The conveyor belt of straight white men never stops. I should know: I myself was made at the straight white man factory. Production is booming, and despite consumer feedback, many of my model think that a) we’re funny and b) people should listen to what we have to say.
And so we are vacuum packed, stuck on lorries, and distributed to open mic nights up and down the country.
I’m sure Charlie George, Alex Bertulis-Fernandes, and Sharlin Jahan have considered sabotage at source, gumming up the gears with our own melted Britpop vinyl. But for now, they’ve joined forces, because promoters still find it difficult to move beyond tokenism on their bills and in their minds.
Sunday’s was a work in progress show but you wouldn’t know it from the quality of the gags. Charlie George was up first, dancing and sliding to the stage like a graceful slinkey. A pansexual person with a clowning and dance background, the physical movement accentuates the stories and tales of uncertain living and how cats only show you their bumholes if they like you.
George’s story of how her ultra-religious parents found out she wasn’t straight deserves to be turned into a six part Netflix series, and whatever the situation, whatever the shame, and the tears, and the opposition, she comes through hilarious and intact.
Alex Bertulis-Fernandes is a slightly less hopeful proposition, as befits someone with clinical depression. To a fellow sufferer, there was something liberating to see someone be so honest and so intentionally flippant about their condition, even if there were a few occasions where the audience were uncertain whether to laugh. Not me, though. I laughed like the proverbial drain.
Third up – I won’t say headliner, this is a communal show – was Sharlin Jahan.
Jahan performed at our own Factually Inaccurate night last week, at extreme late notice, and was extremely excellent. Tonight, there was less material about eggs, but her advice on dating “feedback” from white guys, riffs on nipple-less avatar characters, and contempt for certain age-gap relationships were all extremely funny and tight.
You’d think this set had been performed a thousand times before, such was the confidence, assurance and charm.
They all came on stage together at the end, and though Bertulis-Fernandes’ mic was cut off – probably by the charred hand of patriarchy, rising up through the liquid remains of a thousand Oasis records – the warmth and solidarity these three shared was plain to see.
Catch ‘em while you can in venues this size: soon they’ll be selling out Knebworth.
***** out of *****
Funny Femmes (work in progress) perform at Battersea Arts Centre on 29th September