Features

Women’s Comedy Down Under

My kids hate watching comedy on TV with me, especially shows like Live at the Apollo or highlights from Montreal or Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

‘Relax’, they say, ‘calm down mum’, they lament, as I snort, twitch and kvetch about the inevitable female under representation .

‘It doesn’t matter’, they say. ‘But it does’, I say ‘it really, really does.’

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It matters, because doing comedy is incredibly empowering, even more so than giving birth, so powerful in fact that it has saved my marriage. Comedy is cheaper and way more cathartic than therapy, connects people in a way that nothing else does and gives an avenue for articulation of so many taboos and really how many dick jokes do we need in the world?

The finale of the inaugural Melbourne Jewish Comedy Festival, of which I am the founder and creative director, saw five Rabbis and two male MC’s of varying degrees of comedic skills tell stories, sing and generally joke around in the event Have you Heard the One About The Rabbi? In the oldest Orthodox synagogue in Melbourne.

The line up was no bastion of gender equity, but in the background sat our young female light and sound tech, our young female stage manager and our three female board members. Gender equity may not be visible on stage but can be reached back of house, even within Jewish Orthodoxy.

Six men and six women performed at the MJCF Gala Opening to a crowd of 360 people. To ensure more women performed at MJCF, I got to stalker level during the planning stage, pursuing women to be part of the festival, stretching deadlines, making exceptions and always making room for as many women as possible.

Across the festival I worked hard to get the balance, at times I just couldn’t pull it off though. One event I wanted to deliver was a panel discussion on gender, ethnicity and comedy, but lack of funds and lack of women in that space conspired against the idea.

There were 59 performers in 10 events across six locations, 22 of the performers were women.

We are now in the planning stage for MJCF 2016, ladies get in touch, and if you aren’t Jewish we can still create events to include you.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival had 17% female representation in this years festival.