Monday, 24 January 2011

Women Aren't Funny? - You Can't Prove a Negative



On the way to work this morning I saw a giant poster for new topical comedy, The 10 O' Clock Show.

In the poster for this comedy show, there was funnyman Charlie Brooker, funnyman Jimmy Carr, funnyman David Mitchell, and...Lauren Laverne.

Lauren Laverne; occasional TV presenter.

If you're going to have a token female on a comedy show, why not at least have a token female comedian?

It's not like there's a lack of choice. There are countless brilliant female comics currently gracing the stand-up circuit. Have been for years.

But nobody believes they exist, precisely because nobody ever uses them.

And then comes the familiar chorus; "Women aren't funny...Channel 4 must have looked high and low for a funny woman and not been able to find one...name a female comedian other than Jo Brand, you won't be able to...you never see any on TV...if they were funny you'd have seen them, you'd have heard of them..."

It's the same argument that misogynists have used down the centuries to reinforce the idea that women are inferior; "What's a woman ever invented, eh?...all the biggest inventions have been by men...women can't be as intelligent as men, if they were, they would have, historically speaking, achieved more"

Conveniently forgetting that women were, for most of history, excluded from having an education and the resultant arenas of science, invention and literature.

It's hard to invent the telescope or discover gravity when you're not allowed to learn how to read.

Women in Ancient Greece weren't even allowed out of the house. Who knows, Plato's wife might have been feeding him his best ideas?

It's the same with comedy. Women don't get a platform, people conclude that this is because they don't deserve one, this idea becomes embedded, so women continue not to get a platform.

Repeat this process ad infinitum.

Once an idea is embedded, it's hard to shift it, even with positive proof.

The amount of times I came off stage during my time on the circuit, to be greeted by the words "That was good, for a woman. I don't like female comics, but you're alright"

Even though they'd seen a woman confound their prejudice, their prejudice remained in place.

Albeit it with the slightly weird caveat of 'except one woman who I saw with my own eyes but who must have been a freak of nature who fell into a vat of radioactive funny as a child'.

They're the opposite of racists who cite their one black friend. Racists do that to prove they're not racist. Misogynists weirdly use their one example to maintain their prejudice - "Ok, you've proved you're funny, but no other woman could conceivably be, I'll have to see them all individually"

Of course male comic after male comic can come out and die on their arse, but the audience's faith in men as natural comedians won't waver.

How very fair.

Remember when Charlotte Church won a best female comedy newcomer award?

As much as it upheld the myth, it wasn't proof that women aren't funny, it was proof that women aren't given the chance.

To beat women over the head with all the things they haven't had a chance to achieve adds insult to injury.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Resolutions

Well here we are. 2011.

The flying cars I was hoping for yesterday don't seem to have transpired yet, which is disappointing. Still I suppose it's only just gone lunch time...

And the constant bingo website adverts on TV don't seem to have abated either. So much for progress!

Anyway, to business. I don't tend to make New Year Resolutions. I strive for constant self-improvement; hence the perfection. Not like you oiks with your tokenistic gym subscriptions, discarded come February, and your Diversity off Britain's Got Talent Dance Fitness DVDs (yes really) that don't even make it out of the cellophane. Shame on you! So, in the spirit of helping the unwashed masses I thought I'd give you some ideas for easy, achievable New Year Resolutions that even you can't mess up.

(The preceding paragraph was a joke. I do not think I am better than you)

(I know I am)

(Again, a joke)

Right, here goes.

The first is a one off thing, that takes only a couple of minutes to do: If you haven't already, sign up as an organ donor.

Only 28% of Brits have joined the register. Pretty lame - even after you've accounted for all the religious types who are precluded from signing up because of...um...well, I actually don't know what the religious grounds are for doggedly refusing to help someone after your death. But I'm sure they're water tight and very logical. And I'm sure those same people would refuse a life saving transplant if they needed one. Nobody likes a hypocrite after all.

I've strayed off topic a bit. Ah yes, so, I know people don't like to think about their mortality, but putting it to the back of your mind doesn't make you an immortal, and you may need an organ one day - so sign up!

The second is to register with Easyfundraising. Then whenever you shop online you can earn a donation for the charity of your choice. There are loads of online retailers listed on the site and all you have do is go to their sites via Easyfundraising. Nothing complicated or onerous.

So far I've earned £120. £38 when I booked my holiday to Japan, £20 when I bought my sofa, and lots of little amounts whenever I buy odds and ends from Amazon and Ebay. Ebay donate a massive 20% of every sale. It's easy money, and it makes splurging so much more justifiable!

The third is to sign up with Everyclick, a charity search engine that donates 1p for every web search you make.

It's powered by Yahoo so the search results are not Google quality. The way to get the best out of Everyclick is to turn on your autofill and enter exact URLs or easy search terms (for sites like hotmail and bbc news), like so:

Click on the picture to maximise


Then when you want to search something complex, just go to Google via Everyclick. So far I've earned £978.

The fourth is to fill up your Everyclick autofill with the URLs of the following free charity clicks:

Care2 http://www.care2.com/click-to-donate/
Click to Give http://www.clicktogive.com/
Ecology Fund http://www.ecologyfund.com/ecology/_ecology.html
Greater Good http://greatergood.com/?utm_source=CTGtabs&utm_medium=TabLink&utm_campaign=TabBar
Land Care Niagra http://www.landcareniagara.com/
Ripple http://ripple.org/
Solve Poverty http://solvepoverty.com/
And there are many, many more free charity click sites listed here http://www.thenonprofits.com/

The fifth one (we're nearly there) is to regularly visit the Daily Action sections of the Greenpeace website and the Amnesty website, to see what E-Actions you can take, for free.

And finally, speaking of E-Actions, sign up to the BeMencap newsletter so that Mencap can email you with their E-Actions such as petitions, and emails you can send to your MP.

Then, you too, can be just like David Cameron with his ever so noble Big Society ideal..that somehow incorporates the destruction of people's jobs and lives.

Good luck this year everyone. We'll all need it.