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Mike is a feature comedian based in Auckland, New Zealand and is a regular on the standup scene. Mike has worked with the top names in standup comedy and written material for many of them. He has also worked in and written comedy material for radio and television, most recently being commissioned to develop a new sitcom from character development to final script. However, standup is Mike's first love and absolute focus.
In 2001 Mike recorded his first comedy release "Dancing for monkeys". He is now working on 'Spoken', his next CD release. In 2002 Mike will be producing the 'Outspoken' Spoken Word performance festival in Auckland, New Zealand
The following is an email that Mike sent the first week in March in response to a previously published piece, written from a woman comic's' point of view. Mike's opinion are his and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editor or the publisher.
Sorry, but this is a pet peeve.
In my experience, women comics do not have it harder. At least not in the UK and down under. Quite the opposite.
Many of the boy children have repeatedly lost work to lesser female comics because the bookers told us frankly "We just wanted a woman in the line-up for some balance".
(When I say 'Lesser' I am being honest. Comedy is cruel and in a close industry we all know where we stand in status week by week re our individual ability)
I have struck the same bias in numerous other areas. Including the programming of prime televised events, tours and prestigious showcases. Women comics also often have the 'All female special' showcases, etc. that men couldn't get away with producing - or even market come to that.
I have often seen female acts judged with rose coloured glasses and given very disproportionate stage time at all levels in their careers.
I have also stuck well meaning people trying to 'help' the poor girls.
This 'positive action' is ill conceived. When acts are 'helped' into such projects before they are ready, never mind earned, they perform poorly and just give female comics a bad name. This also creates resentment.
If there are fewer female comics than men, it is because of a simple numbers game. If only ten percent of people trying their hand at comedy are women, then around the same number will rise to the top. Striving for fifty percent of each gender at every opportunity is unrealistic.
Having more male acts than women also makes it easier for them to be remembered and make their mark. I have to stand out against a hoard of white, hetro men. This is why I pretend to need a wheelchair ;-)
I believe firmly that you help and celebrate talent. Period.
The audience just wants and rewards great comedy. I have programmed a show of five females on the same night by accident. I just put them together by style and energy. That's all the matters, it worked great.
The dynamic may be different for women on stage, but I would argue against it being harder.
I have found female comics fall into two categories.
Now I think about it, that sums up most comics. Men and women. The special and the forgettable. So lets just judge them all that way.
But please don't help reinforce this myth of the poor, struggling female comic. If they are good and work hard with a sound career plan, they have just as much if not more chance of reaching their goals than a male act. It's a grind for everyone at the start. The last thing we need is to put off more potential female comics with horror stories.
Unless the United States has some comedy Taliban operating there that I am unaware of ? Obviously we make female acts wear veils in New Zealand, but otherwise they are well supported.
P.S. Did you know that Taliban is corrected to 'tailbone' on a spell checker?