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The Mock The Week lack of women feminist debate – my 2p worth…

Last week it all kicked off on twitter when some people said that there were not enough women on the Mock The Week panel. The show discussed it via their twitter feed but decided to draw a line underneath the debate. A blogger wasn’t happy and put together a blog entitled Mock the Week Mock the Women which she posted yesterday. She describes herself as a feminist and as an active member of the Bristol feminist network so that is her words not mine so don’t say I’m feminist bashing before you’ve read my 2p worth…

Jo Brand commented two and a half years ago the following (from The Guardian:

Women don’t want to go on panel shows for six reasons. 1) They won’t get a word in edgeways. 2) They may be edited to look stupid. 3) They may get the piss taken out of them. 4) They may not be funny. 5) They don’t like competing for airtime. 6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed.”

Well let’s look at them one-by-one.

1) They won’t get a word in edgeways – That is a fair point as even Frankie Boyle has complained about this. So I can’t disagree.

2) They may be edited to look stupid – Well so can anyone. They have edited the show to make all the comedians look stupid from time to time. Can’t really agree on this one.

3) They may get the piss taken out of them – Er…yes. Have you not seen TV panel shows? When Lee Mack takes the pee out of the very notion of David Mitchell going into Argos is that unfair? So I can’t agree on this one either.

4) They may not be funny – Then why are they in stand-up comedy in the first place?

5) They don’t like competing for airtime – That is an issue but that is the nature of the beast.

6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed – Yep but so can male comedians if they don’t bring a lot to the show. Are producers under duress to ensure everyone gets the same amount of air time whether they are funny or not?

Look Mock The Week is pretty tired these days and I never watch when it’s on although I often will stick in on iPlayer whilst working at some point during the week. There are good female stand-up acts around and some of them should be on the show but should they be invited on to the show just to fill a quota or do they want to make it because they are deemed good enough to be booked for what is still a prime gig to get some exposure?

Looking through the list of women who have been on the show and some of them just aren’t very good. Saying that a lot of the men weren’t very good either. Would I want to see more of Gina Yashere or Lauren Laverne on Mock The Week? No. No I wouldn’t. Would I want to see more Sarah Milligan or Lucy Porter? Yes I would.

Further on in the blog linked at the top of this piece the author writes, ‘But us feminists – we’re not done. Because contrary to Mock the Week’s dismissal, this issue matters. It touches on big issues of cultural silencing of women’s voices, sexism and misogynistic assumptions about women and men.

And this is what pisses me off the most. They say it matters but do they mention anything when you see that the % of women on the show is more than the % of comedians from ethnic backgrounds. So make a huge stink about lack of women but they don’t even mention the fact that comedians from ethnic backgrounds are represented even less.

I don’t see Mock The Week (or the BBC) as a closed shop. I think it is fair to say more people have heard of comedians like Ed Byrne or Stewart Francis or Milton Jones. Is the BBC meant to put together the most popular show for the license fee payers or is it there solely to give everyone a fair crack of the whip? Should they have quotas they need to fill on Mock The Week and other shows? Should 10% of all TV presenters be ginger for example?

Women can be just as funny as men. We all know this. However in reality on the stand-up circuit there are 249 listed on the comedian site Chortle who are female of the 1,380 listed, which means that 18% of the comedians listed have their reproductive organs on the inside of their body instead of the outside. The percentage of guest panelists on MTW who are female is 13% so it isn’t a huge disparity compared to how many are active on the circuit.

I don’t see this as a big issue facing women in this day and age but clearly I’m wrong…

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  1. DeSelby DeSelby

    Jo Caulfield was on the last programme and distinguished herself by making a “joke” about Theresa May’s attractiveness.

  2. Well, if Mock the Week was the only show which persistently does not include women, I might agree with you, but this seems to be endemic at the BBC. You just need to look at the panels on Question Time every week which are usually 60 if not 80% male.

    Even in their coverage from Lib Dem Conference, they routinely had all male panels. After Nick’s speech they had 3 Lib Dem men analysing it, for example.

    And it’s not just us – The Politics Show Scotland had a feature on the Scottish Labour leadership election where they interviewed party activists – not one single woman.

    It gets really irritating.

    And, frankly, the women on Mock the Week are every bit as funny, if not more so, than many of the men. I’ve had about as much of Russell Howard as I can take, for example.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Lucky for you that Russell Howard left the show several series ago then ;o)

      The women might be as funny if not more so I’d agree but in that situation on that show then I would disagree. I’d not put many women near the top of my list to see on MTW compared to seeing them live stand-up where they can really get into their act. For example Sarah Millican is very good stand-up but when you only get short bites of time then her material doesn’t come across as well as Micky Flannigan who is crap stand-up but it short bites on MTW is quite funny.

      The piece in question (and the subsequent follow up piece) are comparing MTW to shows like Would I Lie To You? and 8 out of 10 cats where people like Chantelle from Big Bro and Carol Vorderman have been seen quite often. They are shows where it isn’t just stand-up – the comedy is a different style and brand. The correlation between females of the stand-up circuit and female guests on MTW isn’t a huge difference – and when you throw in a lot of the top female stand-ups refuse to go on the show because they don’t get enough air time and think they can’t express themselves then what is MTW supposed to do? Put on C list female comics over A list male ones to fill a quota?

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