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Liverpool Comedy Festival at the Bluecoat by Vanessa Bartlett

How many of your favourite comedians are women? When was the last time that you turned on the television to watch a well known comedy show and found an all female cast?

It’s true that successful female comedians are few and far between in the UK. Indeed most women who work in the comedy industry tend to be behind the scenes; programming, producing and managing gigs while men take to the stage.

Like lots of women, I take issue with the fact that this gender imbalance exists because women are simply not funny. I know from personal experience of the women and girls around me, that females can do sarcasm, irony and even meanness with a level of verve and vitriol equal to most men. As a programmer of Live Art, I can vouch for the fact that some of the most whimsical and darkly humorous work that I have seen in the past year has been created by women.

This year during Liverpool Comedy Festival, the Bluecoat is tackling these issues head on, with a series of three events that celebrate women in comedy. On Friday 6 May we will host the welcome return of Live Artist Bryony Kimmings, fresh from a successful run at Soho Theatre. Bryony’s show Sex Idiot retraces her sexual footsteps in an attempt to locate the origin of a common STI that she contracted from a former partner. Funny and charming, this show is an unashamed foray into the highs and lows of women’s sexuality.

On Saturday 7 May we will host a panel discussion in collaboration with The Comedy Trust that will look at some of the challenges women face in the comedy industry, both in front of and behind the curtain. Panellists include Shaista Azizs, up and coming British, Pakistani, Muslim stand up comedienne and former BBC and Al Jazeera journalist and Sam Avery, Director at The Comedy Trust. In the evening we welcome back Lynne Parker for the first 2011 Funny Women heat, showcasing the best in local female talent.

Of course if you believe as I do, that gender is just a social construct then you will look forward to the day when both men and women are represented equally on the comedy circuit and exclusively female events are rendered unnecessary. Until then, I’ll hope to see a healthy bunch of male and female punters in attendance this weekend for a lively debate around this important issue!

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About the Bluecoat

Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. As the most ...

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