Last night I saw the stand-up comedian Luisa Omielan at the Comedy Café Theatre in Shoreditch. It was a free show, supported by Ellie Taylor, called What Would Beyonce Do? Contrasting her own life with that of the millionaire superstar, Omielan talked about all the things you might expect - independence, boyfriends and paying those bills bills bills. The comedian was a hit in Edinburgh this year and I can see why.
Omielan had bags of personality and told some cracking stories. But most of all, I enjoyed how physical her performance was. Blaring out clips of various Beyonce tracks, Omielan danced around the stage and out into the audience, comically gyrating up against people and generally shakin' her thing. Basically, she was loving it, loving her body, loving being out there in the crowd.
It got me thinking about how the body should be a thing of pleasure. Okay, inevitably it'll always also be a thing of pain but ultimately, either way, it should be something we constantly explore and use in different ways. As Baz Luhrmann puts it in his song:
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can… don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
But for many of us, particularly women, it's a source of worry and shame. We feel it's ugly, too large, or it's just somehow out-of-place in the world. I think we can all agree this is terrible yet, rather than constantly trying to fight these feelings, maybe we should declare apathy for the idea of beauty as something utterly serious and compelling. This is a hard task, I know. But I believe that's where comedy comes in. It affords us a side-position where, while still engaged in notions of beauty, we disrupt these and deflate their significance. It seems likely that we'll always want to be more beautiful. Yet if we laugh at ourselves and see things from a comical stance, we open up space in which to play and perform in new ways.
Omielan was going through lots of emotions on stage including, towards the end, lying in a crumbled heap pretend-sobbing. The heartbreak she spoke of was pretty intense in some ways yet, we all laughed because life can be both funny and sad at the exact same time. And as women, we try to be independent, we try to be sexy, but ultimately we should also just try to laugh.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
I wasn't sure about 'Miranda' to begin with, the sitcom seemed clunky and over-the-top. But I wanted to like it, in that way you do when you believe in the concept behind something. And it kept popping up on my TV screen, so I gave it a go. And slowly but surely I saw what other people saw - this big, lovable, embarrassing character who never quite gets it right but keeps on trying.
Well, Miranda Hart has a new book out, 'Is It Just Me?', and is holding an event tomorrow night (Monday 22 October) at the Lyric Theatre. At £21 a ticket, it's pretty steep - although it does include a signed copy of the new book. Plus she's amazing.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
In what ways can laughter and comedy be used to explore feminism? This question is not new, I know. But I'd like to find out about what's going on today in London and beyond. Which women are laughing the longest, in what ways and why? I propose to discuss this here. Comments/replies/outraged rebuttals all welcome.