Women in Comedy in the UK:
I’ve always been an anglophile, have always thought British people were a little smarter and more sophisticated than we are. I assumed women comics are treated pretty well there, although I had only done one UK spot before, in 2013.
My first show in the UK in 2019 was stacked with funny, capable women, and it was great. On my second show, I noted that I was set up back to back with the only other woman on the bill. I made a joke backstage about how that wouldn’t happen in LA, because once we talk about our cats and our periods, what’s left?
The person I was talking to said oh really. Mistaking that for interest, I said yeah, Maria Bamford just sponsored a college study reviewing gender and ethnicity in club bookings. She found that women accounted for just 16% of the work, and heavily in hosting. The person I was talking to said, do you think there’s more than 16% of comics that are women? I turned to him and said, yes.
LA is home to great shows like Women Crush Wednesdays, L.A. WOMAN All Female Revue, and The Mermaid Comedy Hour that are incredibly strong and well-attended, but bookers still get asked- will you have enough funny women to fill the spots? And yeah, they do.
The person said in a huff, I don’t agree with women showcases. I don’t think they should exist. I think it should just be: comedy! Then, he got up and did his set about how he’s from this place and he’s like this, and his girlfriend is from this other place and she’s like that. And it wasn’t funny. It was, I learned the UK version of white people dance like this and black people dance like this.
I learned a lot. I learned that there are plenty of hacks in London, and I learned it’s important to support talented women.