I’ve always loved stand-up comedy. I was very lucky to have my very own comedian of sorts growing up, in the form of my Italian (but grew up in London) Grandad Papa . His cheeky sort of cockney one-liners always got a laugh, even in the most inappropriate of moments. When he passed away in 2007, my sister made a photo montage and decorated it with a collection of his best punchlines, which raised a giggle or two even at his very heart-breaking funeral. We still use his material today.
I suppose my love of stand up came out of having role models like him around. Naturally hilarious people always make me laugh so loudly I look a bit crazy, and then also hate them a little bit for having wit of which I can only dream. I watch their sets again and again, eagerly awaiting new DVDs and appearances on Mock The Week and the like.
My problem is, I only seem able to appreciate male comedians in this way. And, unfortunately, this appears to be true of many others. I don’t know whether this is because men and women view comedy in different ways. I don’t really know why men love comedians, although from my experience I think they mostly want to relate to them, in a ‘I wish I’d thought of that’, matey, locker-room humour way.
Women, on the other hand, seem to find funny eminently shaggable. Too many of my female friends and I seem to buy DVDs of only male comedians’ gigs, and discuss them with a sneaky glint in our eyes. We have soft spots for Russell Howard, Eddie Izzard, even (dare I say it) the bonkers Michael McIntyre.
I suppose, apart from the ‘funny = sexy’ thing, I’ve also got into the habit of judging female comedy acts far too harshly. ‘Oh, she’s moaning about men too much. How predictable.’ ‘She’s trying to sound like a man to get more laughs.’ Just because I haven’t giggled in the high-pitched way you do when you’re twelve and your first crush says anything at all to you, apparently this means I don’t enjoy their humour.
Along came Sarah Millican to completely, utterly change my mind:
She is so ridiculously witty, and delivers her sets with such precision, that pretty much every word she says makes fresh giggles erupt from within me. Her appearances on panel shows has destroyed the myth that these programmes have an ‘honorary woman’ who never seems to say much – her performances always steal the show.
She doesn’t use the ‘aren’t men stupid’ card too much, and when she does it’s in a way that is refreshingly inventive. She can be deliciously dark but still manages to deliver the lines about dancing on her ex-husband’s grave or peeing on his toothbrush with the normality and warmth that means you still absolutely would want to give her a cuddle. Or, you know, something less totally creepy, like wave at her if you saw her in Tesco.
She also seems to celebrate being a woman who does womanly things, like worrying about her body image, and eating more cake than that kid on Matilda, but she manages to make fun of herself without playing the ‘downtrodden woman’ card, and all her material is still so refreshing.
She proves herself to be so delightfully hilarious, that half the time before she even opens her mouth you already feel fully confident you will belly-laugh to the point of embarrassing yourself. That’s not something I’ve felt with many women comedians before, but it’s making me look at female comedy through new eyes and realise the other fantastic contributions women make to stand up, such as Victoria Wood, Jo Brand and Gina Yashere. So there we have it: women ARE funny. I’m 100% converted.
Sarah Millican is appearing tonight on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and I’d V+ it if I were you. I’d also highly recommend you go and see her at her Chatterbox Tour which has been extended massively recently. Some friends and I decided we’d try to book tickets at one of the venues near us. Not surprisingly, they’re all sold out. Point made.
(P.S Some of the later dates in the South East do seem to have the odd ticket flying about – well worth a try if you can get it.)
Photo taken from her Official Site with uber amounts of cheekiness (pleeeeease don’t sue me. I’m being nice!). It’s a great site – you should go check it out. And follow the lovely lady herself on Twitter: @SarahMillican75