This article was originally written for The Doll Rag and published online in November 2009. I thought I would re-post it here too, with a mild edit. Original article and comments can be found here.
Girls in comedy, hey?
This is one of those topics that I’m not always sure about discussing… Is it making a bigger issue out of it to bring it up or is it useful to bring it up…
In some ways, it’s almost (close) to being a non-issue to me. I have personally found that the Perth comedy scene is so supportive of everyone, whether you’re a girl, boy, puppet, alcoholic…or Britney Spears fan. We have a few good girls on the scene already, and more are signing up from time to time. Perth comedy is like a big family, even if there are the distant relatives that crash the gatherings quite often, and I feel included and love all the comedy kids and (I think) they love me too.
It’s not about me being a girl, and being funny. It’s about me being Bonnie, and being funny.
But then occasionally you do have to look at some of the facts..
FACT ONE – There are often line-ups with no girls.
And when there are girls on a line-up it’s noticeable. Not because there aren’t normally funny girls, but because there aren’t that many girls on the scene.
FACT TWO – Because of this it’s easier to identify the girls.
So of course if a girl does well on stage it’s noticeable, and she’ll be told
‘I don’t normally find girls funny, but I liked your stuff’
And if she does badly she won’t be told anything but people will leave whispering to each other
‘I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t find girls funny’
Actually they just found a comedian funny or not funny. Being a girl has nothing to do with it. I always think that the comments people make say a lot more about them (or the world they live in) than it does about the comedian. Note how I did not use the term ‘female comedian’ or ‘comedienne’.
FACT THREE – People make assumptions based on gender
Of course some people switch off as soon as they see a girl walk on stage.
Again, says more about them than it does about the comedian.
It’s only natural for everyone to be a little bit sexist about the whole thing. We make instant judgements on people every day. Why would standup be any different?
Standup comedy is relatively new in the world. In the days of Shakespearian theatre women weren’t allowed to perform and men would dress as women. Look how far we’ve come today.
I don’t think it’s a problem that there are a lack of women in comedy.
Ok I do.
But I think that it will only be a problem if there continues to be a lack of women on stage. But I predict that this will change over time as more and more girls see girls on stage and realise ‘hey I can probably do that’.
People who say they don’t like ‘female comedy’ have probably not seen that much comedy… or just some bad comedians…tampon jokes, period pieces… sure there are some terrible ‘female’ jokes out there. But they are equally matched with cock, sex and cum jokes from the boys.
Or boys simulating sex on stage (quite accurately). Puh-lease. Keep it in the bedroom boys. No-one wants to know how you swing your kit about, and if they do they’ll approach you after the show.
The thing is that (often) when a girl makes a bad joke you remember it, and if a boy does you don’t.
At an open mic room in Perth a load of comedians got up.. two of them destroyed (comedy term for doing really well), the MC killed (comedy term for doing really well) and everyone else died (comedy term for not getting any laughs and wanting to cut yourself when you get home)…
What I’m saying is
Eight guys died on stage.
One girl died on stage.
What everyone remembered was
The girl was terrible.
That the MC and other two boys were funny.
There is a load more I could say about all this.
Stories I could tell. Examples I could give. Books to write, movies to make, documentaries to pitch to the ABC.
But you know what, I just can’t be fucked.
I’d rather just be funny.