Last night the campaigns No More Page 3 and The Everyday Sexism Project arranged a ‘Stand up to Sexism’ gig in the beautiful Harold Pinter Theatre, near Piccadilly Circus in London. As Lucy Holmes, the woman behind No More Page 3 stated, the pairing was an appropriate one because ‘Page 3 is an everyday example of sexism.’ A serious subject that people may be forgiven for assuming wouldn’t be very funny. But as the evening proved sexism, in many cases, is completely ridiculous and in the interval I heard people saying, ‘this is so much funnier than I thought it was going to be.’
Hosted in the safe hands of Lucy Porter who, despite having two children under the age of two, showed no signs of baby brain with her witty and coherent accounts of her own experiences of sexism, including one inappropriate act that took place within the BBC. She stated that in the past women were expected to just ‘laugh it off’ well last night the acts did more than this: they shared, they got serious, they got silly, but most of all they showed sexism up for its inherent stupidity.
There were some fantastic male comedians, Joe Wells, John-Luke Roberts, Chris Coltrane and Joel Dommett, who managed to do a sketch about going to a yoga class whilst standing on one leg in a yoga position. All proving that men can be feminists too.
But it was the women who truly owned the evening. Kate Smurthwaite read ludicrous tales from Daily Mail columnists. Suzi Ruffell gave accounts of the gender specific homophobia men have shouted at her in the street. While Viv Groskop’s feminist rap, which included the endearing term ‘mother-lovers,’ was a truly sparkly performance.
It was North London’s Tiffany Stevenson who finished the evening off in tremendous style. At one point she received such a lengthy applause that it felt like the audience wanted to continue clapping, but they knew they had to stop because they wanted to hear more. There were words of warning for the young, ‘smashing your backdoor in should be totally off the menu,’ and words of familiarity for the middle aged, ‘you know your old when you find biscuit crumbs in your bra….and you eat them.’ Climaxing on a serious and heartfelt note with a letter she had written to herself about the importance of not letting patriarchy hold her back (cue lengthy applause).
The female comedians exuded an air of confidence that comes from knowing they were performing at a gig with an audience of like-minded people who would totally get their jokes. Many spoke of how the joke they had just told had died at other gigs and was here receiving raucous ovation. As Tiffany Stevenson tweeted after the gig, ‘Every now and then a gig comes along so wonderful you want to hang on to it forever. Acts brilliant, amazing audience.’
The night might not have ‘cured sexism’ as Lucy Porter suggested it had, but it certainly laughed in the face of it.
By Laura Ashton (pictured)
Laura has written for The Observer, The Ham and High and is currently writing a novel. She has two young girls and lives with my partner in North London. He is in the pub trade and one of their pubs,The Pineapple in Kentish Town, is also a comedy venue. Find Laura on Twitter @AshtonLaura and read her blog Listen to the Chorus.
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