Sexism in comedy + a cripple, a lesbian, two ethnic minorities and a spaceman

Copstick and Faulkner podcast at the Comedy Cafe Theatre

Copstick & Faulkner podcast at Comedy Cafe

Yesterday, I blogged an extract from the latest weekly Grouchy Club Podcast, in which Comedy Cafe Theatre owner Noel Faulkner talked about smuggling 4 tons of marijuana into the US.

In another part of the podcast, this subject came up:

“… and it’s the same with female comics,” said critic Kate Copstick, “They go up on stage and you can see the whole room going: Oh, fuck! It’s going to be tampons and ‘my boyfriend’. And then the comic has got to pull the room back and that is just the way things are. There’s an awful lot of them sit around moaning because there is a type of Oh no! feeling in the room at some clubs at some times. If you’re good, you pull it back and people go: Fantastic!

“But you,” I told Copstick, “notoriously don’t like female comics… it is said.”

“I don’t like bad comics,” argued Copstick.

“I agree with you,” said Noel Faulkner.

“I don’t like obvious comics,” Copstick continued. “Tim Renkow, for example, could do eight hours straight on the cerebral palsy thing, but he doesn’t. He just talks about life, happening to have cerebral palsy.”

“If Zoe Lyons goes on stage,” agreed Noel, “bang!– 2 seconds – I’ve seen her destroy wankers, whereas some comics would say I’m not going on to these bastards. Zoe Lyons? Bang!

“You’re not looking at someone for their sexuality; you’re listening; we’re there to hear the gags. If it’s from a woman’s perspective or a minority’s perspective, that gives it a hook of some sort. It can be funny to hear their perspective. Good comics are good; bad comics are bad.

“The problem is that there’s a scarcity of good female comics, so a lot of weaker female comics get right through to television because they (TV producers) are afraid of being called sexist and, as a result, we see some very weak females on television and that does a lot of damage.”

“This,” I said, “is the Andrew Lawrence argument.”

“There is nothing more sexist,” continued Noel, “than booking someone because of their sex. If I’m booking you because you’re a female and you’re not up to it, then that’s being sexist. But tell that to a lot of people who hate me.”

Kate Copstick at the Comedy Cafe Theatre bar before recording the Grouchy Club podcast

Copstick, relaxing (?) before recording Grouchy Club podcast

“That is absolutely, absolutely right,” said Copstick. “Also, some women who are minorly funny in any way – and THIS is the Andrew Lawrence point – are being booked to go on panel shows now because panel shows are running shit-scared of not having at least one cripple, one lesbian, two ethnic minorities and a spaceman.”

“I am still,” said Noel, “waiting to get booked for the lesbian spot.”

“Well,” said Copstick, “you can play the Tourette’s card (Noel has Tourette’s syndrome) – Oh, mind you, they’d be terrified of that as well, in case you say Fuck in the wrong place.”

“That,” said Noel, “would only be when they tell me what they’re paying me.”

“But,” continued Copstick, “they say: This person of the female persuasion has once written something vaguely funny in a column somewhere. Let’s call her a female comic and we’ll get her on Have I Got The Buzzcocks For Eight Out of Ten Cats.”

“Yeah,” said Noel, “there’s a lot of good female comics… I’ve seen a lot of bitterness from comics on all sides, but I’ve had more run-ins with females than males. Because the males think: Well, I’ve got to let it go because, if I tell the guy where it’s at, then he’s never going to book me. Who is going to book someone who argues?

“And I’ve had people twist my words. I said to one girl: You should be more feminine. You’re an attractive woman. Be more feminine on stage. Of course, it was thrown back in my face later in an e-mail, when I wasn’t giving her a 20-minute booking, that I had told her she had to be ‘sexier’. Think I’m that fucking stupid? In the last three years, I’ve had three really rude females and I’ve only had one nutter guy who never even got to the club because his e-mail was so rude.”

“What is the difference,” I asked, “between being sexually attractive and being feminine?”

“Oh John!” gasped Copstick. “Wash your mouth out!… You’re just saying that to be provocative.”

“That’s a matter of taste,” answered Noel.

“What is?” I asked.

“Well,” said Noel, “you asked the question What’s the difference between sexually attractive and feminine?”

“You,” I said, “were saying Be more feminine. She was complaining about being told to be more sexually attractive.”

“Some girls,” explained Noel, “that are very attractive, dress down and say: Well, I don’t want men looking at me for my body; I want them to hear my voice.

“Well do radio,” suggested Copstick.

The successfully diversified yet slightly grumpy Noel Faulkner

The successfully diversified yet slightly grouchy Noel Faulkner

“But,” continued Noel, “I said the same thing to a guy. I said: You look like the guy who just delivered the ice! Could you, like, wear a clean shirt? It’s show-business, folks! The business of showing. When you’re on stage, it’s 90% show, 10% business. When you’re off-stage, it’s 90% business, 10% show. Get that into your thick skulls and, if you wonder why I haven’t asked you back when you come here in a dirty, smelly tee-shirt and greasy hair… Everybody in the audience has dressed themselves up for the night, they’re all looking beautiful and you put on this greasy guy. Are you charging me £15 to see this guy?

“Yes,” agreed Copstick, “because it also looks like they don’t give a shit. It’s the register of your attitude to the people you’re going to see. If you’re going to see prospective in-laws, you’d presumably smarten yourself up a bit. If you’re going to a business meeting, you’d wear…”

“If you’re from Liverpool,” Noel prompted., “and you’re going to court…”

“Exactly,” said Copstick. “What do you call a man in a shirt and tie?… The Accused… But the other thing that irritates me and you get it a lot – I don’t know why I’m on Facebook, because it just irritates me – is this thing of… Oh, somebody said (a venue said) they had two female comics on the bill and didn’t want a third. Well, if you’re doing a really mixed bill, if you already had two very heavily political comics, you probably wouldn’t book a third. If you had two guys who only do puns…”

“Yeah,” agreed Noel. “That’s why (as a booker) you always have to see the material. You mix it up. It’s like making a bloody salad. You say: How many colours have I got in this salad and…

“I’m not sure,” Copstick interrupted, “that you’re allowed to say ‘colour’ now..”

You can hear the full 36 minute podcast HERE.

And you can see the video  of a 3-minute conversation Copstick had with Noel AFTER the podcast recording ended, on YouTube HERE.

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