Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jenn's Thoughts: Dark and Dirty Female Comedians

Kate Davis
It's Sunday, which I love because I get to provide my thoughts on the subject of my choosing!  Today I will be tackling the subject of women performing dark and dirty comedy.  Before I do, let me take this opportunity (I never miss an opportunity) to remind you about The Shattered Ceiling Cabaret coming this Tuesday to celebrate International Women's Day.  This evening celebrates women through comedy, song, dance and other art forms.  Kate Davis is headlining and Martha Chaves is hosting, so a guaranteed night of fun, all while supporting Immigrant Women Services Ottawa!  If you have not purchased your tickets, do so today!

Back to our regular scheduled programming!

I am 36 years old and have been solidly doing comedy on New Talent nights etc. for about a year.  I do it for fun, as it is a nice outlet to my otherwise crazy life!  This is not my first time trying this drug they call stand-up comedy.  I first hit the stage at age 20, in the comedy mecca known as Saskatoon, SK.  They had no such thing as open mic's in toon town back then, so the only place to try comedy was on a weekend stage as the "local act" before the big names came out.  I tried it a few times, got some good laughs and kept doing it for six months or so.

Kenny Robinson
One night I was on stage with THE Kenny Robinson.  For those who do not know Robinson, he is a little on the dark and dirty side.  And by a little I mean he is to dark and dirty what Jesus is to religious folks.  I was trying some new material that night, some risque stuff myself!  As a 20 year old woman I only knew sex and female stuff, so I did a joke on masturbation and one about my period.  That was it, nothing overly gross, just referenced those two topics.  I went on, and bombed.  Robinson then comes on and does some great jokes about grandparents having sex and shit stained facecloths, and is a hit.

Robinson told me after the show that my jokes were good, but if you were going to be dirty, you have to stand up and be more confident, take no prisoners, and eff the world.  The club manager also talked to me after the show.  He told me if I ever did jokes like that again I could not come back on stage.  He said that no one wants to hear a woman talk like that.  Be a good woman and don't mention you masturbate, it grosses the men out.  Seriously, that is what he said.

I was mortified!  As an impressionable young woman with low self-esteem to start, I stopped comedy right then and there.  I could endure the hit or miss of being on stage, but I knew I would continue to obsess and doubt everything I knew right from that minute forward, and never be confident on the stage.  I now look back and think "WTF??  The fact a woman admits to masturbation was too much for him, but a man talking about ANYTHING is okay?"   Thus my interest in this topic.

Kathleen McGee
Fast forward 16 years, and I assume things have changed.  I go to the clubs and see women talking about anything, and no one thinks twice.  Or do they?  I will stop to admit here I am personally not a huge fan of very dark and dirty comedy.  I love the comedians and love their jokes, but sometimes I just remember I am old and don't even know what they are talking about.  I had this instance when I saw three fabulous females: Claire Brosseau, Christina Walkinshaw, and Kathleen McGee on separate occasions.  They are all beautiful, strong women who perform comedy ranging from slightly dirty, to unfiltered 'anything goes' comedy.  I feel I need a sexual thesaurus at times when watching them.  They have strong personalities, and are no dirtier than almost any of the men out there.  but they receive more flack than any man ever will have to about being dirty.

I can't tell you, as someone who watches comedy a lot, how many penis jokes I have heard.  There is no territory untouched on this subject, men sure like to talk about their junk.  These gals come out and talk about their vagina's (in detail at times) and audiences pause a bit.  Is this appropriate?  Especially they are such nice young women.....this isn't' really "lady like".

Claire Brosseau
Brosseau recently wrote an article for her blog.  When you enter the blog there is a warning that there is strong language and sexual content.  It is one of the best articles I have read.  It was funny, erotic, and to be honest, I was a little warmer and had to go "hug" my husband after reading it!  I was surprised to hear she had received hate mail about how crass she is and how much she sucks for writing this kind of "filth".  If you don't like it, don't read it folks!

I admire women like these who go out there and do their thing.  While comedy for females has advanced much since that fateful day 16 years ago, it is clear that women today still have their struggles with gender stereotypes.  The question today should not be whether or not women should be doing dirty comedy, the question should be what your personal tastes are.  If you like dirty and dark comedy, it should NOT matter what gender the comedian is.  Funny is funny, whether man or woman.  If you are going to be offended by McGee, Walkinshaw or Brousseau, then be equally offended by Rob Pue's 15 minute bit on feces, Aaron Berg's reference to 'rhymes with sock' rings, and Darren Frost's and Kenny Robinson's take on anything they choose to talk about!  Be equal haters people, because once you start separating what is acceptable for a man vs. a woman to perform, you demonstrate that society still has a long way to go.  

All comedians should have equal opportunities to offend you.  If you don't like dirty comedy, don't watch any of these comedians.  They are all artists honing their craft, using their voice to make people laugh in the way they want to make people laugh.  Humour is subjective, but should never depend on the gender, and I applaud these women for going out there and performing the comedy THEY want to, regardless of society's expectations on acceptable discussions for women.

Equality:  It never sounded so crass.

Jennifer Hayward


claire elyse said...

love this post, but heads up: my name is spelled BROSSEAU. no biggie, just wanted to let you know! great piece! xox

JH5 said...

chit, will change it now! should never post before 6:00 a.m.!

April Maxina said...

Great post! Reminds me of a quote I need to live by, "What other people think about me is none of my business."