Following the Leveson Inquiry, journalists are now officially
considered to be social pondscum. Yes, we're way down there,
swimming beside the likes of bankers. Compared to some of us,
estate agents look like envoys of the Dalai Lama.
Thank goodness then for the few among us who try to offset the
ills of those hacks without a moral compass. People like Women In
Journalism (WIJ) for example, the networking, campaigning, training
and social organisation for women journalists. For those not
already in the know, WIJ grew out of a demand for women to be more
effectively represented at senior level in newspapers and
magazines, and has since evolved into a forum for women in
journalism at all levels. And the women who run it have helped
hundreds more women over the years to make their mark in the
With women still very much in mind, WIJ decided last year that
they'd like to turn their attention to collaborative projects and
teamed up with Funny Women for the first time to organise a comedy
event to raise money for a women's charity. This year, it was the
turn of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK's only charity dedicated
to those affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical
Here's the serious bit. (The comedy is coming soon; bear with).
Every year in the UK, more than 2,800 women are diagnosed with
cervical cancer, and 1,000 women will die from the disease. After
breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in
women aged 35 and under.
Lesbians, incidentally are just as likely to be affected by the
disease as heterosexual women are, as the Lesbian and Gay
Foundation's (LGF) brilliant Hollywood-themed campaign, 'Are You
Ready For Your Screen Test?' has shown.
Annie Emery, Programme Manager at the LGF told us: "Countless
lives have been put at risk for years because of the myth that
lesbian and bisexual women don't need cervical screening."
"Cervical cancer claims the lives of three women every day in
the UK and sees a woman diagnosed every three hours yet cervical
cancer is preventable and the NHS screening programme plays a vital
role in that, saving around 4,500 lives in England each year."
"But less than half of lesbian and bisexual women of eligible
age we surveyed in the north west had been for cervical screening
during the recommended three to five years previously. And we knew
lesbian women were being diagnosed with cervical cancer. There was
a vital need to raise awareness."
The Funny Women event did exactly this, and in the process also
raised a whopping £725 on the night thanks to the large audience
drawn by the fab lady comic lineup.
But enough of the serious stuff, what did we make of the
Compere and DIVA favourite Susan Calman opened for us with
enough 'lesbytarian' content to keep us happy. Regaling us with a
story about a recent heckle from a 20-something lesbian who had
taunted her with the comment: "WHAT are you?!" she calmy responded:
"I'm your f*cking future. Yeah, that's right. You fall in love, you
eat tons of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and you end up like this." Or
something to that effect. It was funny, but it seemed to be a
common thread for most of the comics who came after her, many of
whom who seemed to feel it necessary to apologise for their body
shape or size.
The darkly comic Jackie Clune strode onto the stage with the
salvo, "I bet you thought, "Fuck me, that Pippa Middleton's let
herself go."' The lovely Viv Groskop apologised for her "silly
name, trumped only by my sister, Trudy," and for the way that she
looked. Two other comics made reference to their 'failed' or
'lapsed' New Year diets because, one can only assume, they think
their bodies are too large.
This was the only blot on an otherwise brilliant night which
included a wide range of humour from the likes of Rosie Wilby who
continues her hilariously whimsical delivery of Eddie Izzard-esque
scenarios, Lara A King another DIVA fave who with her daft jokes
and tribute to her nan who suffered from dementia was funny AND
Thankfully light on the self-deprecating body gags was
DIVA-featured pal, Helen Lederer who claimed she was using the gig
to try out new material. In her trademark kooky persona she trod
far and wide with her subject matter. A fascinating mix of high and
low-brow, naive and knowing, cheeky ("Joan Collins couldn't be here
because she's attending the birth of her next husband.") For a
sample of her filth (well it made me laugh) I give you this: "I
told one of my girlfriends I was thinking of having my arsehole
bleached and she said, "Oh, I can't imagine your husband as a
blond." Probably not a gag that would sit well with my dad, unless
that is, his hearing aid is on the blink.
The ever-controversial Jackie Clune delivered a spiky set,
somewhat refereshingly describing motherhood as "quite shit",
singing songs about a sexy wheelchair user, reclaiming Carly
Simon's track "Baby, you're the best," as a tribute to female
masturbation and telling us about her other job as an opening act
or 'fluffer' for the hit show 'The Puppetry of the Penis'. Life is
as rich as the porn version of the Bayeuax Tapestry, in the Clune
The feisty little charmer Susan Calman held the acts together
well, revealing her Civil Partnership plans in Glasgow as akin to
organising a vegan banquet in an abbatoir. Clearly the locals
require a little press-ganging into attending Glasgay to ensure her
happy day runs smoothly.
Finally, headline act Shazia Mirza kicked off her spiel with, "I
haven't got any (anti-) fat jokes," and proceded to entertain us
with her characteristically barbed humour about arranged marriages,
being left on the shelf aged 35 and coming from Birmingham. Well,
we all have our crosses to bear.