Kiri Pritchard-McLean is about to begin her first solo show at Edinburgh. It’s about the idea that women aren’t funny. Could she have made life any harder for herself?
It’s a big task for every comedian. It marks a sort of ‘coming of age’ where you try to declare to the world, “This is what type of comedian I am,” while simultaneously gaining a stone and haemorrhaging enough money to buy a modest hatchback outright.
I thought I would up the stakes a bit more for myself and talk about things I cared about, covering particular subjects I cannot help but come off worse against. Because the only thing I love more than talking about myself, is disappointing myself.
I frequently question why I’m doing this.
I’ve decided to talk about why some people don’t find women funny or, in extreme cases, think they are incapable of being funny. However, that didn’t feel fruitless enough for me, so I decided to wade into systemic racism too, so if I fail I can sleep safe in the knowledge that I have let women AND people of colour down. Luckily for me, white guys run everything so at least I’m not burning any bridges.
Previewing this show has been such an edifying learning curve plus a neat way to devalue my car, which now has a mileage second only to the balloon in Up. The great thing about talking about these subjects on stage is that people want to talk to me about it afterwards and that was always something I wanted.
I want my show to be funny, important and make me mega rich, but I love the thought of people debating the points I’ve raised afterwards. I don’t want to write a disposable show, because if I can make people talk, you make them think. That’s what my favourite comedy does; it’s piss funny and you get something else from it.
This doesn’t stop me from wondering why I’m doing it, by the way; it just makes me wonder why on earth I think I’m good or important enough to be trying to do that.
“I’ve decided to talk about why some people don’t find women funny or, in extreme cases, think they are incapable of being funny. However, that didn’t feel fruitless enough for me, so I decided to wade into systemic racism too.”
I’ve had women who are mathematicians tell me about the outright sexism they face in the workplace and it resonated so much with me, while making me realise some people have to do maths as a job. Wow. I’ve had women telling me about times they’ve called out sexism in their workplace and how they fared. I’ve had guys confide they have wanted to address sexism when they’ve seen it but are wary of being perceived as self-appointed white knights, swooping in to save the day.
I’ve also had people take my decision to talk about these things as an attack. Some people have watched my show and they’ve not taken away a good-natured dissection of the psychology of oppression (like I said, a laugh riot). They have chosen instead to ask me where I got my information from, when I cite scientific studies. How much of my show is made up?
Because I talk about my experiences on stage as a woman. They have shouted out of audiences and asked me to sing for them instead of do jokes because I talk about soul music. They have shouted out, “Gayness is a disease,” when I explain why my dad is no longer homophobic.
And as shitty and disappointing it is to deal with this when you’re just trying to talk about something you care about, it makes me remember why I am doing it. Because I need to.
Find more details of Kiri’s Edinburgh show here.
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Kiri is a Welsh stand up comedian and one fourth of sketch group Gein’s Family Giftshop. She is also a Farmer’s daughter. The subtext to all this? Great at swearing. @kiripritchardmc