Image of live stand up comedian

Stand Up Ladies (Triple R, Melbourne)

Emma Ramsay, 23rd September 2015
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By Hannah Reich

Late last year I went along to an open mic night to support a friend of mine, Tash, who had just begun performing stand up comedy. She performed at a seedy backpacker bar in Melbourne’s CBD and though I laughed heartily at her set, I was shocked at what I heard coming out of the mouth of the MC and many other performers that night. At times I wanted to walk out, to leave behind the string of racist, sexist, transphobic and ableist remarks that these guys had tried to pass off as “comedy.” It made me wonder why Tash and the other female comedian performing that night (on a set list of around 12) would stand up in a room like that and put up with that nonsense.

So this documentary asks the question: If there are countless funny ladies proving that the old adage that women aren’t funny is totally wrong, why are there still a lot fewer women (or female-identifying persons) at the grassroots level of the comedy world, in the open mic scene? I followed Tash to open mic nights around Melbourne and spoke with other women in the scene including comedian Lauren Bok, comedy writer Alex Neill, and Judith Lucy, the undeniable first lady of Australian comedy. My question was a hard one and the answer isn’t clear but it’s still a question worth asking. We need to keep asking these difficult questions in a world where women are still outnumbered in so many fields, where women are paid 17% less than men, and where women’s rights and voices are still being silenced. Ultimately, whatever the answer, more women need to get up, speak up and (do) stand up.

Pictured: Tash Rubinstein, Image credit: Kieran Butler

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