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What I think about when I think about gigging.

Jenny speaks into mic

I’m here, I’m not late, I should go for a wee.

Ok, I’m back- find the MC. Am I talking to much? I’m definitely smiling too much. Line up? YES there’s another woman. Now that I’m not having to represent ALL women comedians on my own tonight, I can relax, think about set. I’m on in the second half, OK, I’d better just pop for a wee.

Right, so- check out the audience. No women over 30 obvs. There goes all my birth stuff and aging fanny stuff. Young single blokes mainly – so basically no observational material tonight. I’ll not win over this audience of hipsters with the ‘pissing myself on a trampoline’ bit, they won’t be wiping the tears away crying, ‘That’s sooo TRUE’. Also hard to tell shagging jokes when you’re basically their mum. Just about to start, better go for one last wee.

This is a good night, enjoying the acts so far- this bloke doesn’t seem to be doing so well, poor guy he’s… wait, was that a twisted rape joke? Was he being ironic? Am I a bitch if I don’t laugh? No, it’s ok, no one else is laughing- hang on, should I feel sorry for him? No, fuck him, he told a really nasty joke, stop being nice- be angry. Wow this guy really hates women, this just got weird, he’ll probably switch to paedophile jokes in a… there we go. God this is awkward, please finish and leave so we can get this over with. I can’t believe he’s actually running over. So glad I’m not going on next, he’s killed the room – Oooh get me ‘killed the room’ like a proper comedian.

Interval. One good thing about comedy nights- only time there’s never a queue for the ladies.

Chatting with the other acts, turns out the woman-hater is a bit of a legend on the circuit, apparently he’s an adorable eccentric. The other acts are great, a few I’ve gigged with before, others I know from Facebook posts. One obnoxious 20-year-old whose set I thought was a bit boring, reckons he’s a total pro and has decided we all need to benefit from his wisdom, which is fun. Apparently I should focus on talking about ‘what I know’. I point out that’s a bit hard when you have so little shared experience with the audience, he just shrugs and says ‘Hey, funny is funny’. I imagine headbutting him in the face and watching him try to reassemble his shattered nose with blood drenched fingers while I laugh cos, you know, funny is funny. I smile and say, ‘Yeah, good point, thanks’.

Right second half, quick wee before I go on.

The other female act is on, what is she wearing, is that a tank top? It makes her boobs look huge. Am I judging another woman based on what she looks like? Oh great, I’m as bad as the rape joke guy now. Focus on her jokes, focus on her jokes, stop looking at her breasts, is she wearing a bra? Stop it, look at her face. That was a good line, she’s funny. Of course, THAT’s her most prominent feature, it doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. I’m not a horrendously judgemental rubbish feminist, I know that she is defined by what she says not what she looks like and above all SHE IS FUNNY. That is what I shall take away from her performance. That is what I’ll remember when I look back at this gig. When I’m at home in bed tonight I’ll think, ‘Hey, tits-girl was hilarious’.

The bloke with the glasses is doing a bit about how hard it is being single when you’re a geek. His girlfriend and I are loving it. Now it’s me. I’m up. God I love this.

Coping with rejection.

reject

Lots of people say to me, Hey, Jenny, you’re a freelance writer and comedian, but you’re not that good, so how do you cope with the inevitable rejection you must face on a near daily basis?

Well, generally I try not to learn anything from previous experiences as we all know an open mind and ability to adapt is a sign of weakness. All I can do, is tell you how I try to survive the crushing, emotional cruelty of rejection. Number 4 will blow your mind!!!!!

  • Take it personally. Always remember that they are not just rejecting a single piece of work for a variety of reasons that may have nothing to do with the quality of your work. No they are rejecting you as a whole. THEY DON’T LIKE YOU. You are not funny, you are not clever and everyone is faintly embarrassed that you even tried. It’s important to remember this as you go through the rejection process, just in case somebody else’s problems start to seem more important than yours.

 

  • Obsess. Maybe I can illustrate this with an example. The other day I experienced rejection, I forget what it was now, didn’t get something I did published/recorded/ retweeted. Anyway, the same day my friend was sacked from his job which was going to make it difficult for him to pay for his mother’s funeral. With the benefit of hindsight, any reasonable third party would see how our misfortunes were equally as devastating. However the crucial difference on this day was that he was able to rationally process events and, while allowing himself time to express his emotions, he was able to move on and begin planning for the future. I couldn’t do this, therefore I was far worse off than him because not only was I worthless enough to be rejected, I was also rubbish at taking rejection. A double blow. My misfortunes clearly took priority, but rather than spend the night drinking with me, he went home to work on his CV. Some people are just selfish bastards.

 

  • Drink. Some times when you feel helpless, you might as well exacerbate the problem.

 

  • Plot revenge. This may seem petty and trivial, but it’s nowhere near as petty or trivial than…

 

  • Massively resent the success of others. I find it helpful to think that however talentless I may be, I’m shedloads better than that person on Facebook who had a nice thing happen to them today. What the hell have they done to deserve that -other than gestated the foetus for 40 weeks- Fuck-all that’s what.

 

 

rejection2

You may think that comparing yourself to others is a pointless exercise and counter-productive as it can only lead to further self-doubt and negativity. But this is actually crucial to the process of coping with rejection as it is not until you have hit rock bottom, can you look up, think of the future and…

  • Quit

5 Reasons to hate January

 

snow

  1. People who don’t drink are lovely, interesting, funny people I enjoy being around. People who don’t drink for a bit are as dull as hell and make me want to kill. If you can cut back without advertising every small sacrifice, then good for you. If on the other hand you have to analyse how much your life has changed and how much stronger/superior you are may I suggest try being pregnant where you’re not allowed to do any-goddam-thing for nearly a year and even then you can’t go out because you have leaking nipples a broken fanny and oh yeah, a baby. Stop whining and have a sodding drink, or not, but seriously stop whining.

 

  1. January is basically the worst month to be on Facebook. If it’s not Dryanuary updates, it’s cringingly awful inspirational quotes. Thankfully it seems to be tailing off now, but for the first week of the new year looking at my timeline was like having Yoga shove page upon page of The Little Book of Calm into every orifice until I exploded in a shower of minions. I don’t even get me started on Bill, that passive aggressive little bitch.

 

  1. Then there’s the weather. Thanks to the ‘White Christmas’ mythology, we all delude ourselves into thinking that by the New Year, that’s the season pretty much wrapped up and we can get on with the new year, spring, fresh starts, new shoots and all that- BUT NO. The fact is we are only just hitting the middle of deepest winter, and now it’s not the holidays anymore, we actually have to get shit done. Most of winter weather isn’t even fun, pretty snow, it’s miserable grey rain, and endless mud. Climate change isn’t helping either, chucking in the odd week of oddly high temperatures to fool you into putting the electric blanket away, before another freeze. And I can’t complain (though I’m clearly having a good go), it’s not as if I’ve been affected by the floods.

 

  1. The news hasn’t helped either. It’s a bloody miracle Lemmy lasted this long, but Bowie, and Rickman? Not helped by the fact that everywhere you look you see Donald Trump’s hate-spiting red face, reminding us that the world ratio of top blokes to dickheads is slipping in the wrong direction.

 

  1. The worst thing about January is that I should love it. My birthday and wedding anniversary are both in the middle, but nobody is in the mood to celebrate anything. After the excesses of Christmas we’re all feeling too skint, fat, sober and cold. January is the hangover of the year, the post coital shiver of shame, the gunge at the bottom of the bin. The best thing I can say about January is at least it’s not February.

An Open Letter To My Son

Pen
This picture really doesn’t add anything does it?

Every now and then there is a spate of open letters in the media and at the moment it seems if we’re not writing to Jeremy Hunt we’re writing to our kids. It’s not like Jeremy Hunt will ever read his, you can’t appeal to someone’s better side if they don’t have one, but as I’m not a junior doctor and I don’t really know any (unless you count a four-year-old in fancy dress), I’ve decided I’m going to pen one of the open letter to your kids sort, because I haven’t done one before and I think it’s what good mothers are meant to do nowadays. I’m a terrible mum, I don’t blog about my kids half as much as I used to. Sure, they are just in the other room, and I could just go through and speak to them, but I don’t want to cut out the middle man, especially if the middle man is hundreds of potential anonymous readers.

My inspiration is a couple of open letters to kids which have dominated social media recently. The first is the passive aggressive, ‘Letter to my 10-year-old son’, from a poor mum who probably just wanted to highlight how the role of mothers is often taken for granted, but ended up sounding like she just wanted her pelvic floor back. The second is Caitlin Moran’s funny, charming advice to her daughter in case she (Moran) dies prematurely. In both cases, but for different reasons, I do hope the kids in question don’t actually read their letters. So here we go, half heartfelt-advice and half passive-aggressive bitterness. Here’s a fun game- see if you can spot the difference.

Dear Son

  1. Care about other people – You don’t have to dedicate your life to charity work, or tirelessly campaign for the poor and weak. Just don’t throw litter, don’t cheat or lie, pay your taxes and try to do the decent thing. It matters if someone suffers from your actions even if that someone isn’t directly related to you.

  2. Tidy your room. Do you think I went through the pain of childbirth to pick up your socks?

  3. Don’t confuse manners with deference. Always try to be polite, but remember that regardless of how senior someone is, or what they’ve achieved, no one earns the right to be a twat.

  4. However when you forget to say thank you to me, remember that I surrendered my pert breasts and nice bras to suckle your ungrateful little face.

  5. Genuine facts are rare. If someone says to you ‘It’s a fact that….’ they are almost always going to follow it up with some subjective opinionated bullshit. And that’s a fact. Also if you turn out to be the sort of person who approaches conversations as competitions rather than experiences then stay away from social media, and also conversations.

  6. If you don’t want me to rip open my shirt and rub your face in my caesarean scar in front of all your friends, then answer me when I’m talking to you.

  7. Perfect is boring. Perfect is not a target.

  8. Given that I gave up my career to stay at home and take care of you, the least you can do is eat your f*cking peas.

  9. Grow Stuff – whether it’s an allotment or a window box. There’s some commitment and a bit of responsibility, but you’ll get far more out of it than you put in.

  10. Remember that every time you dump your dirty football kit on the floor, it just reminds me that stretch marks don’t wash out.

  11. Don’t risk your health or wellbeing to impress others. When mates encourage you to get so drunk you’re sick, drag you into a fight or harass you into accepting a dare they aren’t doing it to give you the opportunity to prove you’re a legend. They are doing it to show off that they can make this idiot do anything. Also girls who are attracted to bad boys are always an absolute nightmare. Be nice and happy and safe.

  12. The reason I nag you to do your homework is because I love you and I want you to do well. Otherwise all my hard work and sacrifice will have meant nothing and that will be your fault, AND my fault. But mostly your fault.

  13.  Don’t try to be a victim when you’re not. You are a white, middle class, male born in a first world country. 99% of the time, you’re fine.

Love Mum

Poor Tim Hunt – sort of

Miss Nellie A. Brown; L to R: Miss Lucia McCollock, Miss Mary K. Bryan, Miss Florence Hedges
Put down your test-tubes and give us a smile girls.

Brian Cox and Boris Johnson don’t have loads in common, other than the hair thing and the fact they have both jumped to the defence of Nobel winning scientist Tim Hunt. Professor Hunt got himself into a lot of trouble last week with his comments about ‘girls’ in labs and subsequently resigned from his positions at UCL and The Royal Society. Boris and Brian’s appeals for reason really highlight the differences between someone who understands science and the nature of evidence and someone who thinks girls go to university to find a husband.

Boris – not a scientist- Johnson, rather embarrassingly used evidence to prove that Professor Hunt was right about girls crying, because evidence shows that women do cry more than men. Boris doesn’t think it should be an offense to point out these gender differences, presumably making it also ok to point out how much more men commit violent crimes than women. Begging the question is there a problem with letting men into mixed gender workplaces because boys can get a bit rapey? Seriously, shush Boris, you’re not doing Tim any favours by being on his side, now get back into your basket you crazy albino.

Professor Brian -actual scientist- Cox, didn’t defend Tim Hunt’s comments, just said that he shouldn’t have lost his job over them, which seems fair enough. Hunt’s words and thoughts, while irritating and offensive, are just words and thoughts- not actions. There is no evidence that he has discriminated against women in the work place. To fire him because he has the potential to discriminate, or other people just don’t like him, is a bit too thought-police. I’m not going to stop sending my nana Christmas cards because she calls black people ‘darkies’ either.

Was Professor Hunt really ‘hounded out’ by social media? If so I missed it, all I saw was some fairly reasonable irritation and some rather excellent piss-taking. Twitter doing some good with the ensuing #distractinglysexy hashtag undoing the harm and promoting women in science, happily the only reported tears were from laughter.  People on Twitter are always calling for resignations, but since when did we take ‘people on Twitter’ so seriously? They say a lot of shit, you’ll notice they aren’t literally Laughing Out Loud either.
Still, The Royal Society and University College London lost their bottle and caved in to the pressure, not helped by Professor Hunt who apologised by saying his comments were intended as a joke, but that he meant what he said and he was just being honest, the second part seemingly contradicting the first.

Hunt gets the chop but Phillip Larkin gets honoured in Poet’s Corner and he said a lot worse- what’s the difference? Twitter? How much people love ‘This Be The Verse’? The fact that Larkin is dead and doesn’t have to give appraisals to besotted, sobbing employees? Or that Larkin owned his words, for the most part shunning honours whereas Hunt said something very stupid, and still expects everyone to think he’s clever.

I do feel sorry for Professor Hunt, I’m sure he is a very nice man and he should still have his job, but let’s not forget, his damaged reputation is his own fault. The professor is finding out what it’s like to have your career blighted by a single moment of human weakness. You work hard all your life to achieve a level of respect in your field then one stupid joke, one single tear and you’re branded a ‘sexist pig’ or a ‘crying girl’.

Thank Christ for Kate Moss.

Kate Moss
It’s like looking in a mirror.

Having just seen Virgins Sex Pistols inspired credit cards and dragging my eyes through and article about pop ‘rivals’ Katy Perry and Taylor Swift writing vaguely pissy songs at each other, Kate Moss has saved my laptop from being coated with vomit.

Thank you Kate for being the last vestige of rock and roll. Thank you for being gorgeous and a bit pissed on an aeroplane like all fabulously wealthy supermodels should. When celebrities get angry, they don’t swear or scream or throw things, they tell each other how they are feeling and then they cry. Which is what they also do when they are happy/sad /accepting an award/in the vicinity of Oprah Winfrey, horrible boring celebrities. Kate Moss isn’t a celebrity, she’s a genuine famous person with dimensions and flaws and perfections.

I’m not going to let the fact that the aeroplane incident really isn’t a story spoil my enjoyment. According to fellow passengers Ms Moss was no bother at all ‘she was not aggressive to anyone and was funny really’. The flight crew WERE actually behaving like a bunch of basic bitches and called the police who did nothing, because there was nothing to do. But of course we still got the headlines about a paralytic prima-donna being dragged off a plane, which may not be true, but still made my day.

The Daily Mail particularly seems to dislike Kate Moss, last week they ran a story about how she had the audacity to ask Andrew Marr if she could have his seat in a busy café as he’d clearly finished his coffee. What. A. Bitch. Of course I don’t always agree with everything Kate says and does, but that’s because one of us isn’t a global fashion icon so there are bound to be some different interpretations of reality. Anyone who thinks that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, clearly hasn’t got a whole box of Oreo ice creams in her freezer, for example.

There is undoubtedly more than a little bit of misogyny about how this non-incident has been reported. Suzanne Moore in the Guardian points out that Moss’ disruptive behaviour wasn’t actually disruptive, unlike many celebrity antics, but it has been exaggerated in certain parts of the media because: ‘There is nothing that disgusts these people more than a woman enjoying herself’.

Yes, she was drinking – the hussy- another example of press double-standards is the way they report alcoholism. Last month Jed Evans Killed his sister, mother and her partner, just a few days later the DM was suggesting that the mother’s alcoholism was to blame. The penalty for being a flawed mother is death apparently. Men who are alcoholics are tortured self-harmers deserving pity; women are selfish destroyers of other people’s lives deserving what they get. Notice how stories about drunken tourists are always illustrated with a picture of an inebriated woman, because that’s more disgraceful? President Obama has a beer for breakfast at the G7 and he’s respecting a cultural tradition, I pop open a can of Carling at toddler group and I have a ‘problem’.

So screw them Kate, stay supercool, and I’ll ride with you anytime (maybe not on EasyJet though).

It’s not enough to survive; now we have to give birth ‘properly’

Cesarian birth
‘Who the fuck are you guys?’

Defend your gussets ladies, birth is under attack again. A strange doctor has written a book telling us that we risk forgetting how to do it ‘properly’, and that woman who looks like Death from Horrible Histories has been gloating that she did it ‘properly’ and is therefore a ‘proper’ mum. Crazy Katie says that giving birth naturally without (lots of) drugs makes her ‘feel like a proper mum because I gave birth to my children without much fuss.’ saving the fuss for her radio show and several news articles. Sadly if the way she gave birth genuinely makes Katie Hopkins feel like a good mum, one can only presume it’s because little else does.

I’ve had a range of birth experiences, and for the record, I felt the same level of ‘mumness’ for each of them. My first was a straight forward NVD (Normal Vaginal Delivery), supported by gas and air and screaming profanities. The second was a tranquil birthing pool birth with midwives present, but not really doing anything. I even fished my new-born baby out of the water myself, lazy cows. The third birth was a full on medicalised, chemically induced labour followed by emergency caesarean.  I therefore feel fairly qualified to say that if you gave birth naturally without huge amounts of pain relief then you are not an exceptionally all-powerful ultra-mum; you are lucky, as it is generally a far better experience.

It is a myth that C-sections are the easy way out. Maybe if people stopped making birth a big test of motherhood and defining the experience by pain and endurance, perhaps women wouldn’t be scared into booking elective caesareans. So nice one Katie- good work, Moron.

Dr Michel Odent is a strange fish. Unlike Katie Hopkins he has some training on the subject so I tried to take him seriously. Sadly this didn’t last long as Dr Odent recommends that in order to calm a woman during labour, men should never be present and that midwives should be ‘knitting in the corner’. I doubt any women would feel especially calm, left alone with a crazy knitting woman. Although, I did once have a midwife break my waters with what looked suspiciously like a crochet-hook. At the time I thought it was a genuine medical instrument, now I’m wondering if there was a half-made beanie hat hanging off the end.

Dr Odent argues that medical intervention is causing women to lose the ability to give birth, but given the horrendous maternal death rates through history and in still in developing countries, you have to wonder if we were ever that good at it. I get that birth can be unnecessary medicalised sometimes, but I’d argue that having maternal death rates in the UK closer to 1 in 10,000 from 1 in 5 a few hundred years ago, is progress. Maybe I’m missing the point, perhaps it doesn’t matter who survives as long as it’s done ‘properly’ and someone gets a sweater.

There is no easy way to have a baby. The adoption process is sufficiently tough to make me seriously prefer having a baby ripped out of my nose. You should be proud of yourself for giving birth any way. If it genuinely makes you feel superior to other women because you had an easier, more straight-forward ride, then bare in mind what you’re basically saying is ‘My mucus plug popped out like a champagne cork and my cervix is like a waterslide. Fortunately I also have a very stretchy fanny, it’s exceptionally accommodating, usually I just use it for storage’. Still bragging?