If one’s Twitter feed is a complete reflection of oneself, then stand-up comic, satirist, and author of recently-released Toxic Femininity in the Workplace Ginny Hogan presents a sarcastic, self-deprecating front. Her tweets span a wide range, from one-off tales of sexcapades to real-talk on the impact of the recession.
“There’s some truth in my tweets, but a lot of the stuff is also made up. Any topic that I tweet about regularly – tech, feminism, sobriety, being single, depression – is pretty real, but there are a lot of one-off tweets that I make up,” explained Hogan in an exclusive interview with The Tempest.
“I hate when people comment and tell me I behaved weirdly in a conversation – the tweets mostly aren’t true, and I don’t want people’s opinions,” added the satirist, who was named one of the 15 best humorists earlier this year by Paste Magazine.
She cites a love/hate relationship with the social media platform, labeling it as “the lowest barrier between my brain and the world.”
Tweets are just scraping the surface of this funny, eccentric personality.
Hogan found her way into the world of comedy during her time in the tech industry when she’d been writing a data blog about online dating. She soon realized she enjoyed writing jokes more than data analysis.
“At first, I thought of it as a hobby and didn’t worry too much about breaking in. I found it relatively easy to do stand-up every night, but figuring out how to make money from it was the hard part,” she said.
She soon realized she enjoyed writing jokes more than data analysis.
Making use of her skills as a writer, Hogan began reaching out to publications internet-wide. Soon, the writer built an impressive portfolio which features regular bylines in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Elite Daily. She also cofounded, and writes for, humor site, Little Old Lady Comedy.
Her biggest comedy career milestone, though, stems from one of her first pieces for The New Yorker, which was picked up by HarperCollins and fleshed into a book, Toxic Femininity in the Workplace – out today. It takes a humorous approach to sexism in the workplace, approaching it from different angles and presenting it in a variety of formats including lists, quizzes, short stories, and monologues.
“It’s based off my own experiences [but] it’s not a collection of true stories. I want to make people laugh, but I also want to make them think about what true experiences the pieces are based on.
“I’m hoping women relate to it, but I’d be sad if they related too hard to all of it because some of the pieces are intentionally exaggerated for humorous effect,” said Hogan. She’s hoping to educate and entertain readers, as well as make women realize they aren’t alone in the bullshit dynamics they have to navigate in sexist work culture.
Writing a satire book comes with its own set of challenges, though, and Hogan shared one of her most frustrating yet favorite anecdotes relating to it.
Making people laugh for a living is far from easy, though.
“I’ve gotten maybe five direct messages on Twitter and Instagram from men saying things like, ‘thank you for finally calling out how harmful feminism is.’ That’s obviously not what the book is about, but I tried to sell it to them anyway,” she said.
Making people laugh for a living is far from easy, though, and while Hogan admits to some days being miserable, she followed it by saying that it’s where she feels like herself the most.
The negative comes from people misbehaving towards each other, general pessimism, and shit-talkers. Dating as a comedian is a job too.
Plus, there are a lot of late nights in stand-up.
“One thing I hear a lot is men suggesting I got something because I’m a woman. There are a lot of white men who feel like something is being taken away from them by trying to expand the field,” she added.
So, is comedy just simple entertainment?
Some believe comedy to be a type of therapy (it’s definitely cheaper than most therapy sessions), and jokes about tragedies – albeit, walking a fine line between humorous and offensive – have also been cited as being a form of catharsis. They can even be helpful in engaging more with topical events and, generally, connecting as a community.
“I sometimes think jokes craft the perfect metaphor to open someone’s eyes.”
“I sometimes think jokes craft the perfect metaphor to open someone’s eyes. That said, I see tons and tons of jokes taking aim at Trump and Republicans, and it does seem like everyone who likes those jokes already agrees with them. I’d be curious to hear about someone who switched political affiliations because of a joke, though I don’t doubt that it’s happened!” said Hogan.
At the end of the day though, every comic has a different approach, a different style, a different sense of humor. Hogan admitted to making tons of sex jokes – “the easiest way to get a laugh” – at the start of her career when she was figuring out her voice. Since then, those jokes have dwindled down to 40% of her material, with the majority focused on more vulnerable topics.
“Most of my ideas come from my own thoughts. I spend a lot of time alone, and I’m always just going over conversations and stuff in my head (I have a therapist don’t worry),” said the comic.
And for any burgeoning comics reading this, Hogan’s words of wisdom? Don’t overthink it.
“I remember deliberating so hard over every word I said on stage or everything I tweeted at first, but ultimately, I needed to break out of that to find my voice,” she said.
“A lot of the material you try in the beginning will probably be bad, but, on the bright side, a lot of the material you try several years in will also be bad (I delete maybe 75% of my tweets). Good luck!”
Toxic Femininity in the Workplace: Office Gender Politics Are a Battlefield by Ginny Hogan is out now.
Plus, we’re giving away the book to two lucky winners on our Instagram! If you cannot wait, get it here.