Women in Comedy

Posted on 01 April 2009

This Friday I will be taking off for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Jeez Louise Funny Women’s Forum. Jeez Louise includes a bunch of workshops, forums, panels, and performances…plus loads of networking.

I have to admit that I don’t often join “women’s events”. I just make sure women (or at least me) are represented in all sorts of events and activities that may traditionally be dominated by men.

I’m a geek chick and I would have to say I always felt welcome at computer events, D&D games, scifi conventions, etc. And not because the guys are desperate! Geek culture doesn’t tend to push women out, but culture at large doesn’t encourage women to join the geeks.

I have to admit that I was expecting a similar geek culture with the comedians and some of it is there. The younger performers are the sweetest bunch of guys. One of these days I think it would be fun for Big Al and I to do a comedy routine together: 1) because we do a great job riffing off each other backstage and 2) because he’s, well, BIG and I’m, well, itsy-bitsy. However, the older performers and some of the older venues are into put-down humour. We then get into the issues of who gets to put-down whom and how tolerant a venue is in allowing a woman to be on top looking down. But for heaven’s sake, that’s not the only kind of humour that exists on this Earth.

I competed in the Adelaide heat of this year’s Raw Comedy Competition. I found it interesting that even the newspaper commented on the fact that not a single woman made it to the finals. Was it because a lack of quality performances from women? A lack of women? A lack of judges who were receptive to the style of humor coming from women? I don’t know.

I was the only woman performing in my heat. I had laughs for all the jokes in my routine (yay!), but it also wasn’t standard stand-up style. I will say Craig Egan, organiser of several Adelaide comedy venues including the one for this event, has always been gorgeously supportive of my development as a comedian. Also, women have won this event in Adelaide every other year for the last several years.

So anyway, I feel the women in comedy probably do need to network, do need to support one another, and do need to start some venues ourselves that reflect the sort of humour we enjoy without being exclusive of anyone.  I look forward to coming back from my forum with tales of daring doo-doo.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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