Abi Tedder of Minor Delays comedy sketch troupe reflects on playing sinister old men.
THE looming prospect of the employment tribunal and the uncomfortable silence of social judgement mean that today, you’re unlikely to admit you’d rather not have a female boss.
Lingering sexism is, for the most part, to be filed away (presumably alongside your residual fears of ‘catching gay’) at the cost of being cast from society. But, when Craig from HR says “I don’t think women are funny” does he get chased from the village with burning torches? No.
Comedy is one of the last bastions of vocal sexism.
I have been a comedian for more than six years and I couldn’t count the times I have been told “women aren’t as funny,” that I’ve had to push my bafflement to one side and defend my own and an entire gender’s worth of comic talent from attack.
At the moment I’m in a privileged position, I’ve stumbled into a show within which my gender is irrelevant at last.
In Sketch Group Minor Delays I perform alongside two guys: Harry Michell and Joe Barnes.
The show is fast-paced, stripped back, performed straight to the audience without us ever leaving the stage.
We refuse to split parts on gender lines, we simply play the parts that we’re funniest in. This means I mainly play sinister old men, Joe plays 12 year old girls and Harry gives birth quite a bit on stage.
Gone must be the days when women in comedy only play “Susan the Waitress” and “Baffled Wife.”
The world of comedy is changing. As Tina Fey graces another American talk show, Miranda Hart aside-glances her way to an extra million viewers, Bridget Christie wins the Edinburgh Comedy Award and Bridesmaids pulls in $288 million at the box office; each success is a step towards a new norm.
A norm where I can stand on stage alongside my colleagues not as a comedienne, but as a comedian.
A norm where the question “Do you think women can be funny?” simply no longer needs to be asked.
Minor Delays, Gilded Balloon, Teviot, until 30 August, 4.15pm, £8-£10, 0131-226 0000