These Comedians Are Rallying Together for Industry Diversity
| LAST UPDATE 12/23/2022
Yesterday marked a significant shift in comedy as The Writers Guild of America East and Writers Guild of America West drew up a pledge to improve the levels of diversity and equality within the industry. Giving it weight, Over 200 of the biggest comedians in the world backed the effort, signing their names on the document. Including Amy Schumer, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, The Kid Mero, and more; the hope is that those previously barred from the industry due to systematic barriers will have an opportunity to enter and thrive. A joint statement detailed the groups' hopes and plans.
"Traditional pipelines into late-night and comedy-variety television are historically overwhelmingly white, and it is, therefore, insufficient to rely solely upon them when making hiring decisions," they said. "We will look for applicants in more diverse spaces than the traditional set of colleges, universities, and comedy spaces, and we will expand our existing networks by seeking recommendations from a broader and more diverse group of writers, networks, and lists." While the report has no official policy status, the WGAE explained it will be used as "a tool that the Guild can use to monitor progress in these efforts."
Lowell Peterson, the director of WGAE, released his own statement in support of the group's actions. "Our members are aware and committed to the ideas and the actions in this important pledge. The pledge is proof that people in positions of power, as well as those at the staff writer level, embrace the change needed to ensure BIPOC voices are a vital part of the influential world of late night and comedy-variety television."
The comedians behind the pledge acknowledged the recent decline in late-night comedy views, speculating it results from the lack of host diversity. "The more that our rooms are representative of and speak to the public, the more likely viewers will tune in to hear from us again," they wrote. The action plan includes reforms to the writing packet judgment and criteria, which wannabe writers must submit to be considered for a job. They also commit to giving marginalized writers a safe space to create ideas. Stay tuned to see if and how these changes bring together comedians of all backgrounds.