Justice

Comedian Bethany Black Shuts Down Sexist Comedy Venue

September 9th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

Bethany Black is a comedian, writer, and actor who happens to also be a woman. She was reminded of this last fact when a comedy venue declined to book her based on her gender.

The tweet.

Black described what happened in a side-by-side photo in a tweet.

"So here's an email I received when applying for a gig," Black tweeted, "and here's my considered response to that email."

The email from the venue.

Black did not name the venue, only the first name of whomever was the connection between booking and talent (a "Claire"). Here's what Claire had to say:

"Bethany, you sound fab. But can you believe 'too many women on the bills' this time. But will definitely book you for the future. So I will get back to you for future. We don't do that many gigs here in rural, just in the spring and autumn.

"Thanks for getting in touch,

Claire."

Black's emailed response.

Rather than shrug and accept the excuse, Black pinpointed exactly what was wrong with Claire's response, and she wasn't shy to explain it:

"Hi Claire,

"I've not replied until now because I've been trying to find the right words. No, I do not believe too many women on the bills as an excuse, because it's not 1964 and this isn't an episode of 'Mad Men.' Women isn't a type of comedy, and this type of misogyny is what's leading to the homogeneity that's destroying our circuit. I'm disgusted that you would say something like this, even if you were 'just passing it down from the venue' which just makes you a facilitator if that's the case. I'm shocked and appalled that anyone would even think that this is an appropriate excuse to use in 2016, let alone email someone to tell them this. There are no other women comedians whose material crosses over with mine.

"If this is genuinely something you believe is acceptable then I would rather not work for you.

Yours

Bethany Black"

"Women" isn't a type of comedy.

Black makes a few good points, especially that "women" isn't a genre, something women have been saying not only in comedy, but in the music industry as well.

For the venue to suggest that there are too many female comedians suggests that "female comedian" is a type of comedy rather than merely the gender of the comedian performing, and it undervalues the comedians.

Too many men?

But there's the thing: You'd probably be hard pressed to find a venue that would ever note that there were "too many" male performers on the bill.

Women are often separated and classified within their fields, as opposed to being ranked among their male peers on their own merit. Look at Rolling Stone's regular "Women Who Rock" issue or any list that focuses on "best x female x of all time" when it could easily say "best x of all time."

It's unfortunate that this venue chose to make comedy an issue of gender, when really you are either funny, or you aren't.

[h/t BuzzFeed]