Why I’m only seeing women at MICF

Photo by Sarah-Jane Edis from Funny Ladies panel at NYWF.

This year during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival I’m only going to see shows by women.

This isn’t really a big deal. I want to make a real effort to expose myself to as much female-orientated comedy as I can during this year’s festival. I wondered what it would be like to limit myself to female comics, to only see shows preformed by women. The idea intrigued me and I decided to give it a go. Simple.
I posted about this idea on Facebook a month or so ago to see what other people thought. A long, impassioned conversation thread emerged. Some people were fervently in favour of the idea, some questioned the project. What I found most bizarre were the people (and there was several of them) who messaged me privately because they had questions and were worried that they’d be called out if they commented publicly.
The whole thing just made me so exhausted. It isn’t a big deal. It’s about supporting the funny women that are out there are because I want to see more of them. In a perfect world, seeing only female comics wouldn’t be a statement. In a perfect world it would be possible to do it by accident.
I think it’s important to note I’m not doing this as a boycott. To be honest it isn’t even be some grand statement (although I understand that it could be taken as such). It’s about trying to address an issue I’ve faced over and over – that it’s really hard to see a lot of comedy without seeing a lot of male comedians.
I love comedy and I’d like to work in the industry again one day. When I do, it would be nice if I could do so in a workplace where I’m not the only woman. Prompted by the process of writing this article last year, I’ve spent a lot of time since thinking about women in comedy. I had the absolute pleasure of programming an amazing collection of funny women at NYWF last year in a panel that packed out the room and was a highlight of my life so far. I want to be able to champion these amazing women in any way that I can.

I care about this. But if I’m going to advocate for women in comedy (in my writing and in my programming) I need to educate myself as much as I can. That, more than anything else, is why I’m doing this.

  • I’m going to pay for as many tickets as I can. I want to financially support comics as much as my bank balance will allow. Having said, I work part time and I freelance so I’m not exactly rolling in the dollars. If you’re a comic or promoter who would like to support this project by inviting me to your show, I would love to come along. Get in touch.
  • I’m only going to recommend female comedians. This seems pretty obvious since all my favourite shows will invariably feature women but still, I made it a rule anyway.
  • I’d like to acknowledge that this is only one slice of the diversity apple. While my main focus is seeing women, I’m going to try and see as diverse a range of shows as possible.
  • In the case of group shows, showcases, panel shows (etc) I’ll only see the show if the gender split is equal or higher. It is looking like this means I won’t see many of these shows.
  • Last year I saw 52 shows. I am not going to beat that. This year I’d like to maybe sleep a bit and eat some vegetables because I’m practising being nice to myself. 
  • Come see some comedy with me. It’ll be fun.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year