“Less dick jokes”: Women-only comedy line-ups, audience expectations and stereotypes

Tomsett, Ellie (2022) “Less dick jokes”: Women-only comedy line-ups, audience expectations and stereotypes. In: Alternative Comedy Now and Then: Critical Perspectives. Palgrave Studies in Comedy (1). Palgrave. ISBN 9783030973506

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Following changes prompted by the alternative movement of the 1980s in the UK, the late 1990s and early 2000s saw the establishment of several women-only comedy nights and organisations. These organisations were established with the goal of provoking tangible wider changes to the experiences of women starting out on the comedy circuit, and were founded in direct response to the overt sexism encountered during that time. In 2013 the UK’s first Women in Comedy Festival was established to further this work, as many of the gendered barriers to inclusion within the comedy industry were still evident.

This chapter focuses on these women-only comedy nights and events. Specifically, I ask the question: how do both performers and audiences understand or construct the contribution these nights make as ‘alternative’ to mainstream live comedy spaces or televised comedy. This chapter will firstly consider this question from the perspective of women performers and promoters in order to contextualise the motivations behind the founding of these events and spaces. Secondly this chapter will examine what these spaces and events provide for audiences, their expectations when attending women-only comedy line-ups, and to what extent these expectations are linked to binary gender stereotypes.

In order to make this argument, this chapter draws on the findings of a research project completed with The Women in Comedy Festival in Manchester between 2014 and 2018. During this period significant engagement with the festival was undertaken (from the position of a participant-observer as the festival’s Researcher in Residence), interviews with performers and promoters were undertaken alongside an audience study. This qualitative and quantitative data will be drawn upon to underpin the argument that women-only comedy nights provide a vital alternative space for performers and audiences within the current social and industrial context.

Item Type: Book Section
19 July 2022Published
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Ellie Tomsett
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 13:29
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 16:17
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13197

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