Check out The 405's first interview with Kristen here, and the second here.

Recently, I posted on Facebook an article about how all the top ten highest paid comedians are men. I assumed this would be a non-controversial post. Can't we all get behind income equality? Didn't #MeToo just happen?

And yet, this post triggered many white male comedians I've performed with in the past, with another female comedian having the same experience when she posted the same article. The men pointed to how looking at the top ten isn’t an accurate way of assessing a glass ceiling, cited Kathy Griffin and Roseanne being unstable, basically anything they could think of that – in their minds – was evidence against sexism in comedy.

Why is a position that is pro-women in comedy seen by some as anti-men? More specifically, why are they so afraid of our success? And how does that impact women trying to break into the industry?

Today, I live in the liberal bubble of LA, which makes me somewhat forget what it was like for my first two years in comedy, where I performed improv and stand up in Shanghai, China.

My first night performing, as I stood behind the curtain – shaking out my body to get rid of my nerves – I heard the white male comedian introduce me: "Speaking of boobs, here's Kristen Van Nest!"

As I walked into the limelight on stage and grabbed the mic, I stared out at an audience that had just been instructed to think about my private parts.

"I call them Big Papa and Biggie Smalls, same person, different sizes," I blurted out, not sure how to handle the uncomfortable situation I'd been put in. Honestly, I would prefer not to talk about my privates on stage.

Anyway, I'd won over the audience, which was an addictive rush of adrenaline, but started a journey into a very toxic environment.

If they say you're the average of the top 5 people you spend the most time with, doing open mics 4-5 nights a week is a doozy. At the open mic level, you have some really terrible people. They aspire to be Louis C.K. (maybe not anymore?), Dave Chappelle, the greats. And yet they see the greats do controversial content and think that as they are handed the mic, they are given the right to say the most terrible, terrible things.

"A woman wearing sexy clothes and not wanting to get raped is kind of like me taping dollar bills to my body and not expecting anyone to rob me," I distinctly remember a comedian saying one night. And the worst part? That joke KILLED. Sitting in the crowd, I watched the majority of people around me laugh. In some smaller comedy markets, the comedy that kills is pretty misogynistic.

With the comedy clubs owned by men, run by men, and predominantly promoting men, there were very few women I could look up to each night I performed or even talk to about what I was experiencing. No one looked like me, which made me even more so feel like I didn't belong.

When women won showcases or competitions, the male comedians would say it's because she was hot or that they "had to let a woman win". I felt alone, isolated, and discouraged. It was soul crushing.            

Luckily, I visited LA and took an intro improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade and had TWO Disney Princesses in my class (as in their full time job is playing a Princess at Disneyland). I will take a princess any day over a misogynist.

Spending the majority of your evenings with hateful people, often rooted in a fear of failure and a hatred of self, became quite a toxic environment – and, admittedly, I am one of the women who dropped out of stand up. Even today, when I get big laughs on stage, a voice in my head asks, "Is it because I'm a woman?" because that was drilled into me when I started out.

But don't worry, since then I still do comedy, write/act/direct, am a series regular on The Chunky Zeta on Amazon Prime, and am known for my funny characters on Instagram.

Those men didn't stop me from doing the craft I love. I also founded and run an international group for women comedy performers and am on an all-women house team at Upright Citizens Brigade.

Now that I post funny videos online, every day I have men who are complete strangers on the internet take time out of their day to write me that I'm not funny, ask if I'm pregnant (implying I'm fat), or even say they want to roofie me.

But, at least now I have created a separate environment where I can share articles with other women about the inequalities in our industry without men mansplaining how we should feel about them.

#MeToo happened, but we still have a long way to go.