What's new with Janey
03 March 2007

Are Women Funny?

The eternal comedy question arises.

When a woman walks on stage she knows that the majority of the audience are not convinced she is funny and has to hit them straight away with a joke to get them to relax and trust her, where as men are assumed funny the minute they walk on and hold a microphone, they are allowed their time to get into their stride.

Having been a stand up for ten years now, I realised I never had any female role models in comedy. There weren’t that many female Scottish comics around when I started out and wee Jimmy Krankie doesn’t count.

My hero’s of comedy were Jerry Sadowitz and Billy Connolly.
So my type of comedy was never female orientated, I was hard core right from the start.
I was told by promoters that I was too strong and scary, so I had to tone it down as no one wants to be over whelmed by a woman.
So I started talking about personal issues, my past and my own take on life. I don’t do gags, my comedy is more in the story telling style and connecting with an audience.

Dealing with hecklers can be a double edged sword coming from a female.

If you are too clever, the insults keep coming as a punter is determined to win the shout, or worse, if a man heckles and you put him down his girlfriend will snarl at you as she doesn’t get to speak to him like that…so why should you?

No one really likes a smart mouthed woman, not even other females!

Women can be political commentators, social observers and incredibly good satirists; we don’t all talk about tampons.

Female comics storm clubs up and down the UK regularly, though we do get accused of “Too much information about wombs” and “Please not the child birthing jokes”

Why aren’t we allowed to talk about such topics when men can bang on about masturbation till we all want to poke our eyes out with a blunt spoon?
Men can do whole sets about child birth, placenta and women’s toilet parts but even though this is our domain we are encouraged not to talk about it, leave it to the boys!

I love going onstage and talking about subjects that confound the stereo types of female comedy. I make jokes about murder, violence and gangsters. Trust me there is comedy material right there, you just have to use the language and timing to unfold a story properly and let the audience guide you to where the line cannot be crossed.
Usually with a good comedy audience, there is no line that can be crossed and laughter, tragedy and comedy can be explored and enjoyed with a bunch of strangers in a wee dark room.

Still being a woman in stand up has its downsides.
Many times I have gotten into conversations with cab drivers as they have dropped me off at clubs, on hearing that I am stand up comic they mostly say “I don’t like it when women swear and talk about sex, you don’t do that do you? That’s for the men to do” and I often sit there and muse on his words and say back to them “Shut up and drive the cab, I hate it when taxi drivers assume I am from the Victorian Era and my comedy act is based around my wonderful parlour skills, a ditty about my new hat and a song about a yellow canary”

Women can swear, get down and dirty, be sensitive, procrastinate, debate, joke and look honestly at life without being vulgar.
Comedy timing and the use of communication makes all the difference.

I never actually knew I was a female comedian till I went to London and they announced me as “She is a woman and from Scotland” I was just a stand up comic in Scotland my sex was never seen as an issue, barrier or hindrance.

We rarely see an all female line up in a mainstream comedy club; these nights are usually a novelty with the tag ‘Girls night’ as a feature.
Yet many comedy clubs regularly have four male comics on and the show isn’t presented as ‘Boys Night Out’, that’s just called a comedy gig.

Some clubs are still reticent about putting on more than two women on the same bill; maybe the smell of ovaries is too overwhelming for some audiences.

So yes women are funny, they have always been funny and we will raise the bar when it comes to talking about the stuff that matters. The boys can have the masturbation material, the childbirth and period jokes…I want to talk about how my mammy got a light bulb out of an Alsatians Dogs mouth by smacking it in the crotch with a snooker ball in her sock….its a funny story and there are no tampons in the punch line.

That’s exactly the kind of stuff I will be doing this coming week March 8th at Garage venue as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival, do come along and say hi please?
Then on March 9th my daughter Ashley and I will be doing our sketch show called Square Street at Blackfriars in Glasgow._