Thanks to Emma Watson there might be a new line in town for open mic comedians to employ, soon we won’t be hearing ‘So, I’m single…’ after a list of personal ‘quirks’. No, no, no dear reader. Come 2020 open mic nights across the land will be ringing to light sexism, questionable ‘funny tinge’ remarks, cheap paedophile jokes and ‘so I’m self-partnered…’ and I, for one, welcome it.
I’m all for a bit of self-deprecation, it can be funny and relatable. However, I can’t help but notice that the stereotype for young men (#notallmen) starting out on the comedy open mic scene concerns them tackling subjects plenty of experienced comedians wouldn’t touch because of the finesse required to make the topic funny. This is because they believe their comic value lies in their edginess (or fearlessness), but when a new women stand up takes to the stage the stereotype is that she will punctuate a list of her shortcomings with ‘So I’m single…’
We all have to start somewhere, there’s nothing wrong with being an open mic comedian, it’s how you learn what works, what’s hack and whether bringer gigs are wrong or not – everybody has to do their time, with or without bribing their mates with the promise of a pint. However, while there’s something bold about bowling on stage in the belief we ought to hear about when you got the better of a minimum wage worker in a real and recent encounter, it strikes me as a little sad that some women (#notallwomen) feel a need to present their single status (true or not) as a failing.
It’s not surprising considering how hostile an audience (and male line up) can be to a woman comedian, cracking out an old joke from which they can infer nobody loves you can seem like a strange compromise; ‘let me be on this stage, I have nowhere else to be.’ This is, of course, absolute horseshit. But it’s just how insidious even in 2019, the pressure to be, if not married with children before you’re 30 then at least well on your way.
Few cis-het women are immune. Just as filmstar and UN ambassador Watson stated in a recent Vogue interview: “If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you’re not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you’re still figuring things out … There’s just this incredible amount of anxiety”. However, Watson is not an Ivy graduate for nothing, and has come to realise being single can be great; “I call it being self-partnered.”
Look, you can feel however you want to feel about your relationship status, I am not saying all singledom material is rubbish – far from it. But see it as your strength, not because you have a string of Tinder anecdotes, rather plenty of spare time to truly ruminate on your own opinions and space to be truly creative. If you’re taking to the stage with original comedy, then there is absolutely no reason for you to lean on old tropes or excuse your presence on the stage because society makes you believe you’re incomplete without a partner.
So, I hope to hear more women at open mic nights clarifying just why they haven’t found anyone good enough for them to consciously uncouple from themselves rather than excusing their half presence on stage.
*Who I wouldn’t recommend you make your comedy hero but hey, I can’t tell you what to do.