Trigger Warning: This is a post about women and being funny and humour, of sorts. But it is not a post about why women are funny, how the comedy circuit is fiercely misogynistic, or an attempt to discredit people who think vagina-wielding-joke-tellers aren’t funny. It’s not even me waving my figurative cock around, trying to prove how funny I am and thus making my case for all of the above. I have no interest in that argument. I think it’s the cultural equivalent of the alien conspiracy. You have one side waiting agitatedly with radios and telescopes, screaming like banshees every time a crop circle appears. Then you have the other side, closing their eyes and putting their fingers in their ears - the whole time scoffing at the other lot because they wear anoraks and play with metal detectors. What we should really be doing - assuming that, as women who are funny, we’re the anorak donning evangelists - is sitting back, opening a beer, turning the radios off and quietly waiting for the day that the non-believers stumble across a crop circle of their own accord and let it freak them the fuck out.
If you ask me what my dream is, prior to about 8 whiskies, I will tell you that it’s to write books. Which it is. I decided I wanted to be an author the day I finished reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. My mum bought the original trilogy for me, probably as a passive aggressive nod to my impending attitude problem. I loved them. Sue Townsend had changed the course of my future (I’d probably have ended up being doing something, you know, worthwhile. But still, what’s money when you’re-not-really-but-you-are-a-little-bit living your dream?) Turning over the final page I thought to myself “that was really funny. But I’m funnier.” As I got older and continued to get the Adrian Mole installments for Christmas; The Wilderness Years, The Balding Years - while my prepubescent ego diminished, the idea that Adrian would have been that bit more drôle, had he been a woman, never did.
But humans aren’t absolute beings, and tangents aside, if you ask me what my dream is post 8 whiskies, a few shots later and when I’m positive you’re not interested in having sex with me, I’ll be more honest. I have, for as long as I can remember, loved to make people laugh.
I want to see women doing their own thing, writing their own shows, getting stuck in.
The thing is, as someone who likes being The Funny One, shouldn’t a career where I stand up and tell jokes be my modus operandi? Nuh-uh. No thanks. And not because I’m frightened of not being laughed at, I’m that arrogant about my ability to make people titter that when I get odd looks following a punch line I automatically think: “ah, wrong crowd” not: “oh, I’m an embarrassment”.
I don’t want to do stand up because, well I don’t particularly enjoy it when I’m in the audience. I can think of dozens of funny women; Amanda McKittrick Ros, Julia Davis, Jane Bussman, Alison Bechdale, Laurie Notaro, Paige Braddock, Kate Beaton, Rae Earl (I’m sorry, I know the show’s over but COME ON. The real Miss Earl is the very definition of hilar). Notice anything about these lasses? Not one of them is a comedian. Because mainstream stand up isn’t the omnipotent measure of what’s funny.
For me, stand up comedy is really not indicative of anything other than who’s managed to get their mug on TV. Mock The Weak (kudos to my funny friend for coining that one) leaves me feeling a bit... dirty. I do chuckle occasionally, but for the most part it feels like a posh EDL meeting. Taking the piss out of everyone in order to thinly veil the fact that you’re racist, sexist and homophobic? No ta. And when the lack of lady faces on panel shows like MTW is beheld as some sort of cultural misgiving I want to cry. I don’t want to see women getting in on the shit that really should have died a death several series back. I want to see women doing their own thing, writing their own shows, getting stuck in.
I never really like the way comedians are packaged either. Particularly the female ones. You can’t be too sexy, you can’t be too likeable, you can’t joke about anything too girly and you have to have a back-story about being fat and unpopular as a kid and you got into comedy because you weren’t one of the slutty girls. Well I could have been sluttier. I could have been geekier. There’s not much I can do about my face but I’m almost certain it doesn’t turn anyone’s stomach. I just caught on at an early age that, when you make people laugh, they come back for more. Which doesn’t mean to say I don’t rely on self-deprecation for my gags (an all too common criticism of female comedians), I do, but not because I’m so pathetic I have to laugh at myself. I like to think I’m strong enough to laugh at myself when I’ve acted like a complete and utter prick-twat.
My friends and loved ones have been putting up with my comic stylings for years. They pray for the day that I start telling my jokes in a professional capacity, in the vain hope that I’ll shut up at parties. There’s only so many times you can smile politely when I tell everyone in the room about the time I met someone off Dating In The Dark* on a train, which ended up with her telling me off for watching a shit programme - the girl who was in an episode of a shit programme. It’s not so much an anecdote, but further evidence that I really don’t have it in me; when you’re out-witted by a reality TV starlet it’s time to re-evaluate your self professed talents.
I’d like to see more women in everything, because we’re spectacular. But lets not get our knickers in a twist when they don’t manage to pierce the impenetrable armour of the old boys’ club. Because the old boys’ club isn’t funny, and it never was.
*For anyone who hasn’t seen Dating In The Dark - don’t bother. The bird was right to mock me, at least she got 500 quid for going on it. I lost an hour of my life.