Arguably the first white female stand up comedian. Wrote ALL her own material.
In Ms. Carroll’s day, the world of stand-up comedy was thought to be no fit place for a woman. There were female entertainers before her, of course, but few specialized in the solo nightclub acts for which Ms. Carroll became famous. Minnie Pearl, for instance, inhabited a carefully cultivated stage persona. (Ms. Carroll, by contrast, was unabashedly herself.) Fanny Brice appeared mostly in burlesque houses and on radio. Sophie Tucker, though she spiced her acts with risqué humor, was best known as a singer.
Perhaps only Moms Mabley, who began performing solo comedy routines in the 1910s, can be considered Ms. Carroll’s true predecessor. But because of her race, Ms. Mabley was confined for much of her career to the network of black vaudeville houses familiarly known as the chitlin circuit, playing to wider audiences only late in life.
Genteel by today’s standards, Ms. Carroll’s humor was radical in its day — radical, that is, in the hands of a lone woman with a microphone in front of her and an audience at her command. For a female comic to wield that sort of power was unheard of then, especially in the smoke-filled universe of nightclubs.