I was asked to paint female comedians as victims in an article and I wouldn’t.

I was asked to write an article for a newspaper last week about the Katherine Ryan vs knob head at awards ceremony situation.

The questions put to me for the article were:

  • How she felt watching [man] and Katherine Ryan’s interaction on stage
  • Whether she has faced sexism in the industry and any examples of times people have made her feel uncomfortable through this
  • Is there a different dynamic to the heckles female and male comedians get?
  • What she thought of the way Katherine Ryan handled the situation. Whether she thinks female comics are expected to laugh situations like this off, rather than express anger or upset
  • What she thought of Katherine Ryan’s response and discussion about who holds the power in situations like these
  • Why female comics deserve so much better than this

I decided I wanted to subvert the questions slightly as to start changing the conversation that women are victims as I look to the future and hope that when possible, people will write the stories about women who are strong which will encourage our girls to be stronger. I’d also read Katherine’s tweet about the situation and thought she probably wouldn’t appreciate yet another article which painted her as helpless. Because I don’t think it helps that we’re constantly told we are. They didn’t go for it. They said that I made some really interesting points but the article as a whole didn’t fit the brief they laid out- they want an article about examples of harassment of women in comedy. I tried.

So I thought I’d post it here instead because it took me a mornings work. Enjoy

…What’s interesting is there are a lot of people who are choosing to see this narrative as “scary male perpetrator tries to dominate defenceless woman.”

If you’re one of the many people who have seen Katherine Ryan live (Glitter Room on Netflix) or you’re another comedian – you’ll see this situation as “Comic embarrasses drunk who most of us haven’t heard of until now” For the record, I’m choosing to not use his name in this article. I will be calling him [Man.] I’ll use his name when he does something clever.

Not something I want to dwell on too much, but a thought nonetheless: he’ll keep his fans, he’ll keep gigging but this situation the other way around? Katherine would be down that job centre sharpish. As we’ve seen with other women in the media before.

Let’s stop these headlines he doesn’t deserve. Even he apologised and admitted wrong doing.

Katherine’s response to the situation was “he didn’t make me uncomfortable. This is why we need women in positions of power. I knew he had lost from the moment he opened his mouth like any heckler coming up against a COMIC – not a woman – a COMIC.”

What is most disappointing, when you search for articles surrounding this NME event they consist of;

“[Man] in altercation at awards and harasses host” 

“[Man] brawls with fan after ‘misogynist’ interaction with Katherine Ryan.”

“Rapper squared up to fan after being called out for misogyny.” 

If ‘all press is good press” what we’ve done is given this [man] leverage in the rap world because of his bad behaviour. We have presented him with what he, as a public figure needs and that is, front pages.

Well done.

This specific story will disappear, he’ll do something else horrific that’ll be chalked up as ‘rock star’ behaviour and we’ll just rollercoaster his success in the public eye but Katherine gets portrayed as a defenceless puppy and subsequently will no doubt be constantly asked about this in interviews and she’ll have to remind journalists constantly that she is okay and “thank you for asking.” How boring for her.

I haven’t faced personal sexism in comedy, I am doing well and I’ll never moan. I am busy (Amazon Prime special ‘Serious Black Jumper.’’ shameless hustle.)

There haven’t been enough women on panel shows, but that has changed dramatically. Mock The Week have birds on it all the time (well done lads we know that was a hard transition for ya.) I know it does it exist but i’m not the type of woman who keeps quiet about this stuff in person.

During Fringe last year it was women who took home all the reviews, sold their shows out and their tours. Women are really rocking it in comedy and it’s not a good time if you’re a white straight guy. I’m here to start changing the ‘sexism in comedy’ narrative. We’re not victims. Because some nice men out there are getting tired of successful, clever, talented women using the victim thing as a way to leverage a career and it’s making them jaded and we need some of them on board.

You’ll hear stories of female comics dealing with hecklers well, videos go up online if you’re a gigging comedian and you venture outside of London, you’ll meet guys from different backgrounds who think it’s part of your job and your job as a comedian is to make sure he knows it’s a one way conversation. You’ll see a viral video of a woman putting down a heckler but women are pretty tough, not only do some of us gig around the UK in rough towns, we also give birth. Which is really hard.

Katherine handled the situation compassionately. You can see her calling after him ‘babe’ to calm him. A technique you’re taught as a door woman (I was one in Wales) to act compassionately and people like Katherine are leading by example. To show them how it’s done. Like we’re their mothers.

“Bad behaviour will be punished, go to the naughty step but if you say sorry, we can move on. You’ve probably ruined your credibility forever but that’s on you babe.”

If we want women to feel strong like they can run the world, then perhaps we need to start writing about them with a stronger narrative. Katherine Ryan is the most successful female comedian in this country, she’s no victim.

I hope the title of this article is: Woman comic acts compassionately whilst another idiot drinks too much at awards.” Or y’know something catchier.

Come and see me on my UK tour: https://ilovejaydeadams.com/the-ballad-of-kylie-jenners-old-face/

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