We’re kind of train-wreckish. I used to do stand-up. mostly at shows that featured women comics, but occasionally among mostly men. women are pretty thin on the ground in general in stand-up. which is odd, because we are WAY funnier than are men. Especially feminists. hilaaaarious, feminists are. yep. Aboriginal feminists ESPECIALLY. The shows i went to this weekend, though, the stand-up shows, were all white women, far as I could tell. So, you know, some of those women were a little less funny than others.
First off, i’ll tell ya, we’re all pretty predictable. Men who do stand-up ALWAYS talk about their penises. I only EVER heard one man in comedy do an entire set without once mentioning his willy. that was Irwin Barker. Oh wait, Brent Butt, he doesn’t usually refer to his penis either. Everyone else, though? yes. Maybe they’ve been doing comedy for twenty or thirty years or maybe for half an hour. They all of them talk about their cock.
as if it’s interesting.
Women, on the other hand, we rarely talk about our clitorises. Or vaginas, or fallopian tubes or labia or anything else south. We do sometimes talk about penises.
but in general, no. Our fall back for funny which is almost never funny, (much like the dick), is self-deprecation. We go on about how bitchy we are when we are pre-menstrual. We lament about how fat we are and how hard it is to lose weight. We talk about our ‘neurosis’, our strained relationships with our children or our mothers or our male friends (lovers or no) or our freakin’ body hair as if they are individual problems, not signs of our shared oppression.
It’s fucking maddening. I’ve been stepping back into the stand-up comedy world. and it’s like being rip van winkle awakening to an altered, but similar world. We have, apparently, moved on from Amazon Nation. I was at a show recently which featured comics who were gay or lesbian. or bisexual (which is just another word, far as I can figure, for women who once, long ago, had an affair with, kissed, flirted, or fantasized about flirting with or kissing or having an affair with, another woman. i could go on about this, but i won’t–this post is not about that). Anyhow, so i was the first comic on the show, which was fine with me–it’s the toughest spot, really, but also, it was good to get it over with so i could enjoy the rest of the show without being distracted by nervousness.
I talked some about how “douchebag” is a fine epithet to throw toward a dickhead male–douchebags being, as they are, useless, patriarchal inventions designed to promote feelings of inadequacy and self-disgust in women, and resulting in harm to women. The stuff douchebags are supposed to ‘clean’ are actually self-cleaning and they are SUPPOSED to smell that way. C’mon. I talked about how much FUN it is to be pre-menstrual, what a powerful time it is for women, how much I enjoy going to the gym, riding my bike, arguing with sexist dickhead douchebags when i’m pre-menstrual–yeayeayea! I talked a little about how much I love being a woman, and how glad i am that I made the decision, 25 years ago now, to become a lesbian (not gay. not queer. LESBIAN. all caps).
People laughed, they seemed to enjoy my humour. there was a dead spot when I talked about my true identity as an underwater mammal–but i have to work more on that bit, cause there’s some good stuff in there, it’s worked before, but that was three years ago. overall, a pretty good set, with lovingness about the wit, the curve, the shape and smell of woman-ness.
The compulsion to take ourselves down, or out, is strong. the pressure to conform, to squish ourselves down, to pick the hairs out of our bodies to better slip unnoticed between cracks and fissures, to keep our heads down and our shoulders rounded forward against the male gaze is great. Or, conversely, but not, to hold our heads high, to thrust our breasts forward as our best feature, to sway our hips and show how empowered we are by mens desire for us, to dance with poles and strut — to compete with other women, too–as if we were not being tugged by the invisible hand of the powerful (THE MAN. all caps) — this too–these two directions–either take up less space, or claim our spot as the most feminine, the most sexy, the most ‘ideal’–these are, apparently, our choices now. Where is the way to be a woman apart from what men want or expect us to be?
Not too much room for lesbians there. tried, i did, to carve out a small spot last night. Described a fight with a man in a car, as I was on a bicycle. I said, “he was apoplectic, his face huge and red and he spat as he screamed, ‘douchebagdouchebag’ over and over at me–as if i had touched a nerve, as if i was dangerous. I am.”
We are. Take up our share of space. let the hair grow. Let the aroma of our woman-ness fill the air around us. Every bit as nice as lilacs.
god. When I made the decision to become a lesbian, the only married lesbians were those who had not yet divorced their husbands. now women are falling all over themselves to embrace this limiting patriarchal institution. ‘same sex marriage’. i don’t want the same. I want more. I want everyone to have enough. enough love, support, health care, money, faith, home, responsibility, play, work. enough. Marriage — state sanctioned, that is– only says The Man has you tied. Why can’t we agree among us to be committed to the well-being of others? We can bear witness to our commitments to each other, we can hold each other up, we can be accountable, we can do much much better than squeeze ourselves into the narrow little spaces the patriarchy shows us are ours.
Change the world. Don’t try to fit. There is no space for us in this world. We have to make our own. And we can. PLUS–we can have fun doing it. Feel the love. Look up. Stand-up Comedy does not have to be pathetic, and comics, the funniest ones, I think, are not so much train wrecks as the forensic specialists who can look to the causes….(i think i need to work on that metaphor).