Comedians Getting Patriarchy Lattes (aka 'When Eric Met Females')
Originally not aired on 08/03/2020
It’s International Women’s Day and you know what means? The celebration of women everywhere – yes. The call for equality and the acknowledgement that there’s still lots of work to be done – sure. But the main thing it means is the start of a brand-new special series of my unrecorded podcast “When Eric Met Females.”
This series is all about self-improvement. In my younger, more laddy days, I was very immature. I’d make crude jokes and say the word pussy a lot. Now I’ve grown up a bit and watched a few Ted Talks, there’s only one “P” I wanna smash, and that’s the Patriarchy.
Over the next week I’m going to man-up (or rather “woman-up”) and start using my platform to ask the big questions. Questions like “What is a woman?”, “Where do they come from?”, and “Why does my tummy go funny when I see one I like?”
Let’s start with the first: what is a woman?
There are many different answers to this question. Biologically, a woman is a female human with two XX chromosomes and pronounced mammary glands. Mammary glands that many people pronounce, “boobs.” Culturally and sociologically, however, a woman is something very different. Simone De Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex that, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” From the number of MPs in Parliament to the number of people producing unrecorded podcasts, the world we live in is dominated by men. This penis-centric culture penetrates to our core and shapes who we become. Women’s actions are evaluated by how they affect men; they’re judged through the male gaze.
Well, one women that our deeply oppressive society has shaped beautifully into my gaze for this episode is the lovely Laura Wright. Shropshire born, fiercely independent and someone who can certainly hold their own in an arm-wrestle (I don’t wanna talk about it!), Laura has been in the comedy game for about a year now, but she has been a woman for much longer.
Not so much taking the comedy-scene by storm as by extremely-light drizzle, Laura has established herself as one-of-many-to-watch on the overpopulated open-mic circuit she’s trapped in. I thought I’d ask her what being on that sausage-heavy scene is like.
“It’s good,” she said. “Everyone’s actually really nice.”
“That’s so interesting,” I replied, sincerely. “Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty. Have you experienced much sexism in comedy?”
“Yeah, I have.”
I didn’t know what to say next. I get very nervous. I started babbling.
“Hey, you know that concept of women being judged by the male gaze? When I first heard that I thought it was that women are judged by “the male gays” and I thought “Why is it that women and gay men have such a sacred bond?””
“I’m not sure, Eric. I think that might be a stereotype.”
“That’s so interesting.”
Laura sighed and took a sip of her Chai Latte.
I seized up after that. I started worrying what Laura was thinking of me; whether I was making a fool of myself. I wanted to launch this podcast to do my bit for feminism and also capitalise on an increasingly marketable form of social justice to further my career. But at this point, I just felt like an awkward spotty boy who didn’t know how to talk to a girl. Perhaps this venture was a mistake, or more appropriately, a man-stake.
“I don’t think I have anything of substance to say Laura,” I said. “I’m sorry for wasting your time.”
Then something clicked. I realised that I was crumbling just because I wanted Laura to like and approve of me. I was trapped in her gaze, the female gaze. Or maybe female gay – I’m not sure of Laura’s sexual orientation. The point is that we’re all susceptible to being objects, to worrying how others see us. Maybe this could be a breakthrough point and I could understand a little bit more what it’s like to be a woman, and then I could be the white-male poster boy of feminism, breaking the divide between the genders and becoming more commercial than ever.
“Laura,” I said, looking up from my Chai. “I think I’ve figured it all out…”
She’d gone. Left without saying a word.
Probably on the blob isn’t she.
Hannah Priscilla Gray
Originally not aired on 13/03/2019
What do you think of when I say the word “businessman”?
Probably a man, right? Probably a middle-aged bloke in a suit. Probably someone who talks about minimising risk and maximising gains; someone who smokes a cigar while leering at their secretary and making lewd comments about her “damned fine ass”.
Well, prepare to have your worldview blown to smithereens yet again, because the businessman I’m talking to today is in fact a woman.
And that woman is the wonderful HANNAH PRISCILLA GRAY.
Not just a female-comedian, Hannah is also an extremely successful female-businessman. Running her own dressmaking shop in the Moseley area of Birmingham, Hannah has all the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur, including a string of sexual-misconduct allegations to her name. Those allegations all come from me, after seeing the way she checked out my plump posterior upon my entering the Costa in Kings Heath where we met.
“I bet you just want to bite into it, don’t you Hannah?” I said, as we sat down to start the interview.
“Bite into what?” She replied. “My toastie?”
“Of course,” I said, winking, feeling like the sexy little minx at an office Christmas party. “Anyway, enough of that. What made you want to start your own business?”
“Well,” she said, smiling. “I guess it’s maybe a bit of the American in me that wants their own slice of the pie, if you will.”
I should say at this point that Hannah is from a little country across the pond (more like the Atlantic Ocean lol) called America. America is a nation with a plethora of strong female role-models, like Beyonce, Lizzo, and the woman from the Statue of Liberty.
“What made you move to Birmingham of all places? And why dressmaking?”
“Firstly, I’ve always loved textiles,” she said. “And I was over here at a conference a few years ago and…”
Realising that female-businessmen can be just as boring as regular businessmen, I decided to interrupt.
“Okay that’s enough of that story,” I said. “Tell me about what it’s like being a female-comedian.”
“Actually Eric, I don’t really like the phrase ‘female-comedian’.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Why is that?” I asked, always the first to apologise for my mistakes so I can learn and be better equipped to fight for justice moving forward.
“It’s unnecessary,” she said. “It’s a way of emphasising difference. I’m a comedian; the fact that I’m female shouldn’t come into it. I write jokes and I perform them and that’s all that matters.”
We carried on chatting and the more we talked, the more I realised that my approach to this podcast had been wrong. Even with the good intentions I certainly had, my dwelling on the fact that Hannah is a woman had blocked me from seeing her properly. Her achievements deserved to be celebrated on their own merits, not just in the context of her being a woman.
“Hannah, I’m so sorry. All this time I’ve been building it up in my head that you’re this brilliant female-comedian and female-businessman, not realising that the female part is irrelevant.”
“So before I go,” I said, taking a final sip of my Chai Latte. “I want to say you’re brilliant without the female part. You’re a brilliant comedian and a brilliant businessman. Period. And not the leaking-blood kind, because that doesn’t matter to me.”
I began to pack away, and as I was doing so I noticed Hannah checking me out again.
“Eric,” she said. “This is a bit awkward, but I think you have bird crap down the back of your trousers.”
Tune in next time! X
Originally not aired on 11/03/2020
Go on, then.
Hide away. Isolate yourself. Panic.
You can take all the precautions you want, but eventually you’re gonna wanna start living life again. You’re gonna wanna go back to the workplace. Or use public transport. Or go to the shops. The thing you’re afraid of is everywhere.
And, no, I’m not talking about the Coronavirus… I’m talking about WOMEN.
For too long in society we’ve treated women like some kind of infection. Viral agents that get in the way and halt societal progress with their nagging. But I’m here with another episode of “When Eric Met Females” to tell you that assumption is wrong. Women are much more than the rigid gender roles we assign them. They’re your mother; they’re your sister; they’re your nurse; but also (in far too few cases for my liking), they’re your boss; they’re your doctor; they’re your lawyer. And in 50% of cases they’re YOU.
It’s time to meet today’s guest, and despite recent public-health warnings, I won’t be washing my hands after going to the toilet, or indeed ever again, after shaking hands with the beautiful Jules O’Brian.
Coming from Tamworth and not relying on a man for her damn-worth, Jules is fit, fierce and forgivably mistaken for being in her thirties (not the case though). On top of all of this, she is fucking funny.
From working in the corporate world, to being a teacher, Jules has done it all (well, mainly those two things) and now she’s trying her soft, lovely hands at comedy.
“It’s fair to say you’ve lived a life, Jules,” I said. “What made you want to do comedy at this late stage of it, the eleventh hour if you will?”
“Are you calling me old, Eric?” She replied.
“Ermm… I…. No?”
“Listen,” she said, like she was addressing a delinquent student after class, the tension between them palpable, their hot, stuffy uniforms the only thing stopping the whole thing from turning into an animalistic duel between two mammals of full sexual maturity. “When a woman gets to a certain age, society starts to think she can’t do things anymore. They’re completely discarded; they’re not allowed to start new projects like men are. They’re expected to just fade away from everything.”
“Right, okay,” I said. “I’d never want you to fade away, Jules.”
“But I have things to say,” she said, ignoring me. “I have experiences and opinions and I want to get it all out there. I’ve got so many things I wanna do and I don’t need anyone’s permission to start doing them.”
“You’re so right Jules,” I said, starting to nervously fiddle with my hands. “And I guess… you’re right about like age being a number or whatever… and I was… well I was thinking… I know there’s a bit of a gap, but like if you ever wanted to get another drink sometime… like a proper one… well, I’d love that… I’d be well up for it.”
There was a silence. A gap in the conversation that seemed to last forever, like that gap between sitting your exams and waiting for your A-level results. My future was resting on it.
“No, Eric. No.”
Tune in next time! X