I’m a girl comic. A woman stand-up. A chick comedian. A comedienne. Big whoop.
It was inevitable that I’d get around to writing about this, although I’ve been putting it off, because it seems an over-discussed and hyper-analyzed subject; but a number of things happened these past few weeks that prompted me to address the darned thing. Which in itself, irks me. I think I can say, with some degree of certainty, that it would never enter a guy comic’s mind to explore the idea of what it’s like to be a man doing comedy. Because no one ever brings it up. Comic = guy. And when I say guy, I mean young white guy. ‘Cause if you’re NOT a young white guy, you’re an anomaly. Even the non-white guys are still young and guys for the most part. (I should totally find a thesaurus and find an alternate word to “guy”, I know…).
I think it would be safe to say that girl comics are out-numbered 20-1 to guys. A statistic which I made up right now (a skill I recently picked up from Scott Harris). And those are just the girls doing the circuit in Toronto. Of the pros working, making money in
Canada – maybe 100-1. Again, made up – but it works for me. Non-white girl comics, erm, I dunno, 500-1. I really don’t know the whys – it probably has something to do with the fact that funny women have long been regarded as the sidekick to the beautiful, desirable women, both in Hollywood and in life. Only in the last decade or so, has it been okay to be funny and desirable. But it’s still a looong battle. Because frankly, all we want is to be a comic. No frickin’ adjectives.
So here are the things that happened to me recently. Did a wonderful show at the Staircase Theatre in Hamilton called “Full Bawdy Comedy”. It was produced by the wonderful Shelley Marshall, and was an “all-women” show. There was stand-up, clown, burlesque, music, everything. A terrific show with great audiences. However, the audiences were primarily women, and a few husbands and boyfriends. There’s nothing wrong with that, but did the men stay away because it was an “all-girls” show? Methinks perhaps. As an aside, just about every man who DID come to the show, made a point of telling Shelley or someone else on the show how much they enjoyed it. I just wish they hadn’t seemed so bloody surprised.
The next week Shelley & I were booked to do an out-of-towner; I would MC/open, she would headline. Fine, awesome, good to go. Yet at the 11th hour (i.e. the night before), we find out that the booker has added a guy to the show, because he thinks it needed “a bit of testosterone”. Really?! Now, I’m all for comics getting work, I love this particular comic, but not in a million years, if two guys were booked for the gig would a producer think “we need more estrogen on this show, get Miss Funnypants on the phone!” The point being that Shelley and I had it under control, it would have been a great show without the dangly-bits.
Then I went down to Absolute Ottawa for a weekend of opening for the Doo Wops (super-wonderful weekend, thanks for asking) – but had one guy actually say to me “you were really funny, and not just for a girl comic, but for like, you know, a comic-comic”. Thank you for saying that, I appreciate you coming out, yadda, yadda, feck off. The next night, another man post-show, another “Wow, you were good. I’ve never seen a woman do stand up before”. Sad, sad, sad.
Then last night did another all-girls show. It had highs and lows, just like any night in any room in Toronto. So why, once again was the audience 80% women? I have no answers. And now that I’m started find I could go on and on about the subject. Partly because this is a big part of my life these days, though I also blame the fact that I had about 600 cups of coffee with Andrew today and am wired on caffeine.
For now, however I’ll end here, and perhaps address the subject again in a future column. But I’ll leave you with this – why can’t funny just be funny?