A chap from The Green Party contacted me last week to offer me a 10 minute slot on a bill headlined by Alistair McGowan, for a Green Party fundraising event. I accepted, and we started exchanging e-mails to finalise details.
This morning, I received this -
I'm really sorry but I am going to have to withdraw our offer. It's nothing personal, I was asked if I could increase the diversity of comics on the night. So we've got a 63-year-old transexual comic instead of a second female artist. Sorry you have been usurped in this case for a transexual
I am a great admirer of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, especially the Appendix - on The Principles of Newspeak - which is why I have always been extremely opposed to so-called "positive discrimination". It is pure Orwellian Doublethink. There is no such thing as "positive" discrimination; it is simply discrimination... It is an attempt to prevent discrimination by discriminating... Pure Doublethink.
The Green Party has managed to mess up their gig - and their PR - on all fronts. They had a good female comic in Lindsay Sharman. They then bizarrely tried to make the bill more 'diverse' by getting rid of not one of the male comics but one of the two female comics on the bill. AND they managed to belittle the (extremely good) trans-sexual comic (whom I know and admire greatly) by treating her as if she is not a woman but a separate 'quota'.
As comic Karen O. Novak said, when hearing about this, the Green Party thought it had "achieved 'diversity' by replacing a white female comic with... a white female comic".
Comic Charmian Hughes said: "I think the Green Party insulted both comics! They insulted the trans-sexual comic even more than the person they cancelled! I think it was actually more insulting to her than to Lindsay!!!"
Women have it bad enough already without the Green Party muddying the waters.
Janey Godley, a superb comic and possibly the best all-round creative I have ever encountered, tells me: "There is a booker in northern England who won't have women on the bill... and I have had bookers say to me Sorry - We had a woman before and they were shit."
Comedian Kate Smurthwaite tells me: "A London promoter once said to me: I can't book you that week, Kate - I've already got Angie McEvoy on the bill and you're too similar. Anyone who has seen both our acts would know we are very different in terms of style and content. The only obvious thing we have in common is gender. Five minutes later, in the same conversation, the promoter said: I do want to book you, though, cos I think you're really pretty - Do you want to come for a drink with me?"
Comedian Laura Lexx tells me: "I have been introduced as The very pretty young lady Laura Lexx, which obviously doesn't make an audience think particularly highly of you... but I very rarely gig on bills with other women outside of London so I suppose it often feels like it's a 'one in one out' system for ladies and bills."
Kate Smurthwaite tells me: "I once saw a male promoter say, as a female comic left the stage: I normally kiss the female acts, but I won't kiss her. Then he said: If you want to drink alcohol, use the bar downstairs but (pointing at a busty woman in the front row) if you want to drink milk - ask her."
Lindsay Sharman tells me: "A West Country promoter once introduced me to the stage with I only gave her this gig cos I fucked her! (I certainly hadn't) and then mimed humping me from behind."
But the sexism is not even restricted to men. Another female comic said to me: "CSE, who book gigs for the British Army, rarely book women - maybe one every four years - and they have a sexist website where all the men hold mics and the women are sexy dancers - and it's women who run it!"
Lindsay Sharman used yesterday's Green Party PR own-goal as part of her comedy act last night. "But," she told me, "one of the other comics actually thought I was making it up, as the crassness of Sorry you have been usurped in this case for a transexual just sounds too unreal, like a shit punchline."
I guess it is a bit like writing fiction. Novelists have told me they can't write the actual truth because it's so utterly OTT no-one will believe it. People will only believe the truth if it is watered-down. In comedy, I think people have a tendency to believe the made-up bits if they are skilfully interwoven and think the real bits are made-up because they are just too incredible.
Like this case in point.
The Green Party 'diversifies' into comedy Newspeak & Doublethink over women.
You could not make it up.