Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The Comedic Female Executive
There are obvious similarities between female executives and female comedians. Both work in an aggressive male-dominated environment.
Despite swimming among the sharks, I, myself, earned a seat on the board of directors for a public Japanese firm. We celebrated by going out for sushi.
Later that year, I received news that our 3rd quarter earnings were down. I called an emergency session. Together with our marketing department, we posted caution signs, filled the room with emergency siren lights, and strung-up "do not cross tape" at the entrance of the boardroom. For lunch we served some pretty astonished looking sushi.
At the end of that year, our earnings rose above our highest grossing quarter by 11%. No wonder both female comedians and executives report having daydreams of fluffy-world domination.
Some good-humored forbearance can tone down uninhibitedly sexist environments. Unfortunately, there are still a number of women, who when in doubt, seduce.
Yet, there's something about a sparkling repartee, that is far more effective - not to mention instinctive, responsive, and enjoyable as heck. More than being comedians or executives, we're actresses. No wonder Phyllis Diller felt she had to dress in drag to attend a Friars Club roast.
Cellulite and cellophane only go so far. Today's audience is far more savvy. Neither feline self-derision or macho-feminist ferocity work. The consciousness on the planet has evolved. Female comedians and executives aren't necessarily more advanced than their predecessors, but like in comedy, timing's everything. The decades of male-dominated sketch comedy has about as much appeal as the office of the presidency does for an ambitious young person in America. It lacks the power and influence it once had. With men like Eckhart Tolle inspiring millions of people, men and women, alike, around the globe with statements like: "The past has no power over the present moment," female comedians and executives in this generation no longer need to stoop.
Auditions for old-school attract many Shakespearean parodic actors (i.e., night-time television) but they won't hold the today's globally-savvy attention for much longer. Offbeat and likable qualities have far more appeal. It's like having a movie star who lives in your building and is first and foremost known as a good neighbor.
Let's face it, girls hung curtains in a male-dominated clubhouse when we introduced customer service.
And like you taught us in business school, the customer's always right!