Annette Fagon

Annette Fagon

'We're still discriminated against'

Female comedians feel the prejudice

Prejudice against female stand-ups still rife in comedy, a panel of comics has claimed.

Janey Godley, Annette Fagon, Allyson Smith and Kerry Leigh all said they had directly experienced bigotry from promoters or audience members.

Speaking at the launch of Manchester’s Women In Comedy festival last night, Godley said that one weekly comedy club she checked listed only two female comics on their roster in three months.

She added: ‘When a guy dies on stage, nobody says anything, when a woman dies she represents every woman that's ever stood on stage. That does my head in, I'm not representing women, I'm me and everyone who gets on stage is a individual person.'

Canadian Allyson Smith recounted a story that will be familiar to a lot of stand-ups, in which a punter approached her after a gig to tell her: 'Oh you're so funny and normally I hate women comedians.'

She observed: 'You wouldn't say 'normally I hate black comics'.

Smith also noted that British comedy audiences were more male-dominated than back home.

Meanwhile, Godley told the audience of the Frog & Bucket that part of the problem was the way female comedians were presented on TV, largely fitting into the 'cakes, cats and cushions' material – whereas men were allowed to be more diverse.

And Fagon said that in one club, a promoter had told her to drop a joke featuring a smear test, despite it receiving a standing ovation, while a male comedian with a rape joke, which went down badly, was not given any such instruction.

The Women In Comedy festival itself sprung from the Laughing Cows Comedy club, which was set up by comic Hazel O'Keefe in 1998 in response to a male promoter telling her that he wouldn’t take the risk of putting two female acts on the same bill.

• The Women In Comedy festival runs at venues across Greater Manchester until October 27.

- by Marissa Burgess

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Published: 2 Oct 2013

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