THE BLOG
09/05/2014 08:55 EDT | Updated 11/05/2014 05:59 EST

Joan Rivers Paved the Way For Female Comedians

As with the passing of any legend, Joan Rivers' death has shocked and saddened many -- especially in the comedy community she was a part of for over 40 years.

Celebrities took to Twitter to express their condolences, many marking what a true icon Rivers was.

From The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, to Fashion Police on E! Joan Rivers was always outspoken and always hilarious. Although she was oft-criticized for the harsh nature of her jokes, she was quick to turn the mic against herself for the good of the bit, and was a true comedian's comedian.

Perhaps most importantly, Rivers paved the way for female comedians like no one before her. She was the first female comic to perform at Carnegie Hall. Many famous funny ladies cite Rivers as their inspiration, and with good reason. Her no-nonsense style of comedy put her in the ring alongside the men of her day, and throughout her career. She wasn't separate but equal -- she was always willing to go head to head with anyone. That fearlessness is what made her both a feminist icon and a force to be reckoned with on stage.

Looking at the festival line-up for late-September's JFL42, TO's answer to Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival, you can see the influence Joan Rivers had on the comedy world. With more female comics than any other year, the festival is a veritable who's who of lady-stars.

Here are some of the sidesplittingly funny women I'm most excited to see at this year's JFL42. I'm sure many of these performers can thank Joan for grappling her way to the top of the comedy ladder and making sure men knew they're weren't the only ones who could make 'em laugh.

Lena Dunham

While not technically a comedian, the GIRLS creator, writer and star certainly knows funny. This event promises to be an interesting one, and a chance to interact with Dunham herself -- don't tell me I'm the only one who's practiced talking to her in the mirror? Well, now's your chance! The queen of HBO will be reading excerpts from her new book "Not That Kind of Girl," doing an interview with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, and taking questions from the audience. Apparently, there will be no nudity. Decide for yourself how you feel about that.

Wanda Sykes

She's been doing stand up as long as I've been alive, so, suffice it to say, Wanda Sykes is a professional. She was named one of the best stand up acts of all time by Comedy Central, and after watching a clip or two on YouTube you'll see why. Always bold, always brash, always hilarious. Wanda is a pro you won't want to miss.

Amy Schumer

I don't want to lie to you, so I will just come straight out and say that I am obsessed with Amy Schumer. The dark and controversial skits on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer always make me cringe while laughing. I truly think she's the next big thing, and if you don't go see her then you'll regret it for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Tig Notaro

Don't tell me you don't know about Tig Notaro. She's most notorious (Notarious?) for the awkwardly honest stand-up set she did right after being diagnosed with cancer. One double mastectomy later and Tig Notaro has blown up. She is a true stand up comedian, and she commits to her bits until the bitter end. A must-see.

Broad City

This hilarious young duo comprised of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson has sky-rocketed to fame after their webseries was discovered by fellow Upright Citizens Brigade alum Amy Poehler. They went on to turn that webseries into the funniest show I saw all year (also called Broad City). Signed on for a second season, these two are just warming up, and you'll want to be able to say you saw them when.

I never got to see Joan live, something I will always regret, but I know that, with so many amazing and talented ladies performing, she'll be there in spirit.

...Probably booing them, but, you know, in a supportive way.

If you're interested in seeing these comedy shows and more, check out JFL42's website.

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