Today the BBC announced they were to make sure every episode of shows like QI and Mock the Week are to have at least one female guest. My first reaction was along the lines of: ‘sure, this is coming from a good place, women should be greater represented in comedy. The idea behind this is a sound one.’ However, I don’t think this is the correct way to go about it in the slightest. Speaking as a young female, I felt embarrassed to hear that women would get such special treatment. From now on, even if it is untrue, every comedienne that is asked to appear on such shows will feel that they are just there to fit the BBC’s new criteria. They are being completely undermined.
Females comics don’t get half the recognition they deserve and some of the funniest people in the industry I know of are women. For example Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe, Dolly Wells, Morgana Robinson, Roisin Conaty, Sarah Millican and Aisling Bea, are amongst some of my favourites. I think women add a valuable new dimension to such panel shows. They make it interesting. So seeing my favourite comediennes on television is always a highlight for me as like most people, they have earned their place on the panel. Years of hard work goes in before people come anywhere near to performing on programmes like Mock the Week.
It makes me sad to think that the women mentioned above may feel undervalued in the future when invited to appear on BBC panel shows because they deserve to be commended for their hard work. In many cases, they deserve additional recognition purely for the way they have surfaced above the hundreds of male comics in the UK while facing constant discrimination along the way. How many times have you heard the phrase: ‘she’s funny for a female comic’ or ‘no female comics are ever funny’. These make my blood boil- do they have no idea that humour is not purely in your genetic information? Have they not stopped to consider that intelligence, wit and life experiences might have some influence?