February 20, 2012 by Lindsay Sharman
The facts, and then I shall express my ire –
A chap from The Green Party contacted me last week to offer me a 10 minute slot on a bill headlined by Alistair McGowan, for a Green Party fundraising event. I accepted, and we started exchanging e-mails to finalise details.
This morning, I received this –
I’m really sorry but I am going to have to withdraw our offer.
It’s nothing personal, I was asked if I could increase the diversity of
comics on the night
So we’ve got a 63 old transexual comic instead of a second female artist.
Sorry you have been usurped in this case for a transexual
That’s the e-mail in it’s entirety. Let me take a moment to splutter with renewed outrage.
Now let’s try and enter into the thought-process of Chris, upon being asked to increase diversity. My thoughts are in bold (which a lady should never be, eh Chris??? Eh? EH?) –
- There’s a fixed number of comics on the bill, and we’re at maximum capacity. Obviously we are very lucky with our headliner, so we’re not going to change him. (Ok, that’s fine, I can accept that.)
- At the moment, the women on the bill represent ‘diversity.’ (Insert argument about the fact that 2 women on the bill is still considered worthy of note, some kind of sacrifice by the promoter on the altar of equality.)
- But there’s 2 of them! If this was Top Trumps, they cancel each other out. I’m wasting a diversity card!
- I’ll give this diversity card to someone else. Someone who embodies our liberal aesthetic. Let’s do a pick ‘n’ mix of things that society considers ‘other.’ (Because employing someone on that basis is in no way insulting.)
- I’ll have to e-mail one of the females now (toss a coin? Last one in? The least fanciable? Chris, I’m surprised you didn’t spell out exactly why I’m the one that got the boot! Although you did say it “wasn’t personal”. Ah shucks, that’s good to know. So it really was purely gender-based. Phew!). She’ll understand! Because if she were in my position, she’d do the same thing! Because this is an accepted, if generally unspoken, way to compartmentalise and dehumanise people! Also, this is in no way unprofessional!
You know why I love comedy? Because it’s a MERITOCRACY. I still believe this. If you’re funny and determined, you’ll be able to carve out a career, regardless of what genitals you’re packing. Ditto for race, disability, pointiness of elbow blahblahblaaaah.
I am so bored of the gender-politics-in-comedy argument. But then this happens. This ludicrous incident won’t stop the juggernaught that is my career, but it is disappointing. Is it redolent of a wider attitude to female comics, does it show how tissue-thin any attempt at equality is, is this just the idiocy of one person (maybe a little more than one, I don’t know how many people were instrumental in this decision)?
I wish this ‘incident’ reflected my political leanings and it was the Tories who’d been absolute tools in such a blundering, hypocritical fashion. I don’t want to poop all over the Green Party. But if THEY’RE being so ham-fisted when it comes to this sort of issue, then hopefully this should incite some interesting debate.
Or maybe it is personal and he was trying to be nice. He probably thinks I smell and will attract bears to the fundraiser.