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Stand-up comics are weird

We’re kind of train-wreckish. I used to do stand-up. mostly at shows that featured women comics, but occasionally among mostly men. women are pretty thin on the ground in general in stand-up. which is odd, because we are WAY funnier than are men. Especially feminists. hilaaaarious, feminists are. yep. Aboriginal feminists ESPECIALLY. The shows i went to this weekend, though, the stand-up shows, were all white women, far as I could tell. So, you know, some of those women were a little less funny than others.

First off, i’ll tell ya, we’re all pretty predictable. Men who do stand-up ALWAYS talk about their penises. I only EVER heard one man in comedy do an entire set without once mentioning his willy. that was Irwin Barker. Oh wait, Brent Butt, he doesn’t usually refer to his penis either. Everyone else, though? yes. Maybe they’ve been doing comedy for twenty or thirty years or maybe for half an hour. They all of them talk about their cock.

as if it’s interesting.

Women, on the other hand, we rarely talk about our clitorises. Or vaginas, or fallopian tubes or labia or anything else south. We do sometimes talk about penises.

but in general, no. Our fall back for funny which is almost never funny, (much like the dick), is self-deprecation. We go on about how bitchy we are when we are pre-menstrual. We lament about how fat we are and how hard it is to lose weight. We talk about our ‘neurosis’, our strained relationships with our children or our mothers or our male friends (lovers or no) or our freakin’ body hair as if they are individual problems, not signs of our shared oppression.

It’s fucking maddening. I’ve been stepping back into the stand-up comedy world. and it’s like being rip van winkle awakening to an altered, but similar world. We have, apparently, moved on from Amazon Nation. I was at a show recently which featured comics who were gay or lesbian. or bisexual (which is just another word, far as I can figure, for women who once, long ago, had an affair with, kissed, flirted, or fantasized about flirting with or kissing or having an affair with, another woman. i could go on about this, but i won’t–this post is not about that). Anyhow, so i was the first comic on the show, which was fine with me–it’s the toughest spot, really, but also, it was good to get it over with so i could enjoy the rest of the show without being distracted by nervousness.

I talked some about how “douchebag” is a fine epithet to throw toward a dickhead male–douchebags being, as they are, useless, patriarchal inventions designed to promote feelings of inadequacy and self-disgust in women, and resulting in harm to women. The stuff douchebags are supposed to ‘clean’ are actually self-cleaning and they are SUPPOSED to smell that way. C’mon. I talked about how much FUN it is to be pre-menstrual, what a powerful time it is for women, how much I enjoy going to the gym, riding my bike, arguing with sexist dickhead douchebags when i’m pre-menstrual–yeayeayea! I talked a little about how much I love being a woman, and how glad i am that I made the decision, 25 years ago now, to become a lesbian (not gay. not queer. LESBIAN. all caps).

People laughed, they seemed to enjoy my humour. there was a dead spot when I talked about my true identity as an underwater mammal–but i have to work more on that bit, cause there’s some good stuff in there, it’s worked before, but that was three years ago. overall, a pretty good set, with lovingness about the wit, the curve, the shape and smell of woman-ness.

The compulsion to take ourselves down, or out, is strong. the pressure to conform, to squish ourselves down, to pick the hairs out of our bodies to better slip unnoticed between cracks and fissures, to keep our heads down and our shoulders rounded forward against the male gaze is great. Or, conversely, but not, to hold our heads high, to thrust our breasts forward as our best feature, to sway our hips and show how empowered we are by mens desire for us, to dance with poles and strut — to compete with other women, too–as if we were not being tugged by the invisible hand of the powerful (THE MAN. all caps) — this too–these two directions–either take up less space, or claim our spot as the most feminine, the most sexy, the most ‘ideal’–these are, apparently, our choices now. Where is the way to be a woman apart from what men want or expect us to be?

Not too much room for lesbians there. tried, i did, to carve out a small spot last night. Described a fight with a man in a car, as I was on a bicycle. I said, “he was apoplectic, his face huge and red and he spat as he screamed, ‘douchebagdouchebag’ over and over at me–as if i had touched a nerve, as if i was dangerous. I am.”

We are. Take up our share of space. let the hair grow. Let the aroma of our woman-ness fill the air around us. Every bit as nice as lilacs.

But dangerous.

god. When I made the decision to become a lesbian, the only married lesbians were those who had not yet divorced their husbands. now women are falling all over themselves to embrace this limiting patriarchal institution. ‘same sex marriage’. i don’t want the same. I want more. I want everyone to have enough. enough love, support, health care, money, faith, home, responsibility, play, work. enough. Marriage — state sanctioned, that is– only says The Man has you tied. Why can’t we agree among us to be committed to the well-being of others?  We can bear witness to our commitments to each other, we can hold each other up, we can be accountable, we can do much much better than squeeze ourselves into the narrow little spaces the patriarchy shows us are ours.

Change the world. Don’t try to fit. There is no space for us in this world. We have to make our own. And we can. PLUS–we can have fun doing it. Feel the love. Look up. Stand-up Comedy does not have to be pathetic, and comics, the funniest ones, I think, are not so much train wrecks as the forensic specialists who can look to the causes….(i think i need to work on that metaphor).

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

12 responses »

  1. Isn’t Brent Butt that guy from Corner Gas?

    “now women are falling all over themselves to embrace this limiting patriarchal institution. ‘same sex marriage’. ”

    Ohh I know right, it’s so annoying, people think that you’re homophobic if you oppose it, and yet none of them ever both to ask why. And if you explain how marriage is such an exploitative institution and slotting people into a fucked up culture isn’t actually going to change anything they look at you like you spoke in an alien language.

    Reply
    • yes, he’s from some tiny place in Saskatchewan, i forget where, but kind of near where my mom is from. Dad was also a Saskatchewan fella, but a bit further North. Anyhow. Brent’s a very funny guy; humble. That helps. and yea. that whole marriage thing–honestly, i get all twisted up about it. it’s NOT revolutionary, people, it’s fear – based, this rushing to the altar stuff. And do not trust The Man when he gives you “the right” to become institutionalized. ’cause The Man will take it away, or make it much worse for you somehow– jesus. we can do so much better. why don’t we? tsk.

      Reply
      • Aw swellington, Canada is one of the best countries in the world, I’d love to visit the north next time I go there. Corner Gas is one of the few comedies I can actually watch this day due to it’s seeming absence of womon-hating bullcrap.

        “And do not trust The Man when he gives you “the right” to become institutionalized. ’cause The Man will take it away, or make it much worse for you somehow– jesus. we can do so much better. why don’t we? tsk.”

        I know right, as soon as something becomes state-sanctioned, it should be constantly called into question. I think it was Anne Summers who wrote about how womyn are expected to slot into an existing, expedient and exploitative system which is all marriage as an institution is.

        Someone tried to tell me that the true meaning of marriage was love, and got all shirty when I explained it came from rape-abductions/trading womyn as property. Why people today have such a hard time grasping that, infuriates me.

        Are you Canadian also?

      • Yes, I am Canadian also. Even though I live on the West Coast, in Vancouver, I grew up in the Prairies, and found my voice there. I heard a woman on the radio say once, about learning to sing, and being from the prairies, “there is nothing stopping getting in the way of your voice” or something like that. but more poetical. It’s true, too. That big restless sky, that limitless horizon–there’s something about growing up there. anyhow. yes. you’re right, I like your Anne Summers, too.
        Think ya might get to Canada sometime? I know some radical feminists here…

  2. I hate watching male comedians. They nearly always do some woman-hating/penis-loving ‘jokes’ and much of their humour relies on being ‘edgy’ – i.e. laughing at and mocking those with less privilege than they have.

    I hate the way comedy is seen as a male thing. Women are not supposed to have a sense of humour, unless they are laughing at men’s jokes. If you are a woman and you can make a room full of people laugh, it definitely inspires male hostility.

    If you ever want to put up some vids of you in comedy action, that would be cooool!

    Reply
    • you got that right, TBL. There are so few places that are really safe for women to be funny, and comedy clubs are not among them. No wonder we’re ‘train wrecks’! I was just talking to a friend of mine about doing comedy, and we were lamenting the paucity of space for womens voices. but we’re both getting back into it, anyhow, ’cause when you can make a room full of people laugh, and not at the expense of the least powerful, there is more possibility for all of us.
      ah. the vids. yes. someday i will try to get that technology going…it’s a bit much for me at present. i need a 12 year old …

      Reply
      • Well I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to put a vid of yourself on your feminist blog!

        There are so few places that are really safe for women full stop. Being funny just draws attention to yourself and makes you a target of men’s hatefulness. So to go and stand up on a stage and try to make people laugh seems like an incredibly brave thing to do. I agree it is potentially transformative, too. 😀

      • Hi TBL, oh, it’s not worry about being a target that prevents me from posting a vid. it’s just technological inability, really. sometime, sometime i will, though. i’m a shameless audience-seeker….

  3. “Think ya might get to Canada sometime? I know some radical feminists here…”

    Goddess, I’ve been wanting to go back there since I left, it’s such a wonderful country. And poutine (sp?) was definitely one of the perks!

    Reply
  4. Hey I find going first at a stand up comedy gig is actually the best time!

    Maybe its my innate weirdness as an Octopus.

    But seriously, its when the audience is most eager, most keen and least cynical :-p

    Soz for ramblin’, just found your blog. Likey x

    Reply
    • mmm. thanks for your comment OH. Don’t think i agree with your assessment of audiences at stand-up, though. Some are, indeed, eager and keen, but I don’t think most are. it’s an interesting culture, to be sure. …

      Reply

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