08 February 2013
Kuala Lumpur is where I went for one nights work. That’s normal for a comedian, what’s not normal is trying to explain that you are a female comic to Muslim women from Saudi Arabia on the flight over to Malaysia.
I still get a slight shock at seeing women with black gloves, socks and every inch of flesh covered in black material. I find it fascinating and try not to stare and behave like an ignorant oaf, but part of my brain has so many questions…questions that I can’t ask for fear of being racist at best and disrespectful at worst. People remind me that the Koran does not require women to be covered and that it’s cultural and oppressive and other people explain that it’s a woman’s choice and she likes to show respect by covering her flesh outside the house. Either way I find it interesting but can’t speak about it without sounding creepy and offensive.
I was talking to these women on the flight and they asked me (through translation of the husband of one of them) what I did for a living and why I was going to Kuala Lumpur. When I said “stand up comedian” the man stared at me, shook his head….had a think and then spoke in Arabic to the women.
I think he must have said “this woman is half mermaid and has fins for arms” as the women all had shocked eyes and stared at me for ages. Then I stupidly mimed having a microphone at my mouth and wiggling my head about, miming stand up….which must have just resembled a mermaid giving head and they all looked away. They were disgusted/confused at me. I had hoped that man explained it properly, but he didn’t understand why a woman would do comedy so how could I expect him to communicate it correctly. Then one of the women who I discovered could speak English said “you speak on stage and get paid for it?” I nodded and she smiled and then she explained it to the other women, who weirdly looked more horrified and sad.
So after scaring the Muslim women with my mermaid porn career, I finally got off the plane and landed in KL, which by the way is so hot it feels like being followed about by a blow torch.
I left a snowy cold Scotland and landed in a damp humid busy city. I have to say the food in KL is amazing, I love, love, love Asian food and couldn’t wait to get a big bowl of noodles and some fish down my Glasgow throat.
I was doing a gig for the Selangor St Andrew’s Society Burns Night and the people there are so welcoming. They made me feel so at home and looked after me. The society members had an awesome Toast and Reply to the Lassie’s and their Pipe Band brought a tear to my eye and am not even patriotic.
It must be a weird life living as an Ex Pat, staying in a country and having to be part of a community of your own people or part of a society you don’t totally belong to….but they seemed to have found the balance. I couldn’t do it, I think it takes a certain person to adhere to certain social rules, whether it be in amongst the ex-pat community or in amongst the people of that country…either way it feels like a limbo life. I know what a limbo life is, as am always somewhere in the world looking in and yet never being a part of.
That’s what comedians do, we turn up, we go onstage, we walk through your streets, get to know your railways and airports very well and leave without feeling we belonged there in the first place.
I am a permanent Ex Pat…everywhere I go.
But to a few Saudi women, I am also a mermaid who does porn.
So thanks for reading, if you want follow me on twitter @JaneyGodley for updates.