Looking at the immense talent and popularity of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, or Maya Rudolph, one can almost believe that it is a good time to be a woman in comedy. But while these women work towards making comedy an equal opportunity playing field for both genders, the male skew still persists. It is manifest in unequal pay, ridiculous interviews about cat fights, and needless competition among peers.
In such a state of affairs, Refinery29’s female-first YouTube channel RIOT rebelliously champions funny women. Creative director Julie Miller worked for Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central for years, learning from the talents of Tina Fey (30 Rock, SNL) and Jessi Klein (writer for Inside Amy Schumer). Miller’s pitch to Refinery29 highlighted the need for a truly niche platform for woman-centric content, one that can find a home most easily on the web. The website entered the digital media space this year with original web series such as The Skinny by Jill Soloway and Jessie Kahnweiler and the Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan starrer The Walker.
Miller is constantly involved in the creative process, producing content that tackles subjects that may be too true for comfort. For instance, a truth fairy (musical comedian Tessa Hersh) sings about hating being a part of your friend’s baby shower, using Instagram filters to make your life seem a little greener from the other side, or being completely paralysed when all you need to say is the word “No.”
The series Womanhood features comedians Jo Firestone and Archana Nancherla in deadpan expressions and shoulder-padded blazers discussing puberty, tampons, menopause, the fears that come with the thirties, and mid-life crises. The series is shot as a parody of the 1990s television talk show format and has a scratchy VHS tape quality.
Woke Bae is a series in which host Phoebe Robinson and a guest talk about crush-worthy male celebrities who are great at what they do. The list includes comedian Aziz Ansari, actor Mark Ruffalo and absolutely everyone’s perfect man – Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Jacqueline Novak, author of How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows, discusses depression and anxiety with guest stars such as Lena Dunham. The series Report Card touches on crucial subjects such as the benefits of psychedelic drugs and herpes. RIOT’s latest series Expecting, by filmmaker Shaina Feinberg, consists of a series of sketches about pregnancy.
Additionally, RIOT Live features interview clips with writer Jessi Klein from an event where creative director Miller described the web platform as place to celebrate women who are radical and relatable.
The channel is new and not too many videos old, but some of them have already received thousands of views. It’s easy to see why. RIOT is a female-centric, woman-first web destination to watch out for. Subscribe away.