Posted by: stelladuffy | December 20, 2011

where are the women? #996

We watched Alan Yentob’s absurdly bloke-heavy ‘Imagine‘ last night on The Art of Standup. Big sigh. Yes, there are more men in stand-up, in comedy generally. Yes, there have been plenty of theses advanced as to why. No, the Yentob programme neither addressed, nor acknowledged this – but nor did it include any of the wide array of women in comedy. Lovely, funny Shappi Khorsandi was in the 50 mins I watched (I missed the first 15) – but only Shappi and Sarah Silverman. I’m not at all sure I can be bothered to watch the second 65 minutes tonight to see if there are any others. Interestingly, there were a few Black and Asian comics featured, so clearly someone was making an effort to step outside the box of all-standups-are-white-men, just not quite far enough to include the women. Which is a shame given women aren’t actually a minority – you know, when we look at the population as a whole.
Blah blah blah. This kind of lazy journalism, this kind of these-are-the-people-I-know-so-this-is-who-I’ll-talk-to, was meant to have died out years ago. Died out with the old school tie and gentlemens’ clubs. And while we’re on lazy interviewing, how about the sad-clown and all-comedians-are-outsiders clichés? For goodness’ sake – there is no human being at all, ever, who has not at some point felt outside, as if they didn’t belong. It’s the human condition. It’s normal. If everyone who felt this became an artist of some sort, we’d all be artists. (Actually, I suspect we all are, it’s just that only some of us are noticed for it.)
Sigh. That’s more attention than it warranted already.
But as an attempt at redress, here’s a little list – PLEASE feel free to add your own, I’m sure I’ll miss plenty, not least because I rarely see comedy any more. But here goes, off the top of my head, a quick list of women who do/have done standup :
Jenny Eclair, Jo Brand, Joan Rivers, Josie Long, Jo Caulfield, Shazia Mirza, Sarah Millican, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnell, Lucy Porter, Laura Solon, Sandi Toksvig, Sally Holloway, Zoe Lyons, Miranda Hart, Bethany Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Victoria Wood, Gina Yashere, Wanda Sykes, Rita Rudner.
There. That took less than three minutes and no search engine. (Where DO they get researchers these days??!!)

(And quick mention for the woman who was more falling down than standing up and still more glorious for it : Lucille Ball.)


  1. Sara Pascoe and Jessica Fostekew x

  2. Jenny McNulty, Kate Clinton, Vicky Shaw, Bridget Mcmanus, Julie Goldman.

  3. So agree about the men thing. Listened to Today this morning for 30 minutes before hearing a woman’s voice -momentarily!
    As for the list, I heard Marti Caine on radio 4 extra this week; I had forgotten just how talented she was.

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