Women Aren't Funny
Z Theatre Company (Hull University)
theSpace @ Venue45
The peculiar contention that ‘women aren’t funny’ is a persistent one.
The late Christopher Hitchens, for example, began one of his many controversial articles with the observation: “why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men… An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh.”
Side with him or not, the topic has become the subject of Joey Fitzpatrick's new play—a joyful, frothy little number with some damn fine gags. It unfolds at zippy pace, and, though a coherent narrative, works structurally as a series of largely self-standing sketches, brought to life by a gallery of outlandish characters.
At its centre is Parker, a bushy tailed, hopeless female stand-up who finds herself co-habiting with a household of nut-cases. Zoe McBride’s Parker is affable and bumbling, an incurable magnet for the cast full of eccentrics, including a rampant semi-naked pseudo-stud, a hippy-dippy advocate for cosmic love, a ferocious cynic who can think of nothing more abominable than a female comic, a wholly unconvinced agent and a mentally adrift miniature-farm salesman (played endearingly by Ollie Bloor).
Serving as Parker’s reluctant mentor is a far funnier female stand-up, a glowering figure who puts her success down to the fact that she’s a couldn’t-care-less, straight-talking "cunt" (think Detective Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine).
There are some deliciously realised, well-paced (if occasionally overcooked) performances and, though in need of some fine tuning here and there, the production overall is a colourful feast of fun. Oh yes and it keeps you laughing right through to the final, finely-turned punchline.