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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A Strange Return

Before flying back to the UK from LA I warned my friend that there are reasons why I normally travel alone and try to always fly alone. This is because in the run up to the flight fellow passengers are treated to me moping around with a look of impending doom plastered across my face. I also only have one topic of conversation. Correction; I only have one sentence of conversation "I really don't want to get on to that plane." I really, really didn't. As we left our hotel I was offered a complimentary whiskey. I took it. It was disgusting, I now know why I've not drunk it before. I then took three sleeping tablets. I then stopped self medicating as I was about to do a Marilyn Monroe. 
I was awake for the entire flight. I have the constitution (and arse) of an ox. 
Just before take off my friend tried to take my mind of the journey by showing me news stories on her phone. Sadly she showed me pictures of dolls. I saw no need to replace one intense fear with another so carried on fretting about the flight. Fretting so much that I ignored the announcement that said we would have a flight time of just over nine hours rather than nearly 11. I took it as good news. 
What it meant was that we were powering along at the speed of light on the bumpiest trajectory known to man. We were clearly caught up in some 'fronts' that were blasting Canada and the Eastern US so we skipped and hopped our way across the Atlantic. I had a breakdown (and a revolting dinner) and wondered what on earth I would have been like without the drugs and alcohol. 
Now I am home and I am not going to fly for a while. 
However I would recommend the above combination as preparation for going on the radio. Fifteen hours after landing I went to Three Counties Radio to talk about my book (STILL available on Amazon). I loved it. I think not really having time to think about it helped and I would imagine jet lag and drug comedown also played it's part. The DJ was such a nice man and I hope I came across OK. They asked me back and I went back again on the Wednesday to take part in a panel discussion show. All in all a weird way to spend your first week back in the country. 
It's also probably worth pointing out that despite what it says in the photo above, I am not an audiologist. But I am happy to shout at you to check you can hear. 

Monday, 2 February 2015

Women Aren't Funny

I went to two comedy nights in LA. One was at the 'Upright Citizen's Brigade' in LA and the other was at a comedy festival in LA. The comedy festival was a weekend event and we went to see a show on the Saturday evening. Being a good ten years older than most of the audience I am guessing it wasn't particularly aimed at us, but it is worth pointing out that we were still a good ten years younger than either of the comics we saw. It was described as an evening of mayhem combined with hilarious anecdotes and guests. What it actually was was a 40 year old man telling knock knock jokes interspersed with "hilarious" tales of wanking. Then he introduced his friend (who depressingly has just been given his own comedy show on television) who told hilarious stories about wanking. In quite an angry manner. Oh and he told a very weird story about a dad in a shop where he explained why the story was funny and how he felt about it in interminable detail. Oh and he did all this explaining before he got to the punch line. It almost made you long for a wanking story. 
I was hating it but didn't want to drag my friend away if she was loving it. I looked over. She was checking her work email on her phone. We left. 
We went home and due to an inability to work the television we looked for something to watch on Netflix. We found a documentary about why women aren't funny. It was by a female comedian who interviewed male and female comedians to get to the bottom of why women aren't considered funny. Inevitably most of the males she interviewed (not all) seemed to consider humour a unique and wonderful gift that was bestowed only on men, normally white men. The women she interviewed gave an alternative (normally funnier) viewpoint. Then the woman making the documentary became obsessed with what her comic husband thought of her and how he felt threatened by another male comic she may or may not have slept with ten years ago. She may not have been the right person to make the documentary. She sort of shot us all in the foot. Thanks. 
Are women funny? I think some are. Are men funny? I think some are. I don't think humour is linked to gender. But I think humour is more celebrated in a male. There is the idea that humour in a female is to make up for a lack of other (looks based) qualities. I think men that say women aren't funny are generally threatened by women and want to belittle them, they also know that if they come across a funny woman then she'll be able to beat him in an argument and be funny whilst she's doing it and then he'll have to go and think about his natural superiority bestowed on him by virtue of him simply having a penis. And if that isn't true - what is? Society would crumble. Back in the kitchen women. Tell your knock knock jokes to the kettle. 
The problem is there aren't enough women who are visible in comedy. On a panel show for example there is one woman and maybe three or four men. If one of the men isn't funny, no problem, he's just not funny but there are three others to prove that men are. If the woman isn't funny she is simply not representing herself she is representing all women and therefore women shouldn't be on panel shows as they 'aren't funny'. There's no three funnier women also on the panel to show that they are.
I am not sure when 'women' started operating as one big unit. I personally don't get up in the morning and think 'How am I going to represent women today?' "will all the other women in the world think that the trousers I am wearing do us ALL justice?". I tend to operate as an individual. My views on everything are only representative of me, not 50% of the population. I also don't want to be in a group with every other woman on earth. I don't like some of them. 
Why are men allowed to speak for themselves but women have to speak for a gender? Why do women have to speak for anyone at all? Why can't they go on a panel show or perform comedy and talk about what ever they want? Why is whatever they do biased by them packing a vag? 
I apologise for that last sentence. I spent a while trying to construct it nicely but was aware that I had used the word 'gender' a lot and didn't want to use it again. 

I would like to make it clear that I only apologise on behalf of myself. Not all of womankind. 

Another argument raised by the male comics in the documentary was that all women talk about are women's issues. Periods, men not calling them (is that a woman's issue or VERY much a man's issue - take a good look at yourselves boys), diets. Seriously? You're throwing that at us? I can not put a number on the number of shows I have sat through where men talk about wanking, about how they treat women, about all kinds of things that are generally considered to be 'male'. But ... if they are funny I will laugh. If they are not I won't watch. I won't form the opinion that all men aren't funny and only talk about masturbation. On another note - have none of them thought of locking the door? 
Based on what I sat through in LA, a lot of television and sometimes just in general - American's aren't funny. They over explain jokes, they feel the need to add 'Just kidding!" to the end of statements which are clearly not true. But then again I love American comedy, I love Saturday Night Live, Rich Hall, Amy Poehler, I had a great night at The Upright Citizen's Brigade watching stand up. Bum. Maybe I can't make huge sweeping generalisations of a whole race of people. 
Or perhaps we can. Women aren't funny because a man may once have met a woman who wasn't (or worse perhaps he once met a woman who was and it made him feel uncomfortable). By this logic all men are perverts because I once got flashed by a man. Therefore all men are flashers. Just kidding! 
See American's adding 'Just kidding' REALLY doesn't work. 

Flowers in Your Hair

We arrived in San Francisco and dropped the car off at the airport. I can't speak for my fellow traveller but I never wanted to see that thing again. Public transport is very much my friend. Especially when the public transport is cable cars! These need to make an appearance in London. Especially when you can ride for free if they haven't got the right change (this possibly only works once).  I think we made the right decision abandoning the car - I really wouldn't have wanted to do a hill start in our hire car and San Francisco is pretty much all hills. On the plus side it gave us a much needed two day 'bums and thighs' workout. 
We were only in the city for two days so we needed to cover as much ground as possible within that time. We got a good deal on a "hop on hop off tour" and so set off to see the city. All tours came with a guide who gave you details about what you were seeing. The information and presentation was excellent but it did seem that every anecdote ended with the words 'destroyed in a massive fire'. 
They were also quite keen on mentioning huge, destructive earthquakes. These seemed to be mentioned just as you were going across a bridge or past some particularly hefty sky scrapers. I began to wonder what I would do in an earthquake and what my escape plan would be. I soon stopped wondering as inevitably my plan would be: 
1. Wonder what on earth was going on
2. Crap my pants 
3. Earthquake ends 
4. Deal with consequences (from the sounds of it - a massive fire) 

Luckily we never had to deal with either an earthquake or a massive fire but it's good to have a response planned. 
I went to Alcatraz, I am very glad I didn't sign up for the night tour. It was incredibly atmospheric and the audio tour was excellent. As seemed to be my way in San Francisco I made my plan as to what I would do if I was to be sent to Alcatraz. This plan was simpler, it just had one step. 
1. Die of fear the first night I was there. 

I can't say I fell for San Francisco the same way I fell for LA. I enjoyed it, I would certainly go back but I didn't get the same 'feels' I got from LA. Maybe it was the constant referencing of earthquakes and impending death. LA gets earthquakes too but they didn't seem to revel in it quite so much. It seems a strange claim to fame, in a way I admire the way they've embraced it. If they own it then they control it? Perhaps we could start a tour of sewage works and proudly boast of typhoid outbreaks.