I sit at my computer to write…

…and I sit and I sit and I sit.

On the Radio, Trevor Nelson talks to Mary J. Blige and I like them both. The ‘desk’ I’m sat at is too high for my arms, and my chair is too low. I use cushions as a makeshift booster seat. Like a toddler having a driving lesson.

On Sunday I went to my boyfriend’s nephew’s first birthday and found myself surrounded by tiny people, who will one day have driving lessons as sit at computers that work faster and with far more grace than my dwindling five-year-old Mac Book. The perfect happy occasion to write about. But right now, as the dwarfed one in the room – albeit by an inanimate object – I feel lost.

I had 17 years without experiencing a death within my immediate family, which is extraordinary. The effect of this, however, is that I now don’t know how to feel, now it has suddenly reoccured and I am 25, rather than eight. The all-round brilliant woman Cariad Lloyd has recently written for the also brilliant Standard Issue magazine about how to talk to people who are grieving and I wonder if there is a guide for the grievers. I still blog – so I should be aware that of course there must be some great articles out there – but searching for them would require energy and admitting that I don’t know how to behave and so I keep writing this instead. It’s a stream of consciousness, but it’s something.

There is so much to do. And there is Christmas, and work, and the project I should really kickstart on YouTube. There are presents to buy, and frivolous blog posts to write. A guitar is gathering dust in the room I have spent months emptying for the purpose of playing it and writing on this much-neglected blog.

A song comes on the Radio. I double take; “I love it when you blow the flute.” And suddenly I am hysterical for the wrong reasons.

And I think; I can never feel as bad as this song sounds, surely? And I think; in time.

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Let’s bust some myths about ‘female stand-ups’

Oh Guardian readers. Most of you are my kindred spirits. Some of you, however, are people who just want to write ungrounded, shortsighted comments that barely resemble a proper opinion, let alone a constructive one.

Predictably, Mark Logan’s favourable review of Bridget Christie’s highly anticipated return to The Stand, where she performed her Fosters Comedy Award-winning show A Bic for Her last year, has roused the ‘women aren’t funny’ brigade yet again – with the majority of these bemoaning the idea that feminism can be funny.

What these quick-to-judge figures don’t seem to understand, is that a huge part of the current feminism movement (or fourth wave, if you like), has spread on social media like wildfire for three particular reasons; feminism in this day and age is common, sexualised culture in the West and awareness of practices such as FGM outside of our more local bubble, and finally, humour – yes, feminists have found their voices, and we’ve been making each other laugh on the subject ever since.

(It’s tempting to say ‘women’s voices’ – and of course, that’s a large part of it – but actually there are some brilliant men who openly call themselves feminists, brilliant stand-ups among them including my boyfriend, musical double act Jonny & the Baptists and activist Chris Coltrane).

So let’s bust some of those FQAs (Frequently Quoted Assumptions) right now, shall we?

“Female comics’ topics are limited to hating men, periods and under-representation in comedy”

This year, if you make the wise decision to see the wickedly awesome, super duper, charismatic Lou Sanders in Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again, you’ll be treated to the sight of Sanders tap dancing with a vagina on a stick. The vagina is not having a period. Or at least, it wasn’t during the preview I saw anyway. In fact, guys, I’m going to come out and say it now. Why aren’t women talking about periods onstage? I’ve seen a couple of semen jokes onstage – why not a bit of menstrual blood eh? WAIT, COME BACK, I’LL GET TO THE BLOODY POINT (geddit).

I’ve seen a lot of female stand ups in my time, but I’ve never seen a women target all men, joke about their ‘monthly visit’ in excruciating detail or say their aren’t enough women on the circuit as a joke. I’ve definitely had conversations with people about women stand-ups (I’m kind of having a one-sided type right now) and line-ups, but one of the biggest is still panel shows – where many fill their ‘woman quota’ with a female non-comic – Rachel Riley, I’m definitely talking about you (sorry) – and don’t feature female regulars or hosts (there’s Celebrity Juice and Viral Tap, both ITV2 – and very niche!).

The Guardian (yes, them again) wrote an article about the presence of more female comedy performers than ever before at this year’s Fringe. Although it didn’t explore this, I believe that the reason more women are going is because of stand-ups like Christie, whose success means that the stigma around ‘women not being funny’ is thankfully fading – in other words, it’s more economically viable to be a women performing at the Fringe, because people are less likely to be put off by seeing a female face on the poster.

“All the women comedians I’ve seen have been rubbish. Isn’t that Jo Brand awful?”

Firstly, I feel sorry for this hypothetical commenter. Comedy is subjective, so if you don’t find Jo Brand funny, that’s fine – just look elsewhere. Brand’s subject matter can veer to the domestic side, but that’s not a bad thing – and it often sharply dissects those expectations of perfection in relationships. And if you’re going to call Sarah Millican talentless, rather than accepting her stand-up isn’t for you, then there’s probably no hope for you.

“The women they’ve featured on Mock the Week have been rubbish”

Have you seen Mock the Week recently? It’s not just the women!

“Haven’t seen any Bridget Christie she might be great she might be terrible but she can’t be worse than her husband”

Ok – I’ve probably made some grammatical errors myself, but as I copied this comment verbatim from everyone’s favourite left leaning digital news website (ok, just mine), I’m resisting adding commas to the above quote. (NOTE TO SELF: STOP PROCRASTINATING!)

This wasn’t the worst comment on Brian Logan’s article, but it encapsulates the issue Christie must face in nearly every review, interview or article that features her as its subject; her husband. Onstage Christie does not refer to her actual comedian husband, but an invented ‘stage’ one. I don’t know a huge deal about Christie’s personal relationships, but what I do know is this – she’s hugely talented, she writes her own material, her material is distinct from his and her career is of her own making. End of. She may have featured on a show with him, but she’s also at the top of her game – if he wasn’t part of the show, she would still be involved. She’s not married to Harry Hill, Kevin Eldon or Kerry Godliman, but she featured on their respective sitcoms (Harry Hill’s Little Internet Show, It’s Kevin and Kerry’s List). And Fred MacAulay featured on her award-winning Radio 4 series Bridget Christie Minds the Gap – but they don’t have a romantic relationship either.

The thing about comedy – and it’s something I love – is that it’s a community. An industry with a performing circuit at its core, many performers know each other, share the same bill, organise gigs with each other and perform in the many new act competitions held each year. Essentially they help each other out – and they watch and enjoy each others’ sets. It’s supportive and refreshing. So therefore the idea of a leading alternative comic who won the most iconic prize in stand-up comedy last year appearing on a show about alternative comedy? Not that surprising is it?

“Women can’t do proper jokes”

Challenge your perceptions at the Fringe this year; if you think women can’t do one-liners or puns,check out Bec Hill, who started the hugely popular Pun Run night in London. If you think they can’t do near-the-knuckle rudeness, book a ticket to Katherine Ryan. It’s ingenious, borderline bonkers ideas you want? Lou Sanders is your woman. Friendly, funny and joyous? Go see Hatty Ashdown (and look out for Aisling Bea back in London). Political comedy with heart? Josie Long. Characters and/or improv? Cariad Lloyd and Pippa Evans are both doing laugh a minute shows this year. In the mood to see a panel show? Look out for Grainne Maguire’s What Has the News Ever Done for Me? (Check out Danielle Ward hosting her podcast panel show alongside team captain Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Do the Right Thing if you’d like to cheer up your commute.) Sketch comedy? Lazy Susan, of course! Sharp, hilarious and personal stand-up? Sarah Campbell.

“Feminism isn’t funny”

Sites like The Vagenda and writers such as Caitlin Moran aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they inject irresistible humour into the subject. And the art of good comedy is to always ‘punch up’ – unless you’re playing a character, such as Rachel Parris’s nightmare diva singer Felice in her show, Rachel Parris: Live in Las Vegas. Therefore, feminism is ripe for comedy – just as left wing, alternative comedy thrived in the eighties, feminism is fighting a absurd battle that needs to be had – and that means there’s humour to be mined.

Even if Bridget Christie’s comedy isn’t to your taste, if you were to analyse it, you’d surely have to appreciate the structure, the purpose and the commitment to the performance. She sends-ups perceptions of feminists, brings the ridiculous double standards of sexism to the fore, critiques her own bubbling anger and she also opens up a debate that will last with the audience once they leave the venue – last year it was through playing an inspiring recording of Malala Yousafzai talking about surviving the attempt on the life by the Taliban and the aftermath, and this year she’s making her intention to make a stand against FGM known.

“I don’t like ‘female comedy’. It’s my least favourite genre”

Well, luckily for you, it doesn’t exist!

In conclusion…

If you think women aren’t funny, you’re simply not looking hard enough. We don’t see enough of a variety of female acts on the TV for everyone to see someone to their taste, but the spectrum of acts around is so broad yet they don’t all get showcased on TV. Go out into clubs, go to the Fringe, make some effort – go on YouTube, or Chortle, or follow-up on tips from – yes, you guessed it – the flipping’ Guardian.

But whatever you do, don’t believe what you read in the comments, ok?

 

Frankie’s Stage Invasion

Anyone who reads this blog regularly or follows me on Twitter will be aware that I’ve been making an interactive video series called Frankie’s Fringe Focus.

But now I want to go one step further and swap the safety of my seat for the stage. Partly because I want to see what it’s like to be ‘the one from the audience that gets picked on’ (what can I say – I’m a glutton for punishment), but mostly because it’s a cheaper – and safer – source of adrenaline than bungee jumping!

 

And so my quest is simple; I want comics to choose me as their ‘featured audience member’ if their show requires one, before doing a cheeky little post-show interview for a little video I’m making about the challenge.

I’ll be in Edinburgh from the 13 – 19th August. To ask me about the challenge, or to invite me to a show, email frankiepromotes@gmail.com or tweet me @getfrank.

If you advertise your beliefs in your outfit, be prepared to talk about them…

The other day I was sat on the central line, music in my ears (but not so loud anyone could hear what I was listening to… probably something I should have removed from my playlist years ago) when the woman opposite me got up at Oxford Circus, pointed at me and started mouthing something at me.

I removed my headphones. It turned out she wasn’t mouthing, she was actually speaking.

“Me too!” She said. I looked down. She was pointing to my feminism necklace. I got excited.

“It’s from… um.. Oh…” I hesitated, before realising that it was from Thrift Ola, which is run by the former owner of Lady Luck Rules Ok (sadly missed). “Google Lucky Dip Club!” I called after her as she dashed off before the train started moving again. Since then, there’s been a pleasing handful of people who have commented or shared that they too are feminists. The custom name necklace I’m wearing in the photo below is now out of stock, but you can order your own ‘feminist’ necklace with companies such as the brilliant Tatty Devine and their name necklace service). 

Image

Once, in a branch of Carphone Warehouse, a guy pointed out my necklace and he confessed his mixed feelings about feminism. We had a perfectly respectable debate, where his chief concern was ‘how to approach women’ in clubs etc. I think that this is perfectly reasonable concern, but one can be easily addressed. Just be nice and respectful – it’s fine to go and say hello to someone, just don’t grope them, launch into aggressive sexual suggestions and so on and so forth.

On Monday I was walking through Kensington when a guy stopped me (saying a polite “excuse me”) said he liked my dress, asked me about myself and where I was going (in a non-creepy way). I genuinely was off to a gig with my boyfriend (I don’t really have many other reasons to be in that part of town), but I didn’t mind being stopped at all – I felt like I had control.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the male population needs to take tips from charity muggers and start stopping women in the street left, right and centre, but maybe the guy from the Carphone Warehouse should take note – respectfulness works!

More recently on the Central Line (that same Monday I ended up in Kensington) I was sat across from a man who wore a hat on his head with the bold (in both senses of the word) slogan that said “buy it or bang it”. I’m pretty sure this referred to women, although the phrase could quite as easily be applied to a fridge, among other objects. Obviously I didn’t ask him if he was a banger of white goods – I didn’t speak to him at all – but I doubt anyone will. If someone displays sexually aggressive misogynistic intent on their attire, it’s less approachable than someone wearing a one word representing a popular, if incomprehensibly controversial, ideology.

Now people have started talking to me about feminism in person, I’m keen to do it more often! I’m toying with ordering a Tatty Devine speech bubble necklace that says ‘talk to me about feminism’ to keep the conversation going…

Frankie’s Fringe Focus: Lou Sanders

The ninth (yes, ninth – catch up here) episode of my foray into comedy interviews, Frankie’s Fringe Focus, is with the wickedly funny Lou Sanders.

Lou is one of those stand-ups who are hard to compare with anyone else. She’s got a unique, almost anarchic, energy about her – you trust her onstage, even though you can’t predict what she’s going to do next.

We shot this in the ladies’ loo in the Camden Head (the Camden one, not Angel), with Lou’s friend holding my iPad. After this (and my video with Lead Pencil) I realised that the main (front) camera on my iPad simply doesn’t focus properly, so from now on, even if someone else is filming, I’m going to have to film using the front camera.

Luckily Lou looks nice in this video (while I look like I’m partly made of the sun… and not in a good way) and we chat about her amazing character The Money Lady, calculate the number of jokes on offer in this year’s show, Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again, and cover tap dancing vaginas… just because.

Click here to watch the video now. It’s interactive so you can touch it if you’ve got that kind of screen – or click with your mouse if you haven’t!

The Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza is calling…

In my opinion, the grand opening party of the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza (their first European location) missed a trick in not asking Eurovision winners Lordi to perform their winning song ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. However, they certainly didn’t disappoint on June 13th with their actual party performers, Chic featuring Nile Rogers.

Now they’re open, the hotel are keen to keep the party going and have announced a series of top acts (and Robin Thicke) who’ll be performing at the venue, on the beautiful playa d’en Bossa beach, over the summer.

Here’s what the line-up is currently looking like:

UB40 (June 27th)

Robin Thicke (July 4th)
Icona Pop (July 11th)
Jason Derulo (July 25th)
Ellie Goulding (8th August)
Snoop Dogg (15th August)
Kylie (flippin’) Minogue (22nd August)
Placebo (12th September)

I saw Icona Pop before I Love It became the hit of last summer and they were amazing – the perfect act to see in the sunset. It’s their enthusiastic energy onstage that really makes the pair a must-see (you don’t notice the songs for the crazy dancing the audience goes mad for). I’m most excited for Kylie Minogue, who is simply peerless for bringing disco into the present – and if we happened to meet each other in the front row at Placebo, we could totally mime along to Special K together… along with 2,500 people!

Luckily if the throng of people simply get too much, you can head to one of the hotel’s many chill-out areas or take a dip in the pool. Sounds like bliss… Where’s my plane ticket?

Hey guys, this is a sponsored article – but if I don’t like it, I won’t write about it.