Had I stood up in front of a group of people and recorded myself telling a hideously misogynist joke about burying my girlfriend alive, then made that footage available to the public. Well, if I was the type to equate balls with braveness I’d say the guy who came out as a misogynist comedian on Woman’s Hour yesterday morning must regularly use a wheelbarrow to cart his cojones about town. I’m serious, this guy might be the first guy to have a legitimate reason to take that entire seat on the bus with leg spread (kidding, INEXCUSABLE).
Jenni Murray is a big fan of comedy. You should catch her episode of I’ve Never Seen Star Wars with Marcus Brigstocke in which she damns comedian Frankie Boyle. Both Murray and Brigstocke agree Boyle’s bile was ill directed. Just as Dolan’s was, however Boyle and Dolan would probably both argue that off stage they are Nice Guys, Dolan told Murray and Jongleurs founder Maria Kempinska: “It hadn’t even occurred to me that anything I did could be misogynist.”
That is until Dolan read the review. “My initial reaction was that this was clearly wrong. The writer had brought an agenda to the review, she'd mapped her own paranoia onto an entirely inoffensive show” Dolan wrote in The Skinny. No matter how old skool you care to be about your comedy nobody wants a Manning comparison. Not even those who make Mother-in-Law jokes. Not even Jimmy Carr.
But here is the point where you have to admit grudging admiration for Mr Dolan. Instead of basking in his ‘edginess’ or dismissing the reviewer who had branded his comedy as misogynist, he sought out a feminist friend. Admittedly for vindication but when the feminist friend agreed with the reviewer Dolan actually listened.
nobody wants a Manning comparison. Not even those who make Mother-in-Law jokes. Not even Jimmy Carr.
There’s nothing funny about grouping an entire set of people together just because their genitals, or hair or skin colour match. I think men would tell you they tire of those hilarious cleaning product ads that labour under the impression all men are useless at basic hygiene. That’s not funny, if it’s true it’s sad. Sad and inconvenient. Lumping a vulnerable group together and laughing at them is at best lazy; at worst cruel.
Dolan took out the anecdote about fantasising about going all Tarantino on his girlfriend, in spite of the success he had had with it. Personally I find it odd that people find so much comedy and identification in the tragedy of staying in a miserable relationship. But Valentine’s Day is coming up so I suppose it’s zeigtgeisty.
Of course Dolan had no idea his material had been so anti women: “I don't consider myself a misogynist, but then I'm pretty sure most misogynists don't. That doesn't mean they don't hate the living shit out of all women, they just don't know that they do.” It would be interesting to know how many men would react if informed some of their bon mots were thoughtlessly misogynist.
Once, discussing our stand up material at university a male friend told me he had planned to make a joke about the smell women leave in the toilets during their period. I think it was supposed to focus on the assonance of ‘fish and shit’. I know, I hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you laughed yourself off your chair. Did I tell him the following; that his girlfriend either had an infection or needed to learn how to flush the chain; that it just demonstrated revulsion at women or that the joke wasn’t in any realm funny?
None of the above. I forced out a pathetic ‘heh’ of a laugh and said I didn’t think it would be received with quite the vigour he imagined. Because I wanted to be polite.
That was a few years ago, now I hope I would have the confidence to say something. I have heckled at comedy nights when the comedian has been offensive. Jongleurs founder Maria Kempinska mentioned that while she polices homophobia and racism in comedy, sexism is a ‘taboo’ that she allows to be explored, therefore it is up to the audience to shout when it goes too far.
It was noted women’s laughter could be heard in the recording of Dolan’s misogynist material. Kempinska explained: “women often go into comedy clubs because of their men” That is not true. To hear a woman founder of a very successful comedy club say women aren’t at a comedy club for love of comedy is hugely irritating. It increases the impression of comedy as a Boy’s Club when it isn’t. Dolan’s presence shows men are perfectly capable of listening and responding when called out.
What is troubling about this is the suggestion that the promoters, the club owners and the comedians… simply don’t think any women are there. In the audience. And if they are they don’t matter because they are there as sidekicks. That’s annoying because it’s not true, that’s troubling because it’s presented as a reason for the new flock of stand ups reaching for the misogyny.
There is incredibly rich fodder out there currently for us to be harpooning. This misogyny material is boring, predictable and so freaking done. Women! Get thee to a comedy club, get heckling, get laughs, get better comedy.
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