Originally not aired on ??/??/????
This series of the podcast has been a bit of a sausage festival so far, and I’ve really been struggling to change it. For some reason, when I sidle up to a female comedian at a gig with my characteristically hunched posture and whisper into their ears about how I’d love them to be on my unrecorded podcast, they get a bit creeped out.
“Come and meet me for an off-mic chat over a Chai,” I say.
“Fuck right off,” they reply.
I get it. I really do. You hear some horror stories in this industry about men wielding their power in an effort to exploit women, and someone with a platform as big as mine has to tread carefully and be a bit more sensitive to how things could come across. These women are thinking: yeah I could go on his podcast, get myself known by his dozens of fans and then bask in the fame it will bring me, but what’s he gonna want in return.
Nothing. I want nothing. I just want a Chai with my favourite type of person to discuss the human condition with: a stand-up comedian.
Today’s guest, Freya Mallard, is someone who – just like me – wants a comedy industry where women don’t have to constantly be vigilant against threats. Freya used to be a cheerleader, but now – again, just like me – she’s first and foremost a cheerleader for women in comedy.
“I just want women to feel comfortable,” Freya told me.
“There’s no one who wants to make women more comfortable than me, Freya,” I replied, loving that I was talking to someone that gets it.
“One time my sister stayed round my house and I let her have my bed while I slept on the sofa, so that’s the kind of guy you’re dealing with.”
“That’s very good of you, Eric.”
What I didn’t tell Freya was that after about an hour I texted my sister to say my back was hurting and then we switched. But Freya didn’t need to know about this. Besides, it’s all about intention.
“Who are your influences?” I asked. “Who made you want to get into comedy? Who are your guys? Or girls, obviously. I use guys in a completely gender-neutral way. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay. I’ve always really liked Josie L—“
“Long. Josie Long. Love her. Fantastic comic.”
“Yeah. I’d say probably her and Fern Br—“
“Brady. I love Fern Brady. Love what she’s doing for comedy. Big influence. When I first saw her, it didn’t even occur to me that she was a woman. It’s like with you, Freya. My first thought was: get her on because she’s talented. Then much, much later, I thought: oh yeah, I suppose she is a woman.”
There was a long pause while we both thought about how unjust the industry is.
“What do you think of these bloody panel shows, then?” I said, sighing. “It’s like – ‘can we get some representation PLEASE?’ In fact, I’m done with asking politely. I honestly think that if they don’t change, we should just refuse to even be a part of th—“
“Eric,” Freya said, interrupting me (which is obviously fine considering the amount of mansplaining she must have to deal on a day-to-day basis, not to mention the UNPAID emotional labour women have to do as the result of men not being able to work through their feelings properly). “I’m not enjoying this at all. I came here for a chat about stand up, and so far you’ve just been a total weirdo. I’m gonna leave, and I suggest you don’t ask me to do your stupid podcast ever again.”
Freya picked up her stuff and left.
A woman that knows her own mind. THIS is what we need in comedy.
See you next time! x