Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Argh! And Another Thing...!!

Last night I went to bed angry about The Fix magazine's sexist "Top 50 acts to see at the Fringe" article. In the middle of the night I woke up screaming (quite quietly) having spun the list round in my head and realised something else. From their top 50 acts:

1) 99% white. Pat Monahan has an Iranian parent, other than that all acts and all members of all sketch acts listed were white.

2) I think 98% straight. Of course not everyone puts their sexual orientation on their flyer so I can't be certain but I think Simon Amstell is the only openly gay act listed. And no - out of three female acts they didn't manage to find a lesbian, although statistically that's not surprising.

3) 99.8% able-bodied. I am giving a teeny tiny credit to their choice of Simon Munnery who has problems using one of his hands.

4) 100% cissexual.

And this magazine has as the first word at the top left of the front cover "ALTERNATIVE". Alternative to what exactly? Alternative to equality, alternative to progress, alternative to open-minded?

Spit, spit, spit...

[To begin redressing the balance I have included a flyer from the brilliant Bethany Black - who describes herself as "Britain's favourite goth, lesbian, transsexual stand-up comedian" - you should go see her at the Underbelly soon. And come see my show too.]

Monday, August 24, 2009

OK, Who's Up For A Riot?

I am. There is a magazine about comedy that posits itself as "new" and "hip" called The Fix. Editor Harry Deansway offers us in this edition a run-down of the 50 best acts in Edinburgh, broken down into different categories, each with an explanatory subtitle. And here's who he picks...
Sketch comedy - This is where 2-6 people perform sketches, sometimes with music - 3 all-male groups and 2 mixed groups.
Stand-Up - You know what this is; one man, one microphone and some jokes - 6 men
Hot new talent - Impress friends and family by saying you saw them before they were famous - 6 men
Musical comedy and character acts - Hey, who are these crazy characters???????? - 5 men, one male double-act and one mixed double act
Acts The Fix owes money to - We especially encourage you to see these acts, if for no other reason than to ease the guilt we feel - one man and one all-male sketch group
Modern - Hey man, that comedian just plugged a projector up his arse! You've got to go see this! - 8 men
Veterans - They'll be dead soon, or too rich to come up to Edinburgh any more - 7 men
Women - Well, you've got to let them have a go, haven't you? - 2 women and one female double-act
Something a bit different - Not interested in hearing a man talk for an hour about how small his penis is and why his girlfriend left him? Try some of this weird shit - 5 men
I'm not making this up - it starts on page 37 here.
Of course you may tell me that the comments are intended to be an ironic joke but it's having a direct impact on the careers of women at the fringe. I have had copies of this magazine thrust into my hands several times in the last few days and like most people will have done I flicked through and had I been in a position to visit shows I might well have taken a recommendation or two out of there without noticing that only 6% of recommendations are female acts and a further 6% are mixed groups. I don't know exactly the breakdown of shows by performer gender but I'm pretty sure that's not a fair representation. So female acts are going to be getting less audience as a direct result of his noxious "joke".
Actually if you read more of the mag it's loaded with misogyny. The Editor's letter includes lines like this: "A comedian is the type of person who will say they are not having sex with your girlfriend whilst your mum is giving them a blowjob under the table. That's the sort of person we are dealing with - egomaniacs so mentally unstable that if they thought it was in the best interests of their "career", they would cut off their penis, stick it onto their forehead, and call themselves Dave The Amazing Dickhead." Which of course is supposed to be funny but is also clearly letting us all know that a comedian has a dick, not a vagina...
The mag also contains an advert for it's own online website (on p16 & 17 if you opened the link) with the slogan "NEW FIX WEB-SITE AT LAST ANOTHER REASON TO USE THE INTERNET" next to a "screenshot" of very graphic pornographic images of women.
Of course the magazine is funded by a ton of comedians buying adverts who desperately want to drag extra punters into their shows. The BBC is also an advertiser (p36) as are City Circle Coach Hire (p41), The Pleasance (p13) and Absolute Radio (p7).
I don't have a particular idea what I'm going to do, but please get in touch if you have any ideas, I really think after all the effort put into the female comics photo-shoot we can't let them get away with this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Please Make It Stop!

OK I love wildlife documentaries - I like watching the scenery and the amazing animals and learning more about the world. So when I saw a new one on BBC One I thought brilliant and couldn't wait to put it on. But "Wildest Dreams" isn't really a wildlife documentary. It's a reality show in which budding wildlife documentary makers are pitted against each other in a pathetic attempt to create drama and tension and win a job making wildlife documentaries at the BBC.
Seriously I've had it on for ages and I've seen about 2 minutes of footage of wildlife and 30 minutes of people sat around a dessert oasis on camping chairs talking.
Worse still it's hosted by Nick Knowles. Why is he doing more and more stuff? He's really irritating - his idea of humour is cheap and uninteresting gags about the cliched "differences" between men versus women. He claims to do charitable work for anti-bullying charities (such as in the inappropriately-posed photo above - seriously, the two young women he is manhandling are in "act against bullying T-shirts) but then he treats the contestants on the show in a really manipulative and patronising manner.
And what exactly does he know about wildlife documentary-making? Why is he the "expert" dishing out the advice? If they had David Attenborough and Saba Douglas-Hamilton I'd at least think the show had some credibility.
This is STUPID. We do not need more reality shows and we do not need any more of that smarmy man. If we are paying a camera crew to go to Africa, they should film the sweeping savannah and the animals and the devastating impact of climate change, not Nick Knowles talking... Hire someone good and go out and make great wildlife films!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Political News From The Fringe

Posted over on The News At Kate blog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Are You Not Angry Enough Today?

Got that joys-of-srping feeling driving you round the bend. Need to psych yourself up for the day? Luckily The Male's own Liz Jones is on hand with her blow-by-blow account of how revoltingly women age.
To quote her: "if you are over 50 you shouldn't be smiling".
Angry enough yet? If not why not clear away any valuable crockery and read the whole thing?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tory Lessons

The Tories are proposing that school league tables should be adjusted to reflect the notion that some A-levels are "harder" than others. The subjects they think are hard are maths, further maths, physics and languages. Well I happen to have A-levels in exactly those things: maths, further maths, physics and French and I can tell you for free that they're not hard at all. Maths and physics are the kind of subjects that if you have a naturally logical brain you find very easy. I did much less work than my English-studying school mates. And French I found easy mostly because I'd spent several summers in France working before and during my A-levels.

If we really believe that some subjects are "easier" than others the solution (obviously) is to increase the curriculum for those subjects to level the playing field. As soon as we start to say that a maths A-level is somehow worth more than an English or geography A-level we are short-changing those students with a genuine desire to excel at English or geography. If the levels need resetting then fair enough - feel free to add to the syllabus for the supposedly "easy" subjects and reduce the workload for the harder ones but don't tell kids that their brilliance in art can never outshine their weakness in maths.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Old News, New To Me

Several weeks ago I had a call from a journalist at the Mirror who wanted to ask me about the culture of bonuses in the city. I had a chat with the guy and thought maybe he would use a quote or two. Then I forgot about it. Today however we had the fabulous Steve Parry along to be a panelist on The Comedy Manifesto (all info on my shows here) and he mentioned my "opinion piece" in the Mirror and said he was a bit jealous I'd had my own box right next to Vince Cable but thought I'd made some good points. Well they haven't exactly quoted what I said but the general gist is in line with what I meant and indeed I do make some good points...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That picture in full...

That would be eighty - yes eighty - female comics. And if you have very good eyesight you may be able to spot me - I am in black and hanging round the central pillar on the left. To the right of me (the other side of the pillar, with her hand pointing over her head) is Hannah George - who was on at the last Abortion Rights fundraiser we had and was recently the first person in the UK to graduate with a degree in stand-up comedy. To the left in a white top and blond hair, my good friend Rachel Anderson who is actually pointing at me to help you spot me!
I also had a lovely review of my show. If you'd like to read it have a look here.

But Really Though - Are Women Funny?

Yesterday morning I joined a 79 other female comics for one big photoshoot to hopefully put paid once and for all to the whole "Why don't women do comedy?" and "Why aren't women funny?" line of uninvestigative lazy journalism. It was a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Edinburgh Nights

By the way I'm not going to go on and on about my Edinburgh show on here. So I've set up a side-blog for me to ramble about that over here. If anything seems to be especially about women in the arts or whatever I'll cross post.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dangers of Drinking Too Much

A woman in Greece has been in court charged with setting fire to the genitals of a male British tourist who, she claims, had repeatedly sexually harrassed her - groping her bottom and breasts and exposing his genitals to her. Whatever the facts in this particular case it has to be said I find it very very easy to believe that male British tourists cause all sorts of unnecessary grief to local women in the countries they visit. It's sexism combined with racism and xenophobia, the patronising attitude that foreign women won't mind or won't make a fuss if you behave inappropriately to them.

When I have been out flyering for my comedy shows in Leicester Square (which for me was a quick way of boosting audience numbers if we were a bit low, but from the outside to the kind of idiot who assumes no woman could be a comedian, looks like a minimum wage dodgy cash-in-hand job likely to be filled by someone from overseas who doesn't speak much English) I would get a lot of harrassment. And a fair bit, though not all, of it would stop when the perpetrators realised I spoke English, and with a relatively middle class accent.

It's gross. It ties in nicely with the news that the Mayor of Riga is unhappy at the behaviour of British stag parties visiting his country.

Now three things:

1) If British stag parties insist on bringing what is essentially an out-of-control British tradition to countries where it is not welcome maybe these countries should return the favour and set up the Pamplona Bull Run at Old Trafford one Saturday!

2) Stag parties and the sort of stuff that is being described in the Greek case are really a sort of watered-down (in some cases not much watered-down) sexual tourism. If we keep allowing lap-dancing and table-dancing bars to proliferate in the UK and the problems of the underground but widely-tolerated prostitution industry are ignored it is only a matter of time before wealthy tourists from elsewhere will be piling to the UK to get their fix of sexism. And when we don't do anything about rape and sexual assault in the UK, the perpetrators are (a) still on the streets and (b) going to assume they can get away with it wherever they go.

3) Remember all the women-don't-drink-or-it's-your-own-fault-if-you're-raped adverts? And the ones where we were told if we let our friends get in an illegal minicab they'd defintely get raped and it would be our fault. In fact even two weeks ago ministers were warning that women going on holiday to Greece should drink less or ... you guessed it - they'd get raped. So where in the light of this new case are the Home Office paid-for posters warning men that if they get drunk abroad they should expect to have their genitals torched? Instead the guys parents - who were not there at the time - are quoted as saying the twenty-year old who was celebrating the last night of a two week five-lad holiday definitely didn't harrass anyone. Did anyone really expect his parents to say "He probably did it, he can be a right tit"?