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Susan B. Anthony is a fan.
There’s a lot of funny content on the Internet, but you have to know where to look. Is Twitter your short zinger jam? Is it video you’re looking for? You might just want to go right to WhoHaha, a new site launched by actress/producer/director Elizabeth Banks. Its clever title refers to the “who” behind the “haha,” which is obviously women.
“I thought WhoHaha.com could provide a place where young women could go to see some role models and get inspired,” Banks explained during a recent interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I felt like there was not a community online that really showcased funny women.”
The videos on WhoHaha are all short, sharable, and well-produced, covering TV tropes, corporate commercials, apps, social media, and casual sexism and racism, as well as humorous takes on sexuality, dating, friendships, and relationships. Among the homegrown content produced by up-and-coming female-identified comedians, there are also SNL clips, previews of Inside Amy Schumer, trailers for Netflix shows like The Characters, and links to Broad City previews.
The concept for the site came from a place of love rather than defensiveness or fear of not being seen. It’s also just practical. Consider sites like Funny or Die, which necessitate one to wade through content just to find women.
“It’s difficult to pull off the ‘ladies-only site’ without being hokey,” said comedian Laura Sanders, whose work is featured on WhoHaha. Her collaborative video Dongher, made with sketch comedy writing partner Lisa Berry, presents a solution to the Tinderization of feeling.
“Sites like Jezebel have humor but they’re not focused on that,” she said. “If you want to go for humor, you probably don’t also want to see a news piece that’s about terror.”
Vana Dabney and Deirdre Devlin’s video “Unboxing a Boyfriend”—which spoofs the “how to wrap or unwrap something” YouTube videos coupled with the seeming “convenience” inherent in the millennial’s search for a love/romance/sex/adventure/lust—pokes fun at how convenient it would be to have a perfect partner delivered to one’s doorstep without any of the work required to have real intimacy with another human being. It also explores the pleasure of objectifying men. Dabney and Devlin see WhoHaha as a type of incubator, a place where emerging female comedic talent can be seen.
“Having an A-list celebrity like Elizabeth Banks say, ‘Hey, I am going to gather these funny women from the Internet, different comedians, and put them all here’ is awesome,” said Devlin. “It’s great to be a part of that group. Most of the women on the site are our friends or our peers.”
“It will be interesting to see what they do longterm—if this becomes a place to launch female comedians’ careers, or just a curated womens’ site,” added Dabney.
Others featured on the site didn’t even know that they’d been selected until someone tweeted them a link. Such was the case with L.A. comedian Petey Gibson, whose webseries Meals with Mary is a satire of TV cooking shows that features her alter ego, Mary Dolan, a very old, hopelessly heterosexual woman who is rather aggressive toward basically everyone she encounters. In real life, Gibson is none of those things, which makes Mary even stranger.
“It’s a great, interactive, funny site full of funny women, and it’s not coming from a defensive place, or like an ‘Oh, let me just show you what you can do,’” said Gibson. “It puts women front and center rather than [having to] wade through flaccid dick jokes or rape jokes.”
Another comedian featured on the site, Mo Welch, happened to be in the midst of shooting her new series Rebrand while WhoHaha was launching. The webseries focuses on a fallen YouTube star named Lee who is trying to get her Internet game back. In the series, she goes on a journey to “rebrand” and reclaim her Internet self. This makes sense thematically for Welch, who admits that she loves stories about hitting rock bottom and gaining more awareness as a result.
Now’s as good a time as any for a site dedicated exclusively to emerging female voices in comedy. Just check out the latest 2015 Forbes article about the top-earning comedians, and notice that there are no women listed.
“I’m a believer in women helping women,” said Welch. “I think WhoHaha.com is just more proof of all of the funny women out there.”
Alicia Eler is the author of 'The Selfie Generation: How Our Self-Images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture.' She is the visual art critic at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Her work has been published in the Guardian, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Magazine, CNN, LA Weekly, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times.