Monday, November 9, 2015

Not Helping Feminism?/Submitting to Misogyny

A couple years ago many of my Arizona comedy pals had a mass exodus of our improv group. It was time for me to go too. I knew my final year of grad school should be spent focusing on my thesis, and the group was getting younger anyway. The director put together a final send-off show on a Sunday night. It was pretty packed, and it was a great night for all of us. We bowed, and I felt a bittersweet twinge for these four other guys who were moving on. And then something "organic" happened. The director took the mic and thanked the huge crowd for coming out. But then he went on to say how much the group meant to him. Hm. And then he rambled about the legacy of the group. (At this point the audience started squirming a little. They just watched an hour plus of improv and were kinda ready to scoot.) Then the director starting giving personal shout-outs to guys who had been in the group when he was just starting. Then he gave little speeches about each of the guys leaving on stage. He said something like, "These guys are the funniest people and my best friends, and the ladies are lovely as well." It was pretty embarrassing. I was hurt too--I considered this person my friend. Oh well, it was almost over. NOPE, PSYCH. He handed the mic to someone else onstage. The audience let out a collective discomforted sigh and waited while three other dudes gave basically the same speech calling out the same dudes from previous generations. Not a single guy recognized the female director who had cast most of them initially. Not a single one called out any of the women who had been on teams with them. My female teammate took the mic and gave gratitude this is how she met her boyfriend, an ex-cast member. The whole goo-fest was probably fifteen minutes strong when I got the mic last. I, again, was feeling bad for the audience who was listening to this pretty self-referential sludge, so gave a polite shake of my head and the night was over. I had been thinking about what the group meant to me though. I just chose to appropriately tell the important people I met in-person, not assuming a crowd of strangers wanted to hear about it.

Some of those important people (specifically three other girls I formed an independent group with) were in the audience that night. I hugged them and told them why they meant so much to me. "But you didn't say it onstage!" Kale said. It was such a trap, I realized. I wasn't egotistical enough to sing my own squad's praises, and therefore, they went unsung. I didn't mean to submit to misogyny. I didn't mean to quiet the very few and underrepped female voices in comedy. I acted rationally as a person regardless of gender, but.
Shellz and I writing sketch comedy years ago.

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