‘The Harvard Lampoon’ Hires Its First African-American Woman As President

December 20, 2013  |  

During its 137-year history, Harvard Lampoon Magazine, a humorous publication based in the prestigious Ivy League institution, has never had an African-American president — until now! Alexis Wilkinson is now running the respected magazine, BuzzFeed reports.

Adding to this triumph, Harvard Lampoon Magazine also chose its first Black female vice president, Eleanor Parker. Although these two women say they didn’t set out to make history, they know that their presence on top will pave the way for other African Americans to run the lauded publication.

They hope, according to BuzzFeed, that “having two women at the lead of the magazine encourages women on campus to apply and get involved and get excited about writing comedy.”

Due to Lampoon’s comedic tones, Wilkinson was asked about her perspective on Saturday Night Live’s underrepresentation of Black women. In her response, she explains that she’s much more concerned about the lack of African-Americans behind the camera. The measly number of Black writers for SNL and other TV programs, she says, is disappointing.

“I think we pay a lot of attention to the performative aspect of comedy, but as far as the number of performers go, there’s way more gender and race equality in performance of comedy than there has ever been in writing,” Wilkinson told NPR. “Like, no one is paying attention to the fact that, like, there are absolutely, like, no people of color writing for [shows].”

Wilkinson also tackles the stereotyped notion that women just aren’t funny. She blames this mindset on societal gender roles that dictate that clowning around is solely reserved for men. “I think, you know, women are trained to be looked at and not to be laughed at,” Wilkson says.

Parker, addressing the same issue, adds that it’s always harder to be funny in an unwelcoming environment.  “And so when you feel like the odd man out – or in this case the odd woman out – definitely that, that is a barrier to comedy,” she says. ” I think [when] you feel more comfortable, that makes it just easier to make jokes.”

Despite the scarcity of Black women in the field of funny, Wilkinson and Parker seem to be taking the right steps to nabbing great careers as comedy writers.

Famous figures who have previously held Wilkinson’s position at Harvard Lampoon Magazine include the late John Updike, an American novelist, and late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien.

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