Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, the made up holiday for couples who can’t afford mini breaks but can stretch to a bunch of flowers and chocolates. So naturally today is #SinglesAwarenessDay for all the single people out there, and some record shops who may have misappropriated the hashtag. And the day before was the gloriously supportive Galentine’s Day.
Now, you won’t believe this, but I used to be a single person. In an unexpected turn of events I’m now married and still adjusting. I have got as far as saying I live with a married man, but not as far as saying he’s my husband.
Why mention any of this? Well, marrying Mr. Stone within a year or so of meeting him has given me a jarring insight into singleness and coupledom in comedy. In comedy it seems you can only be one of two things, single and looking (on Tinder) or in a disappointing marriage. Married comedians, in my experience particularly older men on the open mic circuit, seem to regularly allude to an unfair spouse, who takes pleasure in demeaning them whilst insisting on popping out finance-draining, rude children. Now, I assume these jokes are intended to seem self-deprecating, but they’ve still painted a picture of a bitter ‘Missus’ at home who’s wilfully spawned horrible kids to spite him.
You do, of course, get comedians referring happily to their partners. But that’s because Ellen Degeneres is married to Portia de Rossi and Stewart Lee’s wife is the awesome Bridget Christie. Sadly I suspect they are an exception to the rule.
It might seem like I am insisting more comedians create material I identify with. I’m not, I’m simply noting the tropes out there regarding relationships and comedy. However as a married woman I resent wives being reduced to spiteful women who aren’t as svelte as they used to be, just as I balk at the notion that were I single every night I wasn’t on a Tinder date would be spent crying into a bottle of white wine.
And here we come to the single comics, some of whom are wont to talk about their search for a date. Which is fine. It seems we’re moving on from the endless rounds Tinder jokes (of which there are actually only five and I’m being generous) though I fear that’s only because we’re between dating apps. While Tinder jokes are a bit tiresome, I was surprised a few years ago when a woman I was sat next to sighed heavily and criticised a woman on stage talking about being single. Why? Surely more stuff happens to a single person and whether they’re a comedian or not they’re honing their anecdote skills with each date they go on. But apparently my fellow (married) audience member was bored of single women talking about being single. Which offended me because that is what I used to do for a LIVING and confirmed my suspicion that society is skewed towards making hetero couples feel superior.
However I think the general attitude about being single has changed. While Baby Boomers risked being left on the shelf and Generation X was divided between singletons and smug marrieds, Millennials are more at ease with the notion there are different ways of living, be that with a partner, alone (kidding, what millennial can afford that?!), in a polyamorous relationship etc, etc. and that marriage is nice, but not an achievement like a degree or job offer is. Increasingly single women are refusing to be silenced by hetero couples standards/pity.
You can see this change already. It’s why on the 13th February you were probably celebrating Galentine’s Day. It’s why Luisa Omielan’s hit show What Would Beyonce Do? was shown on BBC Three for Valentine’s Day, a brilliant stand-up show celebrating Luisa’s achievements as a single lady inspired by Beyonce and just plain being a woman. Just as Katherine Ryan’s Netflix special was also launched in time for Valentine’s, because single or loved up we want to see these funny women on stage, not hear about her indoors.
Come celebrate funny women, single or not, with us at our All The Single Ladies comedy night tomorrow on the RS Hispaniola!