Girls lack the balls for comedy

Lack of female comics is no joke

One of the key players in the Edinburgh Fringe has claimed there is a dire shortage of female stand-up talent - because women lack the drive to make it.

Mary Shields, associate director of the Assembly Rooms, has revived the long-standing debate about women in comedy with her comments to The Sunday Times.

She said: "I have felt there was a lack of edge and bite to the female acts, and I am sure others female programmers feel the same."

Only one of the 30 comedy acts playing at her venue this summer is female - Jackie Clune.

Shields says many female stand-ups form double acts to boost their confidence when dealing with unruly hecklers in the rowdier clubs.

But she added: "Two halfway-there acts put together do not make one good one. Pairing up seems to be a confidence thing.

"More of these lesser female acts [have been] coming through in recent years.

"Men possibly have more ego to carry through on their own - perhaps it shows that women are not as pushy and determined."

Jenny Eclair is the only woman to have won Edinburgh's Perrier award, and that was in 1995. Since then no woman has even made the shortlist.

She said: "Instead of being smug about it, I am getting depressed."

But she added that women are not prepared for the sometimes humiliating rough and tumble of the circuit to make it: "Some of the new women are only in it for the modelling and the glamour."

Published: 30 Jun 2002

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