Feminist Comedy Night is set to return for its third instalment this Sunday, after a successful two shows earlier this year. Hayden Dalziel spoke to Alyce Wilson, who put the night together.
What prompted you to begin FCN? (yes this is the cool acronym I will now be using)
Because I hate all men!
No, okay, I guess I reflected on my experience of being a woman with anxiety disorders basically stacked to the roof like a particularly harrowing game of giant Jenga. I wanted to perform and be listened to, but often felt like I was seriously outnumbered.
I then had the “you can’t fight City Hall” discussion with some local female performers, and we found out that there are many all-femme events that accommodate various level of experience and abilities already happening all around the country, so why the heck not go play in the next room if we felt like it.
What do you think are the specific pressures that are placed on femme folks in the comedy scene?
I feel like there’s an implication that “if you can’t play with the big boys, you can’t play the game at all” is a major thing. But please, feel free to keep emailing me about my feelings being incorrect! Like, I’ve been told (via email) that this event shouldn’t exist because apparently if females really want to succeed they gotta… Jenga themselves into the existing scene, something that would and does involve following a preexisting set of rules, including, but not limited to:
“Don’t take it personally!”
“Don’t ever get offended!”
“Don’t talk about stuff I have no immediate or future plans to even meet you halfway in understanding!”
“Don’t make fun of men if you’re so about equality!”
Essentially: your skin must be thiiiis thick to inhabit this space… that’s been here forever… that we may never question… or even do a cheap reno of.
People really seem to have engaged with these events, are they filling a niche the broader comedy scene has ignored?
I’m not sure that the ignoring is conscious so much as it’s just Hard Facts 101- cishet white men dominate the majority of young, creative rooms in Perth. I feel like the people who are pissed at me aren’t pissed because I run an all-female event, they’re pissed because I (and presumably the people engaging with the event) am taking (fairly non-aggressive) exception to the (pretty blatant) status quo. Which is just like, huh? But you can’t argue with Hard Facts 101- it’s a prerequisite.
Have any male-identifying folks performed?
Nope. Non-binary folks who have experienced femme identity are certainly welcome to perform. I should probably be more explicit about that from here on out. It’s a lot easier to be frank about what I don’t want so here goes: if you’re some guy who was born some guy and are hell stoked about that fact, we’re bored already and don’t wanna sit through your perspectives of the world on this particular evening.
What do you think is the importance of having somewhere supportive for newcomers?
Well, I’m fully prepared to go HAM on any audience member who disrespects my performers (actually, my mum said she will because I’m usually too busy having a complicated panic attack in a dark corner) and that’s not something many first time performers have access to. An angry Mediterranean mother and her hyperventilating overgrown child as bodyguards? Um, as a related side note, I worry that the people who complain about ‘safe space’ events will grow up to be the kind of parents who refuse to put those blue protective foam things on the edge of their children’s trampoline. “Oh, you broke your leg?! That’s character building, kiddo!” Basically, I won’t let you limp to the ER alone.
Are there lots of experienced femme comedians out there too?
Yep! One (other) thing that I worried about with this event was that it carried the implication that there’s no female-identifying comics in the Perth comedy scene already, which is absolutely not the case. Some of them are regular performers at FCN. Some of them are off doing their own thing at existing nights, or running other local comedy shows. It’s not my intention to detract from what they’re already doing at all. I’m just the dope who used the word “feminist” in the title of this event. Simply because I feel like an entire night of all-female artists is a feminist act, whether you want to embrace that label or not.
What are the ways you hope FCN will influence broader Perth Culture?
I personally want to hear slice-of-life stories from female-identifying individuals all the time, and not just at the Rosemount Hotel Main Stage on September 11 from 6pm for $5. If FCN has anything to do with making femme perspectives more mainstream/accessible to wider audiences, then, cool. There are some other gal-friendly/otherwise safe spaces/nights happening in Perth now, which is really exciting. I haven’t checked them all out yet, but let’s all go!
What does the future hold?
Less emails telling me I’m a big baby, more support for female-identifying people in local creative scenes, and somebody buying me a glass of pink moscato at feminist comedy nite #3.
Words by Hayden Dalziel
You can read our review of the first night here.