Hannah Gadsby in Nanette. (Courtesy: Ben King, Netflix)
Here’s your annual reminder that, nope, you don’t have to be involved with anything musical whatsoever to win a Grammy. Comedians can get one, too, and one will at Sunday’s ceremony.
But something curious happened with this year’s best comedy album category: For the first time since 2007, all of the nominees are men. And that’s especially surprising now, when some of the most urgent and critically acclaimed comedy is coming from women.
Ali Wong’s Hard Knock Wife, in which she told jokes about motherhood and sex (all while very pregnant), served as a fitting follow-up to her first Netflix special, which catapulted her to fame. Michelle Wolf’s Nice Lady, which first aired on HBO in December 2017 before an audio release within the Grammy eligibility period, was one of 2017’s most celebrated specials; months later, Wolf performed a scorched-earth White House correspondents’ dinner set that turned into a First Amendment debate.
Others, such as Tig Notaro (Happy To Be Here) and Natasha Leggero (The Honeymoon Stand Up Special) also released acclaimed specials within the eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018). And Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, in which she criticized self-deprecation and offered no escapist laughs, created immense buzz and prompted a new level of conversation about the very nature of stand-up.
After the Grammy nominees were unveiled in December, Iliza Shlesinger, who released Elder Millennial on Netflix in July, tweeted she hadn’t expected to receive a nod but was shocked no other woman had. “This total shut out, when so many women put out NOT JUST FUNNY FOR A WOMAN BUT FUNNY BECAUSE THEY ARE FUNNY albums this year is pathetic.”
“Hannah, Tig, Ali and Natasha are out there grinding,” Shlesinger continued. “I’ve watched their careers grow as well as their fan base. Their names constantly come up in conversations about comics people love. Grammys missed out big time this time. You guys really missed a beautiful moment.”