Liebman, Carmen Lynch, Bonnie McFarlane, Sherri Shepherd, and Iliza Shlesinger

Hysterical holds its world premiere during the 2021 SXSW Film Festival in the Documentary Spotlight program. FX will air the film on April 2 at 9 PM ET/PT. Hysterical will be available the next day on Hulu.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.