Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cherries Sold Out!

So in a follow up to my last post I can happily, if with slightly bleary eyes, report that my opening night stand-up gig was a sell out success! My comedy cherry was thoroughly popped in grand style and I did not drop the microphone.

Better still, one dude from England who was in the audience was heard to ask my husband after the show, and I quote: "Has Sacha (that's me) performed at Edinburgh?", and when my husband duly reported that she has not, he replied: "She totally should, she's just as good as those guys!"

I'm just going to highlight that quote, which I took as a decent compliment, even if he might have said she's a million times better than those guys. Never mind, it gives me something to aim for.

Now I just have to prepare for the difficult sequel tonight after very little sleep. Might need a nana nap...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Popping my cherry

So tomorrow night I stand up for the first time in front of an audience that has come to see me and me alone perform. It is a little nerve-wracking, but also quite exciting... 

I hope I don't drop the microphone or forget my segues or fudge my lines or go too fast, or too slow, or not speak directly into the mic so I can't be heard by the people in the back, or find that there are no people in the back because hardly anybody came to see me and me alone perform!

I'm going in naked - sans notes - to speak for an hour in an entertaining and feminist-forward way. What could possibly go wrong?

Indeed there are quite a few things that could go wrong besides these, this is only the shortlist. I'm also the fire-warden for the entire heritage (fire-prone) building for the night, and the first respondent should any harm befall anyone else in the building before, during or after my performance.

But that's what I signed up for - mostly. I wasn't entirely aware of the full extent of my responsibilities re putting out fires and worrying about the welfare of others on MY big night. But I guess if hardly anyone shows up the chances of anyone starting a fire or breaking their leg are greatly reduced, so there's that.

As for me breaking a leg, as a few of my friends (?) have encouraged me to do, I think that will be the least of my worries. The stage is only five inches high and I only charge across it giddy-upping like a deranged horse once during the show, or at least once that is scripted. So although the stage is black to match the floor beyond it, my horse and jockey are quite well trained in avoiding traps for the unwary; they've learnt that life skill the hard way.

Famous last words, she said... I always did want to be famous.                                                                                                                                                                                             

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"All thy sins"

So Canada has finally changed its national anthem, "O Canada" to include, or rather not exclude, 50% of its citizens; namely their female humans.

The phrase "All thy sons" that has stood for more than one-hundred years despite feminist protest for at least forty, was officially changed to "All of us" last week.

So female Canadians are not explicitly included now - that would be going a step too far, and of course 'daughters' is much harder to rhyme than 'sons' (women are just so bloody difficult!) - but females are not explicitly excluded, so that is something. The humans that gave birth to every single Canadian are finally celebrated, indirectly, in its national anthem. Hooray! 

And there was me thinking Canada was a little more gender-evolved than that and would have long since made this obvious upgrade. But less surprising is that misogyny has no particular country, colour or creed, which this delay aptly confirms.

As an Australian I grew up singing: "Australian sons let us rejoice for we are young and free..." 

I never really thought anything of it, but as I knew at a young age that my brother, though older than me, had much more freedom than I did, I think subconsciously, even at the age of five when I started loudly rejoicing about the freedom my brother had, I was thinking, not forever buddy, my time will come...

And it did - sort of. The Aussies upgraded their anthem to "Australians all let us rejoice" in the 1980s, once I'd grown up and left the country. Take that, brother.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The White Wahine

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the first woman (wahine) prime minister to be granted... the right to speak on the marae at Waitangi in celebration/commemoration of the signing of Te Treaty o Waitangi, the founding document of NZ Aotearoa signed in 1840 between the (male) leaders of the indigenous Maori and the colonising Pakeha.

Ardern made the most of that 'privilege' as she described the honour of being granted what Helen Clark as PM before her was denied, an occasion that brought Clark to rare tears of frustration, and said that she intended to go on to 'earn' and honour that right in the policy decisions her government made with respect to improving the lives of Maori and doing much more to fulfil the partnership agreement of the Treaty.

And her humility, sincerity and respect shown for Maori as Tangata Whenua (first peoples) of Aotearoa ensured the 5-day-long ceremony was the most peaceful and productive meeting of the two parties to the Treaty ever seen.

As a result of Ardern's full participation in the five days of celebration, while five months pregnant, Waitangi Day 2018 has been hailed as a 'triumph' for Ardern and an 'unqualified success', even 'The Mother of all Huis.'

Indeed I can't help feeling that great progress has been made between Maori and Pakeha, as well as indigenous and colonising peoples of the world, and, not least, between men and women of Aotearoa and beyond too, in this historic event.

I remember all too well watching Helen Clark's tears on the same occasion in 1998, 20 years ago, when she, as PM, was banned from speaking on the marae at Waitangi because she is a woman and finding it hard to accept that this was what our commitment to Te Treaty o Waitangi meant.

Most battles between races and cultures involve other battles too. Wahine, white European wahine especially, including Helen Clark, have fought hard, for so many centuries, predating the colonisation of Aotearoa, against the injustices of institutionalised male domination, that it is surely to dishonour that long, hard fight to continue to say that respecting Maori and the Treaty means respecting the traditional Maori policy that only men are allowed to speak on the marae.

All strong partnerships require compromises, and this compromise on the side of Maori to allow this white wahine to speak on the marae in 2018, sends a message of productive compromise and progress on which a proper cultural partnership can be based, I think. I hope.

So well done to all who brought this compromise about, including Helen Clark and the many women (and some men), Maori and Pakeha, who have fought before and since her for women's voices to be heard and respected in all cultures throughout the world.

Compromise is king, and cooperation and compassion are queenly. We need all these qualities to get along in our diverse and too often divided world.

The ceremonial Waitangi Warriors, Waitangi Day, 2018

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Birthday brag

It's my birthday and I can brag if I want to...

Not sure who reads OWW anymore, gonna set up a new blog any day now; I'm told there are easier-to-access platforms than blogspot. But for now I carry on posting into the virtual void.

This is the poster for my one-woman stand-up show for the Auckland Fringe to be performed in a scarily short period of time. I hope she's ready; she looks a bit overconfident to me. 

Should any of you happen to be in Auckland and not have anything better to do on those dates, I can guarantee you a fair few laughs, either with or at me, should you decide to come along. 

A glimpse into what I might be going on about at that show can be found here on the interview I did for Radio New Zealand last night.

There's also this little piece in our local rag, the Devonport Flagstaff, which happened to come out yesterday, too. 

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me-e, Happy Birthday to me! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Me too, Tonya

I, Tonya is a must-see film for our times revealing what some (too many) young woman go through to try and make it to the top of their chosen sport, especially if they don't quite match the exact image of the ideal female in that sport, as American ice-skater Tonya Harding did not. She didn't look the part, she was too chunky and 'trashy' compared with her more refined and thinner competitor, Nancy Kerrigan.

I had a very similar experience with my ballet career, my perfect physical adversary was called Megan. I wrote a book about it, but it's no film in the making. Because I was not nearly as tough as Tonya. I didn't have a mother who pushed me too hard (or at all), or a boyfriend who bashed me on a regular basis, as Harding did. And so, that she  got so much further in her intensely competitive field than I did, shows just how tough she was (I was a little bit tough). 

And that's what this film shows brilliantly, the toughness of this woman, and one suspects many other women too, who have to fight against obstacles put in their way at every step, many of them obstacles that are not put in the way of men.

Of course Tonya did not ultimately win her battle - unless the film, which tells her side of events, is a victory - being banned from skating competitively at the age of 23 when she was in her prime, for something she didn't do due to her boyfriend telling the authorities that she had done it, namely knew about the plan to injure her rival Kerrigan, an accusation which the film shows to be patently false. An accusation which anyone who has been a competitive sportsperson at that level would know a fellow competitor would never do, risking it all to injure a rival, when you want to beat them fair and square, especially a true competitor and thoroughly decent person and brave battler like Harding.

So in the end it is a film about winning the war of your truth being told while losing the battle of being the best skater in the world, as Harding could have been. That's a war worth winning but one we shouldn't have to fight so hard for, if at all.

Hopefully this kind of truth-telling about women's battles won and lost can help to make sure that subsequent generations of women won't have to fight quite so hard to get the rewards and recognition they deserve.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Kick her in the pussy

Pussy features in my stand-up comedy too...

I'm with her (to the right of his pussy-kicking foot)

but not quite in the same way that it features in the stand-up comedy of international superstar comedian Dave Chapelle who kicks off his latest, and he says last Netflix comedy special with a joke that he wrote expressly in order to finish with the punchline: 'So I kicked her in the pussy'. The wider purpose of this worthy exercise was to prove how 'easy' comedy is for him, which he says is the reason why he is quitting. It's too easy. Arrogant much? Just a bit.

He also thinks it hilarious to mock the audience for not seeing the punchline coming when he had announced that this was the way he wrote comedy, shitty punchline first. He didn't call it shitty, of course. He thinks it's comedy gold.

I saw it coming and didn't laugh, but I wasn't as wrapped up in the experience as those in the audience would have been having bought their tickets wishfully hoping that when he came out charging with his pussy-kicking joke, he was somehow going to redeem the sexism of it in the rest of the show and they weren't going to be subjected to a whole hour of the same. Those people, other than his fellow sexists, laughed nervously at the pussy punchline and not because they thought it out and out funny, at least that was my interpretation of the audience's reaction to the kicked pussy.

Needless to say the pussy he wrote a looooong joke in order to kick in his punchline was white. The last kicked 'pussy' (woman) he made overt fun of on stage was that belonging to the brutally murdered, brazenly justice-denied wife of OJ Simpson, the man he described as 'the most interesting, articulate and intelligent dude' he'd ever met.

We didn't turn him off at that point, though my finger was hovering on the trigger.

But when he almost immediately started in on an Asian woman in a previous audience who he said he could tell was a bitch just from her face I did pull the trigger. Presumably he thinks that because he married an Asian woman Asian women, like white women, are fair game for his overt and deliberately provocative sexism.

It's clear he wants a reaction from women. To me it's clear he doesn't like women at all. And he invariably gets a reaction from some brave woman or other in the audience, which he then happily reports back on and mocks in his subsequent shows.

He's having fun, clearly, which is great. I guess that's what it's all about for so many male comedians, public self-pleasuring at the expense of women. Indeed he apparently goes on to defend Louis C.K. and say he suffered more than his female victims. Yeah, d'man knows what women suffer, it's nothin' compared to what the brothers suffer, even the white brothers. Of course. It has always been so and always will be.

I'm done with Chapelle, as is this woman on Twitter:

I’ll go ahead and speak for the silent majority: Dave Chapelle, you suck. Grasping to be edgy and controversial is boring, easy, average, and not in alignment with the times. Not to mention your punchlines are more like hate crimes, but I assume that’s your chosen comedic brand.

My next post is on a young male comedian who is not only not sexist but is bold and evolved enough to use his stand-up - which is hilarious - to confront the problem of male sexism. He deserves a separate post.