Mock the Week and other matters of StateOctober 12th, 2011
WARNING. THIS BLOG CONTAINS BAD LANGUAGE, MILD FEMINISM AND REFERENCE TO SCOTTISH PEOPLE.
The women in comedy argument has recently reared it’s permed head again with regard to the diversity, or otherwise, on television with Mock the Week being singled out for criticism. To be honest the most annoying thing about the debate this time is that absolutely no one has asked my opinion on it. Seriously. I live for these arguments. I do nothing all day apart from watch hospital based soap operas, or documentaries about the police or customs officials in New Zealand. If people don’t ask me about women in comedy where else am I going to get my fix of martyrdom? I mean I’m not religious, I’m fine about my alternative lifestyle choices. If this carries on I’m going to have to become another minority to get attention. And there aren’t a lot left open to me.
Anyway. Now we’ve established that no one has asked me my opinion I’ll do what I always do. Bloody tell you what I think anyway. And by the way this is absolutely my final word on this matter. I do not want to speak to the Guardian, or the Telegraph about this. The Daily Mail yes. I have lots to say to them. Mostly involving the word “twats”. But this is it. After this I will say nothing else. Well unless I’m provoked. And to be fair it’s pretty easy to provoke me. Just dangle my 10 years of bootleg Casualty recordings over a cliff and I’ll climb over your corpse to save them.
So what are the issues?
- There aren’t enough women on panel shows like Mock the Week. The panel isn’t representative of society given that 100% of the population aren’t white middle class men.
This is true. Society is not entirely made up of men. I’ve personally seen a lot of women on the street. And a lot of people who aren’t white. However to suggest that one programme is guilty of a lack of representation is to ignore a wider issue. For example in Universities today far more women study law than men, yet at the top of the tree there are more men than women. If you consider the UK Supreme Court as the equivalent of Mock the Week, and they often do (little bit of satire for you) only one of the 9 judges is a woman. I don’t doubt that there are other women who would be cracking judges but for whatever reason they haven’t been appointed. The institutional sexism I encountered as a lawyer is far worse than anything I’ve encountered in comedy, partly because I was restricted in what I could say about it. To suggest that comedy is in some way different to what happens all over the world every day in every workplace is to suggest that comedy is in some way special. The truth is that under the clown costume it’s a job like any other.
I’m not saying it’s right and I’ll never stop trying to change it. But to quote Tina Fey (I do that a lot by the way)
“So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”
2. Women don’t do well on it, that’s why there aren’t more of them. They can’t cope with the testosterone fueled environment.
This is my favourite argument which I think is dealt with easily. Any female comic who does the circuit, specifically christmas gigs, can deal with any amount of testosterone. Whether they want to or not, that’s another matter. Too much testosterone is not a reason for not being funny. Not having jokes. That’s why people aren’t funny.
3. MTW has a responsibility to have a more diverse panel.
The first thing they have to do is make a funny show with funny people on it. A diverse panel does not, in itself, humour make – just look at Question Time. Yes MTW doesn’t reflect the comedy circuit but I don’t know if any comedy programme does. The sit coms and sketch shows on TV aren’t exactly awash with the correct quota of minorities, or even majorities. The fact that Mock the Week is seen as such a badge of honour is why it gets it in the neck. At the moment Rab C Nesbitt is the only high profile scottish comedy on Network TV. In fact it’s about the only Scottish Comedy that’s been on the network for years. Personally speaking I get more annoyed that I can’t see a Glasgow “Royle Family” on my TV than the weeks when there are no women on a panel show. If there have to be women on panel show does my tellybox have a responsibility to show an appropriate quota of Welsh, Irish and Scottish? Or when I switch on a comedy show should I simply laugh? The answer is yes. To everything.
(Edit – I know Tank Commander and Burnistoun have had national showings but as they were not originally Network and not Primetime I think my point still stands.)
4. It’s because women aren’t funny.
Bollocks and up your arse. Some people don’t like some women in comedy. Therefore they don’t like all women. But I can do no more than quote the God of comedy that is Tina Fey when writing about the constant articles written about whether women are funny.
“It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
Personally if someone asks me about it I send them away and tell them to watch Green Wing then come back and apologise.
People say women can’t be lawyers, doctors, policepeople, assistant referees. People will always say we can’t do things. It just means when we prove people wrong it’s even more satisfying. If you accept the word can’t then your as bad as the cunts that say it.
5. Women aren’t funny on Panel shows
News Quiz. End of argument.
6. Panel shows are everything
It may seem like that but people do watch other things. The radio is a wonderful way of getting your comedy out there as well. I find Radio 4 fabulous for supporting new comedy and new writers. Maybe think about switching off the TV and listening to the wireless for a bit. It’s pretty amazing.
7. It’s all good
It is you know! Everyone is absolutely fine. The more people talk about MTW the more people want to get on it. I’d like to do it as I would like to do many things. To get on something like Have I got News for You would be a dream come true. It’ll happen one day, and when it does I’ll hopefully have got there on merit rather than because of the incriminating photos I’ve obtained or because I’m a token women. I don’t like that phrase partly because it sounds like I’ve been won in a fun fair.
Of course all of this would be solved if the BBC or Channel 4 commissioned a panel show hosted by a woman. Perhaps a scottish one. Perhaps with the word “Calman” in the title.
Just an idea.
No one ask me about this again.
Please do. I have no friends.