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Shouldn't We Be Putting Pressure On Channels To Diversify, Rather Than Diversifying Our Channels?

21/11/2016 01:13
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I've been doing stand-up comedy for seven years. Before those seven years I didn't even realise you could be a famous British stand-up comic. If you'd have asked 17-year-old me to name famous British comedians I would've struggled and said Lee Evans and that guy that wore the red funny hat.

That's because back then everything I knew about the world I got from TV and there weren't many stand-up comics on my TV.

Fast forward 10 years later and there still aren't that many stand-up comics on my TV! There's way more than before, but as a community we're still extremely underrepresented, with the great British public thinking that the comics on Live at The Apollo and the gleamingly white males on Have I Got News for You are pretty much all our beautiful scene has to offer.

It's not true; it's not even a little bit true. There is a diverse universe of comedy out there for everyone, but only a minute percentage of it makes it onto TV. The solution? Next Up, like Netflix for comics, aiming to showcase the comedians that television forgot.

My only problem with Next Up is that it feels a bit like second best to me. It feels like we're accepting that big TV channels and shows aren't representing us properly so instead we're doing their job for them and offering an alternative.

It's like if me, a young black female comic, realising that in my whole 27 years on this earth I have only ever seen three black female stand-up comics on TV (myself included) decided to make a black female comedy online service... It might be a great idea, a nice platform for all my black female comedy mates, but at the end of the day it doesn't add to the number of black female comics on TV.

Surely the big TV cheeses will feel less pressure to include unheard or overlooked comedy voices in their shows, if there's a place for them online instead.

But I could be wrong; this could indeed be the best thing to happen to the comedy scene since Dapper Laughs! (Honestly, he made people realise how hard being funny actually is.)

We may see this new wave of cool popular Next Up comedians take over and then all of sudden TV will seem out of touch, forcing them to catch up, think outside the box and maybe include two or three women on a panel show (one can only dream...).

I am quite sceptical about Next Up, but that's probably only because 2016's been such a catastrophic year and I'm effectively broken inside! But hey, it might just surprise everyone and change the scene for the better.

I for one am hoping it does - because lord knows if it's one thing American and the British comedy scene needs, it's change.

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