It's surely a Circuit Training first: interviewing an act during her lunch hour. Over Skype from an office in London, it's Megan Ford, who first blipped on our radars at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe with her debut hour Feminasty, which threw a bit of everything at media sexism - stand-up, characters, rapping - and really grabbed the patriarchy by the man-pussy. And now it's back.
An anglophile and aspiring actor, Ford moved over from Florida to study thespianism, theatre, and particularly Shakespeare, but now "I can't think of anything I'm less interested in." Well, he was a well-off white guy, which is a voice she's heard more than enough of. Indeed, there are certain well-off white fellas whose views are freaking out most of us right now... but it's actually the liberal types who are really infuriating Ford. We'll get to that.
Feminasty makes a timely return at London's Vault Festival on 17th and 18th February, then on the 28th she'll be appearing at Bethfest, a one-off 'night of chaos' raising funds for the much-admired comedy agent Beth O'Brien, who needs medical treatment in the US. Hosted by Bec Hill and Jim Campbell, it also features McNeil & Pamphilon (from Dara O Briain's Go 8 Bit), Lazy Susan, The Beta Males, Sad Faces and Jay Foreman. That's at London's newest comedy venue, The Bill Murray, which is well worth checking out.
Right, let's get back to the righteous anger...
How would you describe Feminasty?
I kind of think of it as a variety show - characters, sketches, stand-up, music. It's my first show, so it's a bit of a showcase as well, I show everything that I can do.
It's mostly about the misrepresentation of gender in media. Which is hilarious... I started writing it in 2012-13, after this feminist slow awakening, not being able to enjoy anything in the media, movies and TV as well as news. Because it permeates and influences us so much.
It came a lot out of anger. 'What's pissing me off? Ok, I'll write about that.'
The range of stuff you do is impressive: singing, rapping...
I was in a double act for a while where I ended up singing a lot, and I really don't consider myself a singer - whenever it was karaoke I just rapped. Hip-hop has always been my favourite music.
I think it comes from my theatre background, that I had the ethos, 'I just need to put on a show' - make it really spangly, the aesthetic, all the costumes and the wigs. But I'm starting to move away from that now. Partly, it's a lot of work, carrying suitcases around when you do gigs.
Stand-up is supposed to be lo-fi really, just someone with a mic.
The stand-up parts were always the parts I felt less comfortable with, but I'm starting to do more stand-up because I'm really motivated right now, about what's going on politically - again it's all coming from anger. It feels like so urgent, I don't have time for a character, I just want to talk about what I want to say, be really direct with it.
I don't know if it's funny yet, it's mainly just me yelling.
One thing I've noticed: a year ago my twitter feed was full of everyday sexism stuff, but that seems to have gone. It's like Trump has taken sexism to another level, and we've had to put the everyday stuff to one side.
You're probably right. All the things that I write about are still happening, but it doesn't feel as urgent. In the show I even say 'these things about the media seem like small issues, but they're all connected and it's still important to fight them.' And also, it'd be really difficult to do a [comedy] show about sexual assault and the really heavy issues.
Are you changing it at all? I think of an Edinburgh show as a moment in time.
No, I'm not changing much, I think my plan is to give a little disclaimer to the audience, at the opening, just talk about 'I wrote this two years ago, the world's completely different now, and we can discover as the show goes on what's relevant and what isn't.'
The politician character I do, what concerns me about that: satire is so difficult now. With satire, we're heightening reality, and at the time she seemed ridiculous, and funny. Now, reality is so far beyond that, I don't know how its gonna go. I think I'll break character and comment on it if I need to.
It's a nice idea - the show with the DVD commentary going on in the background.
Yeah - I was going over the script again recently with my director, and especially that character, there were times where I'd have to take a moment and put my head in my hands - it made me feel sick almost, how almost some things were predicted. She actually says 'make America strong again' that's one of the lines I'd written long before that was his campaign slogan.
I do have one Donald Trump reference - before he was running for president I picked him as a sort of generic example of a rich white corporate person. But I kept it in, and last year, as the year went on and his candidacy became more serious, it got less and less laughs. Because people were like 'ohhh' rather than 'hahaha.'
Saturday Night Live seems almost redundant now - he's beyond parody.
I don't find it funny. I've been doing some more political shows, I did an election night show, and a show for the inauguration, and I realised that most of my material was not even about him, because I don't find him funny. What new thing can I add about him?
Now I'm just screaming about white men a lot of the time - liberal white men actually, because they're the ones who after the election pissed me off the most.
In what way?
There's a particular sect of the left now supporting this narrative that identity politics was the problem with the election - 'the reason that the Democrats failed is because we focussed too much on helping marginalised people and we should have listened to white men more - if trans people, black people, women had just shut up, we would have catered more to those poor white people whose votes we really needed.'
And I'm thinking 'this is a nightmare' - they seem to be in complete denial that racism and sexism had anything to do with the election, they won't hear it. And for me, that's what this entire thing was about.
That's what was driving me crazy, and it felt like such a betrayal, that my friends were saying this, mostly white men. So my takeaway is that it's not about left or right or liberal/conservative - the common denominator across all sides is that white men are fucking it up for everyone.
A counter-argument might be 'Theresa May.' But it's true, in any previous election the stuff that came out about Trump would kill a campaign, particularly that pussy-grab video. But not anymore.
I remember that night, reading about it on the tube, people around me must have been thinking 'what is wrong with this woman?' I looked completely triggered!
I wrote a post that night about it, because I saw people saying 'the election's over', my response was 'I hope you're right, but to assume that America would care about this is to assume that America cares about sexual assault.'
One of the stories of last year was Brock Turner, the Stanford rape trial, where he only got three months in prison. Which is actually more than most rapists get. Bill Cosby it took, what, 50 years and 60 women, to get people to believe it? We've still got people nominated for Oscars right now who are sex offenders. So for me, that didn't mean anything.
The news is so bizarre now, it's like we're currently living one of those what-if TV series: 'what if Hitler had actually won...'
A lot of people are comparing it to Black Mirror. It does feel dark and fictional. I stayed up all night to watch the election results so I was really bleary-eyed by 7am or whatever it was that he made his acceptance speech. It felt like watching Batman in Gotham, and one of the villains comes out and speaks to the city on the ruins of whatever building they've decimated.
Lex Luther eventually becomes president in the Superman comics, apparently; it does seem a bit like that. I suppose the only tiny good thing about this is that it's made more people get politically engaged.
It's interesting, I used to think that my material was niche, now it feels much more mainstream. When I look at social media anyway, it's all people are talking about, these issues. Everyday sexism hasn't been pushed aside, but lots of other things have been added on top. Going forward, the movement I'm on board with is intersectionality, which is including all of the marginalised groups together, and talking about how they intersect.
I'm going to be starting a podcast, which will be comedy but, like a Samantha Bee, Daily Show type of show - so interviews, sketches and stuff. But I won't be branding it as just 'feminist,' because it's so much more than that.
As a Jewish woman, it must be - I'd say a double whammy, but there are so many whammies - particularly horrifying, looking at it from a historical perspective.
I had so much holocaust education growing up, as happens with a Jewish kid, and this is what we were talking about when we said 'never forget, never forgive' - it's terrifying. That's why I'm so extreme in my views, we have to resist literally, we can't compromise on anything. There's no 'casual' racism - it's all white supremacy.
Back to Feminasty, I remember you gave out a cool fanzine after the Edinburgh show - was that a one off?
Yeah, I just found that I had so much to say that I couldn't fit into the show, so I thought 'ok, I'll put them together in this zine.' Looking through it now, there are a few things that are problematic, that I would change. But it's a nice little starter pack.
After the Feminasty shows you're doing the benefit for Beth O'Brien?
Yeah, it's a brilliant idea: Bec Hill who came up with it, she's one of those lovely big hearted people. I miss working with Beth, it's been about a year now. She's been great for me - I don't know if I'd be easy to work with for every agent. But Beth really understood that.
There are only so many business people who have that appreciation for alternative comedy.
I still don't have another agent, I don't want someone who's going to force me to do shows I don't want to do. I'd rather work my day job.
I don't even want to be involved on a trash panel show. I know it'd be a great job, if I could write for one, get paid, meet people... but what for? So I can be on a panel with a bunch of white men, sharing their tepid opinions?
I was just thinking that female comics should boycott panel shows, but a lot of panel shows look like female comics are boycotting them already...
I think men in comedy who consider themselves feminists, they need to do it. There's a pledge in business where men won't participate in a panel talk if there are no women on it: I'd say it should be 50-50. If male comedians did that, it would make a difference.
But those shows, I'm not interested in the product they're selling. I just want to burn it all down and start my own space.