March 01, 2014

Comedy panels and the token female – why it’s still an issue

Comedy panels and the lack of women. For the year of 2014 which sounds all futuristic and stuff, it’s hard to believe that in this particular area of the media industry women are still NFI (not f**king invited).

As it’s a subject I’ve been following for some time, I found it very interesting indeed to stumble across this article today on the Guardian that read:

Danny Cohen, head of the BBC‘s television output, has promised viewers that the corporation will not make any more all-male comedy panel shows.”

It sounds great doesn’t it, to feminists all around the globe (me included) to think this is a great start to getting more females on these comedy panels that men currently hog each week.

Woohooo! Thanks so much! You let us play sport with you (sometimes) and now we can come to your comedy panels too! Too kind, gents, too kind.

However, call me a cynic, but it doesn’t really seem to address the problem. It sounds a bit ‘token’, a bit ‘gesture of goodwill’ – a bit ‘let’s just get one (woman) on there to shut the angry Twitter feminists up’. I think the bit that riled me up over the most was this bit from Cohen: “every episode recorded from now on will include at least one woman.” AT LEAST ONE WOMAN. This is a short-term fix yes – but plonking down a female comedian for purposes of a new ratio just sounds like a quick fire decision in a board room so that they can just get on with the show.

What people don’t seem to understand, is that it’s actually not that women want to be involved in every thing, all the time, it’s simply the freedomperception and equality of being able to have a choice to go on the show as much as we (women) should want to.

If there’s 8 men one week, that’s great! If there’s 3 girls 5 men another week that’s great! It shouldn’t be ground-breaking to have 8 women on week either! It’s not that we (women) are trying to ruin the men’s bachelor party, it’s just that we are all equal and men and women are both funny in different ways, so just pick the best combination of PEOPLE each week?

I recently watched an episode of 8 out of 10 cats with Dawn O’Porter as a guest (the new ratio, at least one woman!). Now I am a massive fan and she was a hoot – just brilliant – but there was still a weird tension with the male overshadowing her and even making a few snide comments. It was subtle, but it was definitely there. The air time on her was a lot less, which I know a lot of female viewers especially would have been disappointed about. I don’t think it’s about getting “at least one” on there, it’s to make it equal and make it more enjoyable for the viewer. To be honest I think just having one women with the rest of the panel as men it still incredibly sexist, because the woman’s voice will always be quieter if the men are shouting the loudest and spurring each other on. 

AND: if you can spare TWO seats on 8 out of 10 cats for JEDWARD, then you can bloody well shuffle over for some more female comedians.

It’s a weird one. But I wanted to put my two pence in. What are your thoughts?

No Responses

  1. GIRL I FEEL YOU. Or when the token female can’t get a joke in edgewise, and the men almost seem uncomfortable to have her there at all. Oy vey.

  2. Beth Gregory says:

    I’ve always thought this. I have always wondered why on earth on 8 of 10 cats there’s only ever been one woman. Literally, never more than one. It is shocking to think about that in 2014 there’s still so much gender inequality when it comes to comedy. I think it’s quite engrained though. My ex-boyfriend and a lot of male friends have this perception that female comedians are shit. They don’t think that maybe it’s because they relate to the men more, or that maybe they simply don’t have the time to appreciate them as they are almost seen as a ‘niche’ in the comedy circuit. I think the overall view of female comedians needs to change, and putting more females on comedy panel shows in general is the perfect start to addressing this.

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