Women on Panel Shows

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Harridan
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Just listened to this interview with Josie Long: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1oXIZVLthw

and she raised an interesting point about the women on panel shows. She posits that women comedians are not less numerous than male comedians, but that they get less visibility for two reasons: 1. They get beaten down by the constant sexism and give up. 2. TV gigs that should go to female comedians go to female TV presenters, actors or reality stars.

I thought that was quite an interesting point that I had never considered before. Women on panel shows are rarely particularly funny, but almost all of the time they aren't comics, so of course they aren't as funny as the four male comedians they're sitting with. A heck of a lot of stand-ups are making names for themselves by appearing on panel shows, so if female comics aren't getting a chance to appear on these shows is it surprising that there aren't that many arena-filling female comedians?


What do you guys think?

(If all you think is "Women just aren't funny" we'll just assume that that opinion has been stated already, so no need to post it)
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zooo
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That is a very good point. I'm not sure I'd noticed it before.
See: Jamelia.
 
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Harridan
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Quote: zooo @ February 20 2012, 5:50 PM GMT

That is a very good point. I'm not sure I'd noticed it before.
See: Jamelia.


And Carol Vorderman, Fern Britten, Claudia Winkleman, Vanessa Feltz... I see them on panel shows far more often than female comedians.
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Tursiops
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To be honest it is difficult to think of many female comedians who have cut it when given the opportunity. And I am very much thinking of Josie Long when I say that.

Not that there have not been some great female panellists. The late Linda Smith, fellow News Quiz stalwarts Sandi Toksvig and Susan Calman. Sarah Millican.

But more often on panel shows the token female comic is a Gina Yashere weak link. Hence panel shows casting the net wider for female panellists than stand-ups.

The truth is there is actually quite a small pool of comics used on panel shows, and they are there because they are a safe bet. Personally I would like to see a broader range of guests, both male and female, stand-up and otherwise.
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AJGO
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This is a vast, vast generalisation, but I feel like women don't shout as much as men and so lots of panel shows aren't that great a platform for female comedians as they don't tend to butt in or keep repeating themselves until heard and so either don't get a chance to speak without people going 'that gobby one' or they get edited out.

Think casting a wider net amongst famous women rather than female stand-up circuit is shoddy.
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Harridan
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@timbo
I would agree with you that often the female comic doesn't rule the show, but I think that's because they're choosing the wrong comics! I mean, The News Quiz, as you say, has consistently funny women - they don't seem to have any trouble finding funny women. I can't see how the answer is to choose pretty women who will at least wear a tight top, rather than looking for female comics whose style suits the humour of the show.
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zooo
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The sad thing is, many of the shows probably think they're doing a good deed by 'letting' some women on.
Even though they're completely the wrong women.
 
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Harridan
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Quote: zooo @ February 20 2012, 6:12 PM GMT

The sad thing is, many of the shows probably think they're doing a good deed by 'letting' some women on.


I mean, it's not like women are 50% of the population or anything!

It amazes me that you can turn on any panel show (or news show, chatshow etc.) and it will be 90%-100% men and no one thinks that's odd. And the only show that is all women is the ghastly Loose Women.
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Shandonbelle
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Yes, but take any of the presenters of Loose Women and they may do well on a show like Mock The Week, the women they have on panel shows seem to hardly utter a word, and are totally out of their depth in the quick fire one liner round at the end...
 
Does anyone even read these things?
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Tursiops
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Quote: Harridan @ February 20 2012, 6:16 PM GMT

And the only show that is all women is the ghastly Loose Women.


Not that this would be cause and effect... *innocent*
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Harridan
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Quote: Timbo @ February 20 2012, 6:21 PM GMT

Not that this would be cause and effect... *innocent*


Well that would be annoying! To have those women representing all of us! Can't Sandi Toksvig and Jenny Murray be our representatives?
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Aaron
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Quote: Harridan @ February 20 2012, 5:35 PM GMT

She posits that women comedians are not less numerous than male comedians, but that they get less visibility for two reasons: 1. They get beaten down by the constant sexism and give up.


Um. Doesn't the latter point nullify the former?
 
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Harridan
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Quote: Aaron @ February 20 2012, 6:41 PM GMT

Um. Doesn't the latter point nullify the former?


Not necessarily - If it's a case of sticking it out through the years of obscurity before you start getting noticed many female comics may be giving up before they get noticed, but the numbers might be replenished by new acts starting out. Josie Long actually suggests that there are more female comics than male comics, but as I'm not a comic I wouldn't know how accurate that is.
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Aaron
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Quote: Harridan @ February 20 2012, 6:16 PM GMT

I mean, it's not like women are 50% of the population or anything!


50.6%, actually. ;)


Quote: Harridan @ February 20 2012, 6:46 PM GMT

Not necessarily - If it's a case of sticking it out through the years of obscurity before you start getting noticed many female comics may be giving up before they get noticed, but the numbers might be replenished by new acts starting out. Josie Long actually suggests that there are more female comics than male comics, but as I'm not a comic I wouldn't know how accurate that is.


Hmm... Interesting.


Mm. Well, interesting observation on her second point anyway. I suspect it's a massive self-perpetuating circle born from the history of comedy and light entertainment being far more aimed toward men than is now the case. And I don't know what the answer is. A comedy show that puts anyone and everyone half-decent from the club circuit on screen?
 
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Renegade Carpark
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Some good points raised. Perhaps most female comics aren't cut out for the aggressive, one liner, bearpit atmosphere of the panel show genre and there's nothing wrong with that.

More likely, the female comedians coming through into the television world are chosen because they are safe, bland and inoffensive. In a genre that is becoming increasingly female led in terms of production and commissioning, there really can't be any excuse for sexism.

Holly Walsh I think typifies this type of new female comic. She's not particularly funny or interesting, but neither is she outrageous or controversial, she just seems to be there, doing not a lot. (except waiting for the cringeworthy pity laugh from the audience presumably)

But as others have pointed out, if you are making a panel show, then you are going to choose safe hands to helm the ship. Nobody wants to bin an entire episode of a series in the name of affirmative action.

Maybe they should do an all woman panel show - not that I'd watch it - but it might be good for morale. They could even have a sing-song and a bit of a dance at the end like those all woman sketch shows do.
 
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