‘Hysterical’ Stars Jessica Kirson and Marina Franklin on How They Made It in Comedy

If anyone’s ever said to you, “women aren’t funny,” just direct them to the dynamic documentary Hysterical about female stand-up comics trying to make it in a male-dominated industry. These comedians mine their experiences — their childhoods, their traumas, and the every-day reality of being a woman in this world — to produce laugh-out-loud material.

Coming to the stage with that rare combination of vulnerability and confidence is only half the battle. The other half? Fighting for stage time, dealing with rough and often unsafe conditions on the road, and defying social expectations that women should sit quietly and look pretty. What helps, though, is a strong community of fellow female comedians to support and lift each other up.

We spoke to Marina Franklin and Jessica Kirson, two of the film’s many stars (including names you probably recognize like Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho), about their careers in comedy. The pair have performed in some wacky places in New York City to hone their craft, such as the supermarket and laundromats.

Says Kirson, “Those kinds of shows were the ones that made me good,” with Franklin adding that performing at the laundromats was called “spin-cycle comedy.”

Franklin also talks about the pressure of feeling she has to represent all Black women on stage: “You just want to play on the same level as the guys are playing where they’re just going up there to be funny, and they’re just focused on their craft.”

Watch the video above for our more about these incredibly funny women and the fascinating careers they’ve led.

Hysterical, Documentary Premiere, Friday, April 2, 9/8c, FX