Saturday, 8 March 2014

One Female Too Far...

Comedy Chain Cancels Comic...For Being Female 

How 'inconvenient' you're a woman: the offending email
A NATIONAL UK comedy chain is expected to come under heavy fire and a possible boycott by their own stand-up acts after it cancels a female comic on the eve of International Women's Day...for being a woman!

Female comic Jenny Collier received an email on Friday afternoon cancelling an appearance in Haslemere, due to take place on 15th May, because "the venue have decided they don't want too many women on the bill and unfortunately we need to take you out of this one." They retrieve their manners *cough* to end the brief and bluntly shocking email, "We hope that this doesn't cause any inconvenience." I'm unsure if they mean inconvenience to her personally (obviously cancelling a booking is somewhat inconvenient) or to the entire female gender who no doubt feel inconvenienced that their chromosomes dictate the employment they may obtain under patriarchy.

One female too far: Jenny Collier
Perhaps they perceived Collier as not up-to-scratch; certainly not the case as her live and radio work will testify; a finalist in Channel 4's annual Stand-Up competition and described as "very likeable" by the oft-scathing London comedy critic Bruce Dessau she isn't a newcomer to the circuit nor a time-filler by any means. Perhaps they didn't realise she was a woman!?!

A brief search of comedy venues in the Haslemere area seemingly finds only one establishment hosting a comedy club on Thursday 15th May; Hemingways of Haslemere. That club, if it is the one refered to in the email, is booked by national comedy chain Mirth Control, founded and run by Geoff Whiting. Industry insiders confirm the email subject heading and scant message content bares a remarkable similarity to those issued by the chain, which acts as an agency and venue booker for small pubs and clubs throughout the UK as well as a smattering of clubs in Europe.

Ten Male Comics to Every Female?
Looking at the listings for Hemingway's March show [left] we can see that they have nine acts (including a double act) plus a compère, all but one of which is male. It seems the venue has a 'quota' of one female act per month and clearly the May show had exceeded it!

It is an unwritten rule (until Friday's email placed it firmly in black & white) within the comedy industry that a club, unless specifically targeted at the female, LGBT or leftfield market, will generally only host one female comic on any particular night, usually sandwiched in the middle of the show between their male counterparts. This doesn't seem to deter self-proclaimed faux-feminists such as the sanctimonious and desperately unfunny Mirth Control regular, Joe Wells (or as one critic succinctly put it, "he isn't quite the full-blown comedy revolutionary" [he thinks he is]) who is happy to take the money and run; I guess Marxist [sic] principles don't pay the bills. But when Wells hopes fellow comics "die in the most painful and degrading way possible" perhaps principles aren't his strong point.

It appears for all it's leftist acts and it's 'alternative' heritage the "new rock'n'roll" is still stuck in the middle of the last century. Two men walk into a bar, the woman was cancelled by email.


  1. Mirth control book more than one woman for a gig (unlike most promoters ) but the venue won't have it ..Do we praise Mirth for attempting to push it through the glass ceiling we attack them for not succeeding call them sexist ,when in fact their crime is to have filled the bill in a gender blind manner