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Danielle Ward: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Corry Shaw

Misogyny is making a comeback to a comedy circuit that once prized itself on its non-sexist ways but here – in one of two shows she is presenting on alternate nights at the Fringe – Danielle Ward begins her fight back.

After being told at 16 by a teacher that she could never be an astronaut because to do physics you had to be really, really clever Ward started noticing how vast the gender divide was. And, she asserts, still is.

‘Why’ she exclaims ‘is it only ever female MPs that have their looks commented upon?’, ‘why is the casual threatening sexual ‘banter’ laughed off by men as a joke?’ and the eternal and overworked question ‘why, oh why won’t the Loose Women just die’. Not the most original questions and Ward has nothing more to add comedically other than pointing out the ugliness of some male politicians.

But she is a great performer and very easy to watch. She has a gentle, confident manner  and is self assured enough to play the fool and to abandon the stereotypical tradition of a woman having to use sex to sell.  In fact she flies in the face of it mocking the brash, sexual observational humour of some of her male counterparts. – even if barking out her own version of ‘pussy lines’ (the gags male comics use to try to lure female fans into bed) to the delight of the lairy lads  down the front, who don’t seem to be typical students of feminism.  

They quieten somewhat when she reveals that women can also joke about poo and do in fact have a colon. Ward is unafraid to take us to some dark places and equally unafraid to make some painfully groan-worthy puns, her astonishingly bad (hopefully purposefully so) Ryan Gosling joke is even mentioned on her flyer.

There are side stories of killing mice for the Koreans – a topic which warrants a show on its own – watching a squirrel eating a bone, her failure as a foreign language teacher, her brother’s tendency to accidentally staple himself to things… but she always returns to the message of why life and work is different for women.

And it absolutely shouldn’t be, which is why her writing and performance would be better served ignoring The Guardian’s numerous assertions that women have it harder, ignoring the drunks in Jongleurs and in her own front row  tonight, and focusing her energy on writing a show that proves them all wrong, by  focusing her talent and passion on her hilarious stories that depend not on her gender, rather than constantly referring to the weighty feminist agenda that will be automatically dismissed by a lot of her audience.  

Review date: 6 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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