By Danielle Grufferty
As a middle class woman with certain socially conservative sensibilities, I’m not too keen on my sisters talking about sex.
So I was disappointed to hear that it turns out, Amy Schumer, whose sketch show I enjoy, is one of those “sex comics”. For a minute I wondered if they meant “sexy” which of course, would be ok to write about (and she certainly is). Alas, apparently it’s about her material. Lauren Piester writing for Entertainment Online pleaded to women everywhere not to take their mothers after Schumer’s Live at the Apollo (not Hammersmith, the other one) debut at the weekend.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that women all of a sudden think they are funny – some of the more established ones are even doing jokes about feminism and the patriarchy. Word of advice ladies, just because you make some of your pals laugh, does not mean that you are cut out for the harsh ball-breaking world of stand-up comedy.
The open-mic scene, kind of like society in general, is fast becoming littered with mediocre women comics – just the other night there were three of us in a line-up of fourteen. We’re in real and present danger of having as many mediocre women on the scene as there are mediocre men. True equality some might say?
All-women line-ups like the one recently at G&B comedy in Canning Town, and moves to set-up a woman’s booking agency are nothing short of social engineering. If women want to get booked they just have to be funny yeah? Like the lads are.
Just look at parliament, all-male shortlists went on for 800 years, now women are calling for all-women ones? The bloody cheek. And don’t get me started on the Women’s Equality Party.
First will come the amateur women comediennes (some may say using women renders the comedienne part futile, I say to them; whatever).
Then come the feminist ones. Then the sexy ones (who we know are never funny). Then just the sex ones. Soon women comics won’t just be doing sex jokes, like sex comic Schumer, they’ll be having sex right on stage. And it won’t just be straight Biblically-endorsed sex with a man, it will be probably be sinful lesbian sex too.
I have nothing really against women comics being feminists and doing women’s equality “jokes”, I merely ask that they refrain from doing filth. I like my feminists butch, in jeans, with unshaven legs. Women comics should be strong independent women – they should avoid sarcasm and/or self-deprecation. We’re women bitch please, we have to stay strong because there’s nothing we cannot do!
Furthermore women comics should do their best to avoid giving irony a go, mainly because the lads are much better at it.
I used to like Sara Pascoe until she shat all over her sisters by channelling a ditzy blonde, making silly comments about how she solved the Great Page 3 Feminist Conundrum in a dream. Page 3 is far too serious an issue to be solving in your dreams love. There are those who argue Pascoe is in fact doing the opposite; subverting the ditzy blonde stereotype to critique society’s objectification of women. If she was, she should have made that more obvious. Like I say, women cannot do irony.
So with the rise of the feminist and sex comics, otherwise known as women with opinions, there comes the inevitable labelling. Comics like the politically-correct Pascoe and the sexy Schumer can and should draw inspiration from the greats in comedic history. Bernard Manning loved a good racist joke but did he let it define him? No. Jim Davidson loves a good sexist joke but while we all enjoyed his recent No Further Action tour, did we label him a “sexist comic”? Lord no! (I still just adore the fact he continues to stand as a delegate to Conservative Party conference).
Schumer should stop drawing attention to these labels and crying “sexism” at any constructive feedback she gets from the lads. They’re only trying to be helpful, being a sex comic is a very diplomatic way of saying that you should tone it down a bit love.
Perhaps she should try do something akin to Famous Quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting. She should talk more like a man.
I usually feel pretty good about myself. I know what I look like. You’d bang me, but you wouldn’t blog about it. You won’t be Twittering “You won’t believe who I’m inside.” It’s fine.
Said by a man:
I usually feel pretty good about myself. I know what I look like. You’d make sweet love to me, but you wouldn’t do a press release about it. You won’t be myspacing “You won’t believe who I’m having sexual intercourse with.” It’s fine, it would be weird if you did.
One time, I let a cab driver finger me.
Said by a man:
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I had some eye contact with a working-class cab driver. It was romantic, like forbidden love.
It doesn’t matter what you do ladies, every man is going to leave you for an Asian woman.
Said by a man:
A man would never say this. Schumer, you’re a disgrace.
Mary McNamara writing in the LA Times at the weekend argued that every female comedian is vaguely feminist because it is an industry still so dominated by men.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I started out on the open-mic scene, most acts and the vast majority of amateur open-mic nights have been grand. Of course the odd night, and the odd act can be a little laddy, with the occasional sexist “banter” – but come on this is society, I’ve come to expect it.
I’m grateful for all the feedback I have received as a comic starting out on the London open-mic scene. I try to go out of my way to get feedback and most is constructive – albeit the chap who told me on one of my single-figure gigs that “you either have it or you don’t” – was not something I could really work with.
But it’s the unsolicited feedback from the lads that I like the best. I have often been advised after a gig to “make it more obvious” when I am joking. While it may be valid (if unsolicited) feedback, and I’m well aware it may be something I need to do with some of my more provocative material, I do wonder; would a man get the same advice? Schumer is said to have toned down her material for years, for fear people would find it all a little too much. For my part, some of the best advice from comics (of all genders) I’ve had, is when they have told me to just go for it and commit to a line, and if people don’t get it, that’s ok – you can’t please all of the people all of the time (hey that rhymes).
There’s plenty of up and coming women comics on the scene shocking audiences with their outrageousness and innuendo, Stephanie Laing and Jo D’Arcy being just two that spring to mind – and I’ve yet to see a crowd not bloody love it. Some say that Schumer has pushed the limits of women’s sarcasm as well as women’s limits themselves. Well women shouldn’t be defined by their limits, and too often in the world, they are.
Women comics can be raunchy, provocative and unafraid of offending those who take themselves too seriously. To hijack a quote from Betty; Women of the world unite, you have nothing to lose when one entertains!