Sexism. Porn. Two words that are battered around like little exasperated shuttlecocks in the calamitous world of comedy. I often ask myself: would I rather watch a badminton game that lasted for several years or listen to a female comic questioned about her choice of profession again? Badminton. Badminton every time. And badminton's dull.
'What a hoot', the pestering journalists scream as they ask the female comic the age-old befuddlement once more: 'Why aren't there more women in comedy?!' Maybe because of that record you so desperately need to change, dear journalist? It's annoying enough that female comics need their gender to precede their job title, let alone having to talk about it all day long. Male nurses feel my pain. As do transgender truck-drivers, I assume.
I speak as one of the few females heavily involved with my university's comedy society. Only in its second year, it was founded by boys, moulded by boys and immediately carried to the depths of despair by... boys. I recently asked one of my fellow committee members - a boy - about the cast for our next improvised comedy show. He replied "x...y...and z, but only because z's a girl." Ah equality at last! Said no-one. This reverse prejudice struck me as just plain insulting. If the girl auditionee was weak, turn the girl away, just like you would an inadequate male. This here example is the root of the perpetual argument about whether women are in fact funny at all. Of course women are funny. Women are funny, men are funny, guinea pigs are funny but if you're letting the unfunny ones in then it's doing NOTHING for ANYONE. Least of all the guinea pigs.
When recently performing at a stand-up evening organised by the society, out of the eight performers I was the only female act. Fine, no problem, everyone had auditioned and was there on merit. Whilst I would have loved a bit more female solidarity, I had the upper hand didn't I? I didn't have to work so hard to stand out, right? I would be remembered no matter what? I was "the girl"?
Yet I found myself frantically attempting to diminish my dismissal as simply that: "the girl". I felt this outstanding pressure to in some way adequately represent womankind. We're wonderfully fucking complex of course, there is no way I could ever achieve this. What's more, it's a student comedy gig; no-one really gives a shit as long as they can drink. For feminism's sake however, as well as my own, I was careful to avoid topics that would dismiss me as 'comedienne' amongst my male peers. Yes I did mention PMS, but only once! Promise! No comparisons were made between cake and climax for example, or any lengthy descriptions of tampon trouble.
If only my fellow performers could have been quite so considerate. If you were in the mood for porn, you got it. If you weren't in the mood for porn, you got it anyway. In fact all we got was porn, porn...and more porn. Oh, and Greek porn: the only slight cultural detour from this very white, middle class, pubescent attempt at humour. You know when you say a word too many times it starts to get weird? Yeah, it got weird.
If the male 'comics' didn't talk about their own phallus (one of them attempted self-deprecation by referring to theirs as a superhero), they were talking about the practicality of other peni. It's as if this is the only way a lonely male student spends his time? What's more, it just wasn't funny. Much like their sex lives, laughter was lacking. Testosterone is a thing, yes, but it was the sheer monotony of this phallogocentric topic of conversation that drove me, amongst others (the audience) to despondency. A top ten University and this is what we're resigned to listen to on a Saturday night? The immaturity was embarrassing. Why is it that intelligent, witty boys STILL insist that laughter centres around their no-doubt inadequate member?!
The question remains: why was I so concerned about adding to the complexity of my set whilst my male peers were so clearly not? This male-dominated environment is just plain boring. We must rally against it. NO MORE PENIS, I will cry. We must wade our way through the pornography and penises to find a light at the end of this dry, infertile tunnel. Is it possible? I bloody hope so, but in the mean time, back to the badminton.