How can we make the comedy circuit safer? | Some suggestions from our survey

How can we make the comedy circuit safer?

Some suggestions from our survey

Not insisting women on open mic nights stay til the end as these nights can run longer. Also car shares should include driving back to door 

A locked social media group for survivors of harassment and abuse on the circuit to share details of acts and promoters responsible

Adopting buddy systems where acts check up on each other

All clubs should pay acts a fair whack and pay open mike acts a fiver so they can get an Uber.  I feel the worst for young acts who get exploited at bringer nights etc then stagger home into the night.

All comics blackballing abusive promoters and promoters blackballing all abusive comics. But that would require the kind of union that comics have never been able to achieve.

An independent body you could report to (part of Equity for example) as sometimes especially when you are starting out it can be hard to have confidence to challenge directly 

Ban comedians from your shows who use the internet to threaten/harass women 

Ban rape jokes, domestic violence jokes and sexist jokes. Encourage the male comedians to offer a lift to the woman, walk her to her car, or help pay her taxi fair. Paying £5 for a safe transport home is an excellent idea.

Ban abusive and dangerous hecklers or at least give ONE warning and then ban them if they repeat abuse. Male comedians are NOT allowed to heckle female comedians or make them uncomfortable in any situation, the men should be encouraged to speak up against sexist and abusive behaviour.

Being told who you're driving if you're designated driver and not losing the gig if you don't want to drive that person.  

Less gossip

Treating it like a job not like an unending party.

Stopping the ‘you know what they're like’ forgiveness of some known perpetrators. 

Better bouncers

Book more women. Don't constantly have us outnumbered on bills. Please.

Comedians, let's take on responsibility for content of our material. We go on about a rape culture so don't feed that culture, however ironically. We are communicators - we have an amazing opportunity to turn round the culture ourselves. People talk about not triggering victims in the audience, how about not triggering perpetrators who see their attitudes normalised and even mirrored in a rape joke, however 'unmeant' that joke was.

Comics need to err on the side of trusting other performers who make statements and in particular male comics need to believe women and treat those who act inappropriately with hostility rather than gigging with them or if the aggressor is a promoter/venue owner refuse to gig with them. 

Communication. Acts like myself need to speak up if we see things, even though we are not affected by it. 

Ensuring promoters put more than one female on open mic nights so we don't feel so isolated 

Female and young acts - offer a taxi to the station, let people know line-ups so possible car shares can be sorted, state if car shares available 

Get someone (e.g. friend of the organisers) to collect and return us to the nearest station so we don't have to walk in the dark to get a train.

Give end times to comics - you will be done by this time etc. when advertising gigs state whether the gig is near public transport. make sure acts get home safe, provide taxis when necessary if you're not paying the act.

Grassroots efforts have been made name and shame promoters reported to have raped/sexually assaulted female comedians as they have threatened legal action if the survivors speak out about it.

Have a code of conduct in place at venues/comedy clubs and make all acts, venue staff and audience members aware of it. Have a designated person that anyone who feels unsafe can go to.

A collective action and fund is helpful. I do like the £5 help. Personally it wouldn't help me - but that doesn't mean that promoters shouldn't think about the consequences of their evenings. 

Even at open mic level - the amount of open mics I've seen that finish at all sorts of hours - after 11pm etc when public transport is just about to finish. That's not good enough. An open mic should finish around 10pm to give people time to make use of public transport etc with less need for hanging around late at stations or bus shelters. 

I suspect that the comedy industry has exactly the same proportion of ‘men behaving badly’ as any other industry. What can make it seem worse if you are on the receiving end of it is that you are often the only female around, you’re already fighting a battle as a woman in comedy (separate subject) and you don’t want to show any weakness.  The place I feel most unsafe is regularly on the way home. This is a societal problem not one confined to comedy, that a woman travelling alone (particularly late at night) attracts a horrid amount of unwanted and threatening behaviour.

I think it would have to start by being more inclusive of women and people of colour. I think the fact that most places are run by white men and will have lineups with a majority of white men on it is a part of the problem, as at those gigs it doesn’t feel like we are able to address such issues. 

I think the ‘are you okay to get home' idea is great. Promoters and comics should be asking this of anyone they think may be in a vulnerable position.

If stags or hens ARRIVE drunk don't let them in.

If you can pay your headliner and opener, you can spare a fiver/ tenner for open spots to get home safe. 

Promoters check if acts need to/can carshare.

Less overreacting to small problems and stronger punishment for proven issues

Let any woman who is going home alone and on the bill alone leave early from the gig, even if it's a new material 'stayer' just let her go on early and go home.  

Have a reporting mechanism that isn't the police or Facebook.  I've felt threatened, or had verbal abuse and there's very little you can do about it if it isn't extreme.  

Maybe a Trip Advisor type website that allows comedians the ability to leave reviews for gigs on safety, hospitality etc

Maybe arrange cab vouchers instead of just giving money for transport. That way people will be less inclined to keep the money and try to arrange other transport.

Racist, sexist and offensive material is openly tolerated in the open mic circuit as people ‘learning their trade’, it very rarely goes unpunished. As a woman, it can be really disconcerting to have to sit and listen to a parade of men making jokes about rape or making sweeping misogynistic comments for cheap laughs. If promoters were more serious about this kind of material being unacceptable it would make me feel much safer being around these people off stage.

Same suggestions as all other workplaces. There needs to be mutual respect for one another. 

Stayer gigs - I always do stay but I live outside London and a 25 minute walk from the train station. I almost always get the last train home which gets to my station just before 1am - when the street lights are switched off. I do not feel safe. But I don't want to piss off promoters by leaving early. 

Stop enabling sexist/abusive/angry behaviour from people in power (professional comics, promoters, industry leaders, paying audience members, etc). Stop being passive. I don't want be GIVEN a "safe space". I want ALL space - especially that pertaining to my job - to  be safe. It's the minimum requirement.

Stop gigging for people we all know are wrong'uns. 

Stronger control on audience members, a dressing room should always be provided

Stronger links with Equity so that bad promoters can be blacklisted. Clubs treat abuse of comedians as banter, or don’t see us as staff. 

The culture of comedy nights is strange in that it combines the large drinking of night clubs with the environment of a performance. Whereas nightclubs (and bigger weekend clubs) will have security appropriate for those situations, a lot of smaller clubs simply can't afford to have that level of staffing, even though it's often the smaller, less organised clubs that face the biggest issues with unruly audiences or drunk strangers coming in. This reinforces a culture where there doesn't feel like there's any enforcement or repercussions, and it's not surprise that there's so many problems with safety, especially for those more vulnerable in our society.

The issues being I’ve read recently, appear to have happened at the hands of other comedians, either in shared accommodation during the Fringe, or in private residences, the morning after a gig. £5 for a taxi will not prevent this and it’s completely unreasonable to put this responsibility solely on the promoter.

We need a change of culture.  We need more than one female comic on every bill, we need women and people of colour to not be a 'tick box' - 'I've booked one, I don't need another'.  Comedy needs to stop looking like an exclusively straight, white, male environment.  Professional promoters need to step up.

When sending confirmation emails it will be useful if promoters mentioned where the nearest car parks (or tube/tram stops) are so routes can be checked in advance and walking alone can be limited.

Without a regulatory body it isn’t possible. And I don’t think comedy would actually benefit from a regulatory body. I think things would become a lot worse for women and minorities if that happened.

Men sorting their fucking shit out and getting with the fucking programme. I don't really have any suggestions. I'm inclined to think that the more talk of safeguarding bad behaviour, the less women will be booked in future, as we will become 'too risky’.

Published: 2 Aug 2018

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