Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde
Featuring well-known and up and coming comedians Hysterical is Andrea Nevins’ inside look at the world of stand-up comedy and the women taking over the industry. Admittedly before this documentary I wasn’t well versed in the world of comedy or stand-up for that matter, but this documentary made me want to learn even more about comedians and the strides women are making to reshape this industry. Told through a series of vignettes, childhood pictures and videos as well as stand up segments this piece was remarkable.
Women have been in comedy for so long and not given their due respect. It was perplexing, but not surprising, that women were largely ignored by the comedy world. The sexism and misogyny they experienced and this idea is exclusively for men is what this doc pushes back on. As the comics in the documentary describe, women have been dabbling in feelings for so much longer than men, making them perfect for comedy.
What I enjoyed most while watching this is this emphasis is nothing more than telling a story that connects with people. Many of the comics featured in Hysterical said their itch for comedy started in their childhood and a lack of being seen and heard drove them to this profession. As cliche as it sounds, comedy was the medium that propelled them forward and allowed them to break for their shell.
Being a comic was also a story of ups and downs for the comedians featured in this picture. This struggle brings a universality that allowed me to connect with it in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Descriptions of assault, insecurity, and the belittlement these women faced really resonated with me even though we are in completely different worlds. I would highly recommend this documentary to any one that is interested in comedy.
Hysterical is currently playing at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival.
You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on Letterboxd, Twitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.