Wednesday 13 November 2019

Comedy success 'harder for females'

Jason Manford said women faced more hurdles in stand-up comedy
Jason Manford said women faced more hurdles in stand-up comedy

Comedian Jason Manford has said that the BBC should never have publicly announced its ban on all-male comedy panel shows.

BBC director of television Danny Cohen pledged last year that the corporation was "not going to have any more panel shows with no women on them", branding the exclusion unacceptable.

The One Show's former co-host Manford told Radio Times magazine: "I think it's a brilliant idea.

"I just don't think they should have said it out loud. Why say it? Just do it, and then let it become a thing."

He added: "By saying it, you're undermining the female on the panel show because now she's thinking, 'Am I here because I'm funny or because they needed one?'"

His comments came after Mock The Week host Dara O'Briain said that he opposed the way that the BBC had publicly aired its decision to get more women on panel shows.

"I have nothing against this idea that there be women on panel shows or indeed that quietly you ask panel shows to make sure there are women on panel shows. My only objection was to announcing it," O'Briain said.

The News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig has also voiced her concern, saying that there were better ways of signing up women.

Manford said that there were more male than female comedians on the circuit because "stand-up is a bit like flirting".

"So when a bloke comes out and does his thing, he's making people laugh, and this is what you do when you're flirting.

"It's harder for females sometimes to come on and be at the forefront because that's not what we're used to in our society.

"Generally the woman's passive. For a female to be aggressive is not what we're used to. So I think female comics have to work harder because of an audience's preconceptions," he said.

"And men are more used to rejection. Generally it's the bloke who asks a girl out. I'm stereotyping but that's what we do."

Manford added: "When I see a female act who's totally nailing it, I think, 'Well she's worked harder than most blokes to get to this point'. That's why you only see brilliant female acts on the telly whereas there's a lot of mediocre male comics on TV. Because there's loads of us."

Manford also told how he drew on his resignation from The One Show, after it was revealed he had been sending raunchy messages to women who were not his wife, while filming Ordinary Lies, the new BBC drama.

"There were moments when I had to find tears, find moments of just total sadness and regret and I guess that was a place I would go to. I'd think, 'That is the only time in my life when I felt like the world was ending'," he said.

"The emotional feeling of desperation, and that everyone hates me."

PA Media

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