This Comedy Festival Is Charging Women a Different Price for a Great Reason

(C) Jennifer Yin / Center for Asian American Media

A Brooklyn-based comedy festival is charging women, people of color, LGBTQ folks and people with disabilities a different price to submit their work than straight, white men. The catch? The “minority” comedians will pay 77 cents to every dollar a straight, white male comedian pays—a reflection of the gender-wage gap.

“The 77 cents to the dollar is definitely a political statement,” director of the Cinder Block Comedy Festival Coree Spencer told The Daily Dot. “Originally that 77-cent discount was supposed to be just for women … As I was doing a little more research and kind of growing as a human being, I realized that that discount should be extended out to other groups that I want to be part of it [in order] to create the festival that I want.”

While festival organizers say their goal is to highlight “the diverse talents currently in the industry,” Cinder Block has been criticized by—surprise!—straight, white men. Wrote one commenter on Facebook, “And this shit is exactly why stand-up comedy is dead today. That art form died with [George] Carlin.”

But Cinder Block remains committed to creating a truly diverse—not tokenistic—festival in a world so dominated by straight, white men.

Said organizers in a statement,

Over the past few days, we have received an overwhelming amount of feedback concerning our decision to employ ‘wage gap pricing’ in the application process for the Cinder Block Comedy Festival, charging women, people of color, [people with disabilities] and members of the LGBTQIA community 77 cents on the dollar, an acknowledgement of the pay disparity in the United States. We would like to publicly state that we stand by our decision and our commitment to creating a diverse comedy festival, showcasing talent from all backgrounds.

White guys are invited to submit, they just won’t be dominating the Cinder Block lineup the way they do most other comedy shows. According to Bitch, mainstream New York City comedy club Carolines on Broadway—which the publication says is fairly representative of mainstream clubs across the country—featured an average of 8 per cent women headliners between 2011 and 2014—that’s 110 women out of 1,346 total comedians. Cinder Block organizers are trying to right that wrong by actively reaching out to comedians who don’t currently see themselves represented on comedy-club stages.

Non-white-male comedians can submit themselves to Cinder Block individually or as a group for $19.25 until March 31. After that, everyone—including straight, white men—can submit for $25.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jennifer yin licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.