Originally published at The Student Journals.
Saturday 15th September saw the third What The Frock! women’s comedy night in Bristol, held in association with UK Feminista’s Summer School. In just four months, since the first event, WTF’s creator and organiser Jane Duffus has successfully proven that mainstream comedy clubs are overlooking some really hilarious women comedians. In fact, she’s proved her point so successfully that, from January 2013, What The Frock! will be a monthly event. I’ve long been a supporter ofWhat The Frock! so I was really excited to experience my first show, and it far exceeded my expectations.
The show was compered by one of my favourite female comics, Kate Smurthwaite, whose uncompromising comedy style combines feminist politics, atheism, and plenty of audience interaction. Setting the tone for the rest of the night, Kate began by sharply deconstructing a Daily Mail article on the “mysteries” of the female orgasm – written, of course, by a man – before introducing the first act.
Bristol-based Angie Belcher is a stand-up comedian and poet. Combining these two skills, she performed a series of witty rhymes on single life, Bristol, and why she’d rather have a dog than a child. Some of her ideas were excellent, but the set was an amusing warm-up, rather than a side-splitting show-stopper.
Next up was Bethany Black, Britain’s only goth, lesbian, transsexual stand-up comedian, who went down an absolute storm with her uninhibited, observational style. Bethany casually chatted about everything from the C-word and her former drug addiction, to her “lesbian haircut” and the awkward moment when her cat walked in on her during sex. Thanks to her amazing ability to extract humour from the most uncomfortable of topics, Bethany had the audience roaring with laughter from the start of her set to the very finish. Bethany is friendly, cheeky and utterly hilarious; she could very easily have headlined the show, and I hope to see her heading the bill of a futureWhat The Frock! event.
The night’s headliner was Danielle Ward, who bounded on stage in a comfy-looking patterned jumpsuit and told us that she’d never wanted to be a comedian. In fact, inspired by Helen Sharman, the first British person in space, Danielle grew up wanting to be an astrophysicist and work in the European Space Centre. When 16-year-old Danielle’s teacher told her “I wouldn’t advise any girl to go into physics – you have to be very clever”, she got a job at Blockbuster video instead. Thus began an extremely funny set of feminism, sex, cinema, and politics, full of stories from Danielle’s experiences of sexism in the work place, and personal grooming disasters.
Touching on an issue raised earlier in the show by Kate, Danielle discussed the media’s obsession with describing female politicians solely in terms of their appearances. She then went on to hilariously run through a list of male politicians, complete with photographs, assessing their attractiveness and her own eagerness to sleep with them. Suffice to say the Tories didn’t come out well in those stakes. The absolute highlight though, was Ms. Ward’s irreverent response to Moremagazine’s request for her to write Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired erotic fiction for them. “He looked into both of my eyes. Not just one of them, but both”, Danielle began, unfolding a tale of awkward sexual encounters that had the entire audience in stitches.
I can’t remember the last time any male stand-up made me laugh as much as funny women Bethany Black and Danielle Ward did at What The Frock! At the end of Danielle’s set my friend turned to me and said, “She was so good I almost weed!” – and if that isn’t a review enough in itself, I don’t know what is.