Adam Carolla, Sexism, and the Failure of the Hollywood Meritocracy

I recognize that Adam Carolla’s entire schtick is to be awful and pretend he’s achieved some sort of profound insight, but I think his latest ugly comments about women in the writers’ room are worth highlighting, if only as an illustration of what men can get away with essentially without consequence in Hollywood. He told the New York Post:

They make you hire a certain number of chicks, and they’re always the least funny on the writing staff. The reason why you know more funny dudes than funny chicks is that dudes are funnier than chicks. If my daughter has a mediocre sense of humor, I’m just gonna tell her, “Be a staff writer for a sitcom. Because they’ll have to hire you, they can’t really fire you, and you don’t have to produce that much. It’ll be awesome.”…I don’t care. When you’re picking a basketball team, you’ll take the brother over the guy with the yarmulke. Why? Because you’re playing the odds. When it comes to comedy, of course there’s Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Kathy Griffin — super-funny chicks. But if you’re playing the odds? No. If Joy Behar or Sherri Shepherd was a dude, they’d be off TV. They’re not funny enough for dudes. What if Roseanne Barr was a dude? Think we’d know who she was? Honestly.

I cannot even imagine what would happen if a prominent female comedy writer was this openly dismissive of network brass, much less a request by network brass that you behave like every other employer in America is expected to behave, or add a little perspective to your team. Actually, I have a pretty good idea: she’d be branded a bitch, impossible in a way that Dan Harmon, recently defenestrated from Community, can’t even begin to contemplate. You can see that in Jessica Borsiczky being careful to say that even though she’s known women who were retaliated against for taking maternity leave, things are much better in television today. You can see it in Amy Sherman-Palladino trying as hard as she can not to be seen criticizing another female showrunner even as a (female) interviewer goads her as hard as possible into a catfight narrative.

And yet Adam Carolla, a comic so pathetic he thinks it’s clever to suggest nerds are undatable, to say that men are somehow neutered by the rise of feminism, that it’s uproarious to suggest the acronym LGBT be replaced with YUCK, is somehow, by virtue of these clear demonstrations of wit and the fact that he’s a dude with a frattish fanbase, free to behave like this. It’s not like the pretense that Hollywood is a meritocracy is anything but torn to shreds, but really, Carolla is one of the most humiliating illustrations of its utter, miserable failure.