Richard and Janey

Women In Comedy: Just Not Funny Anymore.

Richard Melvin Blog, Richard's Ramblings

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is to draw your attention to the fact that The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected is on Radio Scotland on Wednesday this week (12th February 2014). It’s a comedy panel show that we made for the BBC that happens to have a lot of women on it.

Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television said this weekend: “We’re not going to have any more panel shows with no women on them. It’s not acceptable.”

I’m glad he said this – but I’m surprised and disappointed that he needed to.

Here at Dabster Productions we make a lot of comedy shows for the BBC. In the last few months three out of six of our stand up specials for BBC Radio 4 Extra were hosted by female comedians, three out of five of the guests on our new comedy panel show on Radio Scotland are women and our last series, Feeling Kind Of Funny was hosted by a woman and featured 6 excellent female comedians.

Now, the thing is, we picked the best hosts, the best comedians and the funniest storytellers, gender didn’t come into it. Why should it? It’s 2014 not 1974. Surely this gender debate is over?

Unfortunately it isn’t.

I’m shocked and dismayed on a daily basis by the barrage of gender stereotypes my two young children face. So, as programme makers, if we have any influence over the public consciousness (which is debatable) we should address this at every given opportunity.

It’s not just the programme makers to blame though – it’s you too, nearly all of us!

Just about everybody who meets my daughter comments on how pretty she is, how they like her hair, her clothes or maybe they might ask her if she likes One Direction, fairies, princesses, that kind of thing. When they meet my son they comment on how big and strong he looks, they ask him which football team he supports, if he likes guns and swords or if he’s seen Star Wars. How can we blame them if they grow up with a warped sense of gender expectations?

Now in my house, I’m ashamed to admit, I never do any DIY. I’m useless at it, however my wife if pretty handy. She puts up most of the shelves, builds the Ikea furniture, hangs the pictures, changes the light bulbs. However for some reason when something in the house breaks the kids ask me to fix it. It’s called Daddy’s hammer, Daddy’s ladder, Daddy’s drill – even though they’ve never seen me use it. Weird? Not really. They are being hammered by gender stereotypes all the time – in the media, at school, from all of us. We’re ALL to blame.

So, good on you Danny Cohen for speaking out.

It seems like a fairly obvious statement to make, but everything helps on the road to equality. It’s just a shame we’re still on it and talking about it. I’m sick of hearing people talk about female comedians as if they’re some sort of different species. Funny is funny and right now, in Scotland, most of the funniest comedians happen to be women and it’s no coincidence that those funny people are making it on to our airwaves here in Scotland.

You can listen to funny people being funny on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday 12th February at 1.30pm.