MICF: Adrienne, Stella and Zoe

As I sat down to write about Adrienne, Stella and Zoe,  a fellow-writer posted this on Facebook: “A guy at work just said to me, ‘Not to be sexist but I don’t like female comedians. They’re not funny and all tell jokes about their periods.

He said it outloud, to another person.

Anyone want his contact details for a comedy festival date? Unless you’re a girl and Aunt Flo’s in town, because you’ll just be a bitch.

As a silly girl who only laughs at tampon jokes and doesn’t understand proper jokes about beer and blow jobs, I saw some female comedians this week and none talked about getting the painters in. They did talk about rape and discrimination and sex and unequal standards. And still managed to make their audiences laugh.

Adrienne Truscott
Adrienne Truscott

Adrienne Truscott is best known as a Wau Wau sister. Performing at lots of festivals, she’s seen a lot of shows and heard a lot of rape jokes. And she’s been told why they are funny.

In many shows I’ve seen, I’ve remember laughing at two rape jokes (one by Eddie Perfect and one by The Sisters Grimm). The rest haven’t been funny.

Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is Adrienne’s take on rape jokes. It was the most talked about show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

With wonderful goatee-adding projections, she names those who have made rape jokes and shares their commentary about why people should think they are funny. Because if you have to explain it, it’s the audience’s fault for being dim, never your fault for not being funny. They also seem to assume that it’s only women who don’t get the joke.

Based on the joke she starts with, I wonder which performer has already said that it’d be ironic (meaning funny) if Adrienne were raped during her run? And I don’t mean “if”; I have no doubt that someone has said this and that people have laughed. I dare you to say it to her. And to me.

It’s one thing for my friends to see Adrienne’s show – do, she’s wonderful and it’s painfully hilarious – but this is the show to see if you’ve ever made or laughed at a rape joke. It’s also the show for  comedians who blame their audience when they don’t laugh.

And it’s for writer Keith’s mate. Maybe we should just tell him that he’ll see naked snatch?

Stella Young
Stella Young

Next it’s off to Northcote where the tampons must be overflowing from the dressing rooms with the amount of women performing at the Town Hall.

There’s Stella Young’s Tales from the Crip. Stella’s the crip.

After years of writing, being on tv and compering, she’s finally doing her first stand up show.  (A-M, how dare you be so insensitive; Stella can’t stand.) But no one can beat her story of a someone asking her to stand up for a bit during sex.

Stella shares stories about the earnest awkwardness she faces every day from well-meaning strangers and total idiots who see difference as an opportunity to show how much they don’t notice difference, or to show how down-with-the crips they are. Here’s a rule: if you don’t like the idea of a stranger asking you the same question or offering you help when you haven’t asked, then don’t do it to a stranger. And if you have to read a pamphlet with rules about how to treat people, best that you be quiet.

Stella’s show is personal with enough distance for her to keep some secrets and is guaranteed to make everyone shudder and laugh with embarrassing recognition. And I will never have guilt about not giving my spare change to Riding for the Disabled collectors; apparently it’s not like The Saddle Club!

FOMO, Zoe McDonald
FOMO, Zoe McDonald

Also at Northcote is Zoe McDonald in FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Zoe’s multi-character solo show won the Tour Ready award at the Melbourne Fringe and went to the Adelaide Fringe. FOMO has come back to Melbourne as a different show.

It’s still about the fear of hitting 30 and wondering why life isn’t perfect, but it’s tighter, has new characters and has become much more a show about Zoe and her understanding of why she has the FOMO and is terrified of becoming a cat lady. In the first run, the characters were the most memorable (being bloody hilarious), but this time, you leave remembering Zoe.

I nearly didn’t go because I had seen its first season, but never underestimate how long runs can influence a show –  and Twitter let me known that I’m not the only person who has the FOMO about not having a Thermomix or an iPad.

So that’s three women who didn’t make menstrual cycle jokes. Neither did Bryony Kimmings, Hannah Gadsby, Isabel and Rachel or Kate McLennan. In fact, I haven’t heard a period joke all festival.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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