Janey Godley: If you really must swear, do it properly – there's a dear
LAST week, I won the Nivea Funny Women Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Festival. Being a female stand up can make you feel rather isolated in what is effectively a male dominated industry, so anyone who supports women comics is cool with me.
There are so many barriers for women in comedy; the lifestyle alone is daunting. You leave your family behind every weekend and go off to stay in a collection of anonymous hotels just to make people laugh and it can be awfully lonely at times.
Language is everything when you are a female comic. I recall performing at a corporate gig and there were five men on the bill, but the organiser singled me out to make sure I wasn't going to use bad language. On the night itself, the five men swore constantly, but they were very middle class and university educated and that seemed to make it OK. I suppose because I am a working-class woman from the wrong side of the tracks, when I use a sweary word, it sounds like I actually mean it.
Comedy content is also a big agenda for women in comedy. Woebetide any female who makes a joke about sex or their anatomy. This confuses me as just about every man I have ever shared a stage with has spoken more about women's sexual equipment than I have ever dared to and they can go on at length about their own dangly bits till I am sick to my bum crack listening to it.
Last week in Edinburgh, a well-known comedy promoter told me they recalled a joke I did about childbirth in 1996. The promoter said my story was quite rude.
"Was that the year Jenny clair won the Perrier Comedy Award?" I asked.
"Yes, that's right!" said person exclaimed.
"She did a show that was pretty vulgar and was all about her sex life and her vagina…" I responded.
"Yes," the person replied, "But you just sound harsh when you say naughty stuff, Janey."
It seems you can swear and be a downright filthy girl as long as you enunciate properly, have been to uni and do it in a clipped Home Counties accent!
There is an element of elitist attitude to women who can swear onstage.
If I was posh, pretty and educated, everyone would giggle at my audacity in using the "F" word; it seems women using strong language will only be tolerated if they look as though they didn't mean to let it slip.
Slipping over swear words isn't my thing. I don't act coy or flick my hair and – trust me – I don't do "cute". I do "funny" – and I now have a comedy award to prove it!
Kind hearts and bouquets
TWO weeks ago I wrote about my lovely wee step-mum having a nasty fall on a First Bus in Glasgow. The people from the company were suitably alarmed when they heard that mum was left shaken and shocked and had to rely on a passenger to get her to hospital.
My dander was right up when I saw how bruised mum was and I dealt with the bus company with all the spitting gusto an angry daughter could muster.
Mum has almost recovered and the bruises are healing up now.
The company sent mum a lovely bouquet of flowers and my wee mum, despite her arms being injured, sat down and wrote them a thank-you card in return.
It must be a generational thing. I am still shouting in madness at them and she is sending wee handmade cards, to the very people who left her injured, in gratitude for their kindness.
A twisted sense of family values
MY DAUGHTER Ashley went to see strapping Canadian Craig Campbell's dark comedy play Mr Twister at the Underbelly last week. She told me it was a wonderful mock horror, featuring a scary man who wields chainsaws.
"I loved it," she smiled. "It kind of reminded me of my uncles on dad's side, especially the ones who were in prison."
When I relayed this news to writer/performer Craig, he laughed and suggested I may have to rethink letting Ashley visit the family.
I am off to watch his play tonight to see if I recognise any of my strange in-laws.
• Janey's Fringe show, Domestic Godley, is at the Pleasance Dome at 7pm every night until 25 August. See www.janeygodley.co.uk/fringe or www.edinburgh-festivals.com for more details.
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