no girls allowed

No laughing matter: Sexism on the comedy circuit

no-girls-allowedWhat do you call a woman at a comedy club? The waitress.

I recently experienced some old school, 50s-style sexism at the hands of an award-winning London comedy club. Don Draper didn’t pinch my bottom. I wasn’t thrown out of the board room. I was kept out of a less glamorous room – the upstairs of a north London pub.

A little bit of background – I’m not a professional comedian. I’m entirely new to the world of comedy, having just done a beginners course, and I’m trying to book a few London gigs and make performing a semi regular hobby. I’d heard that this club (which shall remain nameless) runs a well respected new acts night. When they told me that they were fully-booked for the foreseeable future it wasn’t particularly surprising – clearly lots of people want to get on the bill there. But then the surprising thing happened. Three male friends who had done the comedy course with me were given spots, despite having asked after I was told no.

So what does a girl do in this situation? Well firstly, I obsessed that I had somehow come across as an unfunny idiot in my initial email, and that’s why they’d said no. Then I went into detective mode. I set up a new email account under a male name, emailed the club pretending to be a completely new person, and waited. Lo and behold, my male alter ego was given a spot, no questions asked.
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