Men are a Distraction (Flaky Chris, Horny Nathan, and Sexual Harassment)

I decided that in order to attract a relationship, I needed to give off more of a relationship vibe on OkCupid, so I re-answered a couple of questions, added ‘no hookups’ to my profile, took off some of the sexier pics (which I shouldn’t have to do but I thought ‘okay I’ll play the game’), and added some ‘look how much of a fun girlfriend I would be’ pics. It hasn’t really made much difference to the quality of messages I’ve been receiving, but at least if the right guy does come across it, then it will be clearer to them. 

There was a guy called Chris I’d been talking to since December, and after my decision to look for dating rather than sex, I told him about this, and he said he was still interested in us meeting up.

We arranged to meet on a Wednesday afternoon in a cool cafe on Brick Lane. I got there at 4.40 (only ten minutes late for once!!) and text him saying I was there. He replied saying he’d thought he messaged me to change it to 5.30.

WHAT?!

I said ‘okay I’ll just chill in the cafe and listen to a podcast’. Then at ten past 5 he sends me this:`

chris-2

Then he said I was the first person he’d stood up ‘unintentionally’! Apparently people just go around doing this, yet I once turned up to a date just to tell the guy I didn’t want to go on a date with him. Which I think is the right thing to do.

I joked about him flaking due to not wanting to be on my blog, and he said actually he’d quite like to be on my blog, and I said it was too late, and he’ll always just be Flaky Chris now. I’m aware his wish has still come true. (Be careful what you wish for, Chris).

We chatted on Whatsapp for a bit and he said he’d still like to meet me, and because I keep forgetting that I’M AN AMAZING WOMAN WHO SHOULD STOP GOING FOR IDIOTS WHO AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME, I said ‘well okay, you can come to my gig on Saturday’, because I have to be there anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you turn up or not.

I thought about if for a few days, and then decided that I didn’t want Flaky Chris to come. Yes it can be fun having a date at your gig, but it’s also annoying in a way. It was different when Tory1 came to see me, because I’d already met him, but it still took away from me a little. I did a gig last week run by the same people who had been at Date with a Tory, and one of them said it was good to watch me perform without being distracted by him. I just did jokes about him instead. 

So I told Flaky Chris not to come to my gig, as it was my first of the year, and I needed to focus on the comedy. #TheComedysMoreImportant

Now if I’d been really clever in the first place, I would have given him the details of another gig to go to that I wasn’t going to be at, and he would have gone there, and I could have got my revenge. But sadly I didn’t think that quickly. 

Anyway, Flaky Chris then asked if he could come to the next gig after that, and I said some friends might be coming (which was sort of true). He kept messaging me, so I eventually replied and asked him how his weekend was, and got a reply I was not expecting.

He told me he’d been doing a parasite cleanse, and that he was disappointed he’d ‘shit out a worm but most of them are to (sic) small to see’…

I purposefully tapered off the conversation after that, and that was the end of Flaky Chris and his flaky parasites. 

But let’s talk about Horny Nathan…

Nathan was another one who I’d been talking to online since December. I asked him about what he was looking for, and he said just a casual thing at the moment. I said that wasn’t really what I was after, and told him about my bad experience. He agreed that even casual sex still needs some sort of connection and intimacy, and I thought ‘well we all have needs’, maybe I could try it again with someone different.

But we carried on chatting and the more we chatted, the less I was interested in meeting him. He always seemed to be telling me he was horny and his sexting style was a little strange. Not only did he lack imagination, but he’d often put a winky face after something blatantly sexual.

For example:

Feel the inside of your pussy all over my cock 😉

Why is there a winky face after that?

It reminded me of a song by a comedian called Lucy Cox where she sang, ‘winky face means sex’. Winky face is something you use after innuendo to make it extra clear there was a bit of flirting going on. 

When you’re already talking about sex, there’s no need to confirm that you were talking about sex! Also I don’t mind chatting a bit about sex before you meet someone, maybe just to work out compatibility, but when that’s the main topic, I get bored of being just your wanking material.

He was mostly only messaging late at night (oh I wonder why), but one time we were daytime chatting and he suggested us meeting to have sex. I reiterated what I’d said in the past to him about going for a drink with NO EXPECTATIONS just to see if we got along, which he’d seemed to be fine with a couple of weeks ago, but not anymore.

nathanscreenshot-2

Why are people going to other people’s houses that they’ve met online without meeting in public first?

Of course I’m very aware that you can still be raped and/or murdered by someone you’ve met in a public place, and then gone back with later (remember that Tinder hotel story one of my Tinder dates told me), and I’m also aware that most rapes and murders are carried out by someone you know.

However, I do think that meeting someone first, and getting a sense of what they are like before you go home with them is the most sensible thing to do in this situation, but clearly he doesn’t have the patience for this.

I also don’t understand the assumption that you’re definitely going to fancy each other. Even if someone looks attractive in their pics, I think a lot of us have been on dates where the pics might as well have been of a different person. When you’re in a pub, it’s not quite as difficult to leave prematurely, but once you’re at someone’s house, that’s a lot more awkward.

Anyway, Horny Nathan hasn’t replied since then. He’s probably still horny and most likely wanking right now. 

But moving on to more important things…

I think I’m a fairly chilled feminist socialist. I don’t tend to rant about feminism or politics that much online, other than sharing the odd piece here and there. I’ve never been to a march, or a protest before, and probably wouldn’t have gone on Saturday even if I didn’t have other plans.* Because effort. And crowds. Okay I’m basically a lazy feminist. I’ll like your social media posts with all the witty placards and signs, but actually go along myself? No chance.

But something happened to me on Saturday that made me think maybe I do need to be a bit more proactive. And it seemed all the more telling that it happened on the same day as the Women’s March, and Trump’s inauguration. I went to my friend’s birthday drinks in the evening, and had a really good time, and I was walking home from the tube probably around 11.30pm.

In a very short space of time after exiting the station I had 3 different men saying things like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘sexy’ to me. I was annoyed, but I was cold, and wanted to get home, and the lazy feminist in me couldn’t be bothered to say anything. But then a few minutes later, I realised three men were walking behind me, one of them made a weird noise, the sort you would use to try and summon an animal, and another one said something about me, I can’t remember what it was but it made me feel uncomfortable, and was an unwanted distraction to my journey home.

The culmination of all these events meant that I couldn’t stay quiet any longer. In the past I’ve shouted at guys or told them to ‘fuck off’, but this time I decided to talk to them about it, in a calm way, without losing my temper. 

I turned around and told them that it wasn’t appropriate to do that to a woman walking on her own late at night, and that they should have more respect. One of them tried to argue that some women like it and that it was a compliment.

As we walked down the street, I tried to explain that most women I know don’t like it, and they’ve probably just never told them.

And yes, sometimes I like sexual attention from men, of course I can admit that, but it’s all about context. And this was the wrong context. It’s not nice to feel outnumbered and intimidated.

The one who made the noises kept asking me questions like ‘where are you going now?’, I told him this was inappropriate too, and the men laughed at this (not in a good way), and couldn’t understand what was wrong about what they were doing.

I went on to say that they’ve probably never felt scared that they might be attacked or assaulted walking by themselves, but that’s how women feel sometimes, and especially at night time they should just leave us alone. But no matter what I said, they just didn’t seem to get where I was coming from, and it made me so angry and upset that they couldn’t see it from my point of view. 

So now we have a President of the United States who doesn’t seem to care about consent or women’s rights, or anything that makes logical sense. A President who would probably would take the side of these men who thought it was okay to harass me on my way home. 

I won’t even apply for a job where I don’t meet one of the points on the person specification, yet Trump acts like he never even read the job description. And yes maybe Hillary wasn’t the best option either, but at least she was qualified for the role, and didn’t go around saying it was okay to grab men’s dicks without their permission. But so many people were too distracted by Trump’s incredibly unconventional approach to running for president to see through his bullshit. It seemed like the more controversial he was, the more support he got.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media saying that democracy happened and people should get over it, yet I keep thinking about the fact that Hillary actually got more votes than Trump. More people wanted her to be president. If this had happened in Brexit there would have been outrage.** ‘Oh we know you got 1,269,501 more votes, but sorry babes some votes are worth more than others’.

Saturday night was another reminder that a lot of men in the world just don’t respect women, not enough to turn up for a date, not enough to want us for more than just sex, not enough to criticise a female politician intelligently without resorting to gender based remarks, not enough to support our reproductive rights, and not enough to let us walk home in peace without feeling the need to comment on the way we look. 

What can we do about it?

What I said to those guys probably didn’t make any difference, but maybe if the next woman says something to them, and the woman after that, maybe if we keep challenging this behaviour, eventually things will improve. I don’t know. And I understand why most women would put their heads down and just keep walking, because there is a real risk of something awful happening to you. But I’m not going to stop challenging it. And I might even go to a women’s march next time. I can use my new found love of arts and crafts to make a good banner.

And what about dating?

I just keep finding that men are a distraction, and not just the ones you like either. The ones you don’t like are a distraction too. The time you spend checking online messages and profiles in the vague hope there will be a decent one there.

It annoyed me that I’d wasted an afternoon waiting for some guy who didn’t have the basic capability to organise his day properly. (I’d even been willing to overlook the fact that he often made really bad spelling and grammar errors on text, despite good grammar being one of my favourite things, as he said he was dyslexic).

If I think about my happiest times, a lot of them are when I was single and didn’t have any guys on my mind. So yeah it would be nice to have a partner to go to the next Winter Wonderland with, but I’m just going to try and not put too much attention into it, just check the apps every now and then, and meet people that seem cool, but not waste too much time messaging, or agree to meet guys I already know I won’t be compatible with.

At the beginning of this month, I wanted to go on a date every week, and basically treat it like a numbers game, but someone pointed out to me that I was turning it into project, and this might not be the best approach, and I agree. What I really would like is to meet someone in real life, and this seems so rare now, but I’m also going to keep going to cool and interesting places and see what happens.

Maybe I’ll find someone to be my boyfriend this year, and maybe I won’t, but in the meantime I’m dating myself. I’m going to be my own best boyfriend. Take myself on dates, cook myself great food, watch movies with myself, maybe use my vibrator a bit more often, and cuddle myself…yeah that last one is weird, I guess I can use my teddy or new piggy for that instead.

*I was watching one of my female friends in the Musical Comedy Awards heat- so in a way I was still supporting the cause

**Side note – let’s not forget that the outcome of the referendum was supposed to be advisory, yet I suspect even with the fact there now has to be a vote in parliament, there’s nothing we can do to stop Brexit now, and even Jeremy Corbyn seems to want it (just put us all out of our misery Jez and admit you secretly voted leave)

My new piggy:

piggy

Lift it off the page

The other week I did a gig at Downstairs at the King’s Head on the Thursday night. This is one the best open mic nights in London that you can do, as it usually gets a good audience, and there is an opportunity to eventually progress to weekend gigs there. I had a fairly good gig and afterwards I asked for feedback from Peter who runs the night. He said that my joke writing is strong and has improved over the last few years, but that I need to sound less rehearsed. I asked whether I sound like that all the time (wondering whether even the newer material sounds like that) and he said yes – I have a certain rhythm to my voice when I’m on stage.

I’ve had this feedback several times and I know it’s something that I need to work on. When I gigged with Russell Kane a while ago he said the same thing – good material but I need to sound more natural. I then watched him do about half an hour (maybe longer) that he had done 100s of times, yet he made it look like so fresh and off the cuff. He suggested I MC more to improve on this, which I have been doing, but as I don’t tend to do much material when I am MCing, this doesn’t really affect how I sound when I do my actual jokes.You can hear the difference when I go into a pre-written joke. I also tend to inflect at the end of my sentences to the point where I have been asked if I am Australian.

I think my problem is that I have to learn my material so well otherwise I will forget it that I end up learning it too well. So what can I do about it? An acting teacher suggested that I try to tell my jokes to a friend like we are having a conversation, or to try and practice my set in different voices so I’m definitely going to try this out and see if it has any effect. My  friend Alana (who is actually Australian) is staying with me at the moment so she is going to have to listen to this.

Does sounding too rehearsed matter? Anthony Jesilnik (one of my favourite comedians) has a very specific rhythm and tone when he does material, and he’s very successful. (Yes I just compared myself to Jesilnik, and what?) I guess it just depends what suits your act. But if sounding less rehearsed means that I have more of a connection to the audience and therefore have a better gig, and get booked for more gigs, then that can only be a good thing.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to win a comedy competition

Last week on Thursday, after writing a blog entry about creative rejection, I went to put myself up for the ultimate creative rejection – a comedy competition. I’m not sure why I keep entering them, but for some reason I do. I’ve done okay in a few in the past, sometimes progressing to the next round, and I even came third runner up in What The Frock! Newcomer Award 2014. I put that down to the fact it was on the day I had found out my dad died. I’d already dealt with a massive life event that day, so getting on stage for a competition somewhat paled in comparison.

But generally I get more nervous than usual, put pressure on myself and then don’t put in my best performance. Alternatively if I have put in a good performance and I don’t place in the competition, or progress to the next round, I find it takes the edge off the fact I’ve had a good gig, which is annoying. I’ve been advised by other comedians to just treat them like just another gig, so I decided that’s what I would do.

I arrived at the gig, a small dimly lit back room (but with no door so you could still hear noise from the bar). A blue hue surrounded the space, which also matched the temperature of the room.

The comperes were a surreal pair – two men dressed in matching suits, one of them played the drums while the other told old fashioned jokes about killing his wife or having a sex doll. Cymbals were hit to indicate punchlines. The drums player also sometimes did political songs on a banjo. The opening act (not part of the competition) warmed up the crowd a bit more, but I was not optimistic about how the night would go. This was a self-contained competition, with no future rounds, so only one person could win. I remember thinking 1 in 10 is not great odds.

I was also thinking about the fact that I was the only woman on the whole evening, and the fact that it can make it look to the audience like female comedians are some sort of rare anomaly. Sometimes it’s better to have more women on with you, so it doesn’t feel so much like tokenism. In retrospect, this probably made me stand out, so it could have been a good thing.

I was on second, and thought I did pretty well. I decided to go for it and do a couple of my darker jokes, which I probably wouldn’t normally do in a competition, but the crowd seemed to like it. I didn’t know whether I had done enough to win, but I was pleased with my performance.

At the end of the night the comperes called out two names they had thought had done the best to come back onto the stage and my name was one of them! The other was an older man called Jimbo who was a bit of a character, and did a set involving bodily functions when you get older. I was surprised that Ben Clover had not been called, as I thought he had done really well.

One of the comperes said my name to get the audience to cheer and they cheered a reasonable amount, I thought the other guy is definitely going to get a louder cheer, but then they said his name and the crowd cheered even less!I had won! I had finally won a comedy competition! Plus 50 quid prize! And a little trophy! They gave me the microphone  to say something, but I was a giggling happy wreck and just thanked the audience. Twice. While grinning insanely.

Does this mean I will be entering more competitions in future? Maybe. And if I do, I’m sure I will be more confident, and remember to treat it just like any other gig. I am also going to prepare a mini speech for next time. After all, this is closest I will ever get to winning an Oscar.

carmen-ali-with-her-quipster-awards-trophy

 

Date with a Tory

On Friday, I did my first half an hour show as part of Laugh or Cry Presents Cruel Brittania, and I invited a date. I had met this person the week before at a friend’s birthday and we had some pretty good chemistry. Mainly because, well, he’s a Tory Brexiteer and I’m a Labour Remainer.

I’ve never had political class based banter before with someone, but it turns out it’s my thing. I told him I want him to fuck me like he wants to fuck the NHS, and he teased me for being an ‘adorable lefty’. It goes against pretty much everything I stand for, but it’s like my head says leave, but my pussy says remain.

Having a date at the gig made me way more nervous, because obviously I wanted to impress him, but I wasn’t planning to talk about him while on stage until I did my joke about steak and blowjob day, where I ask the audience if they have ever done it, and he cheered, so I took the bait and told everyone he was there. I also ended up telling everyone his political views – which were surprisingly not very popular in a North London theatre.

Everyone likes a bit of real life drama, and some of the moments were funnier because he was there, however I think it also had the effect of distracting from the show itself, and meaning I was self conscious when some of my usual jokes didn’t get as many laughs as my commentary on the situation did. It was frustrating because I wanted to get a real sense of how my show could be, but couldn’t focus fully on that.

I still think it was good to do my first half an hour, develop a bit of a narrative, and get comfortable with being on stage for that long. I also did have a lot of fun. Watching back the video, I actually wish I had abandoned the specific jokes for the show a bit more, gone further with getting him involved, and been more mean to him. I mean Tories do deserve it.

It’s also difficult writing a blog entry knowing he’s going to be reading it. My last date story I knew wouldn’t be read by the guy it was about – it was a Tinder date, I never told him my full name, and I didn’t want to see him again. But I know this one is definitely going to be reading this, so I still feel like I am trying to impress him.

If you would like to see some of the best bits of the gig, below is a video of the highlights. Sadly my phone stopped recording before the end where I said ‘right I’m off now to get some Tory dick’, which may or may not have happened later on. Gotta keep some things private…(just not the railways or the NHS).

How to write a comedy show

The longest set I’ve done is 20 minutes, but next week Friday the 16th of September, I am doing a half an hour work in progress at Laugh and Cry at The Lion and Unicorn Pub in Kentish Town. But how to do it? Should I treat it like long set, just doing more jokes than usual, or give it a narrative?

Most comedians tend to centre their shows around a theme or a story, this involves writing specific jokes to fit with that story, so is it easier for your first show just to get all your best material together and screw the narrative arc?

I thought about doing a show about my father’s death (I’m sure I heard somewhere that Stewart Lee thinks this is one of the main reasons Edinburgh shows have become hack), but I don’t know if that’s too personal, or worse, too reductionist. I don’t want to have to leave out some of my best jokes, or force the show too much to fit to a theme.

Sometimes a show’s theme or story can change along the way as well. When I went to see Bridget Christie’s preview (which was hilarious), the Brexit result hadn’t come out yet, as it was on the day of the referendum, and she did make some jokes about it, but apparently after that happened, her show became much more focussed on Brexit. I might have to see it again now.

I do think that having a ‘schtick’ or a theme can make audiences more inclined to come and see your show, but on the flip side, if it’s a good show, it doesn’t matter. Some of the best shows I have seen have had a story, and some of them haven’t. Some of them are a collections of little stories; snippets into a person’s life. I’m going to spend some time writing down all my ideas, and jokes I already have, and see what happens. Maybe a theme I hadn’t even thought of will come out of it…

Date at the Tate

On Saturday I was on my way to do Shaggers at Leicester Square Theatre when I got a message from a guy I’ve been talking to from Tinder asking to meet up that evening. I did initially invite him to the gig, although I’m quite glad he didn’t come now…

He suggested we meet at 9 and go to to Tate Modern (which is now open until 10 on Fridays and Saturdays). I thought that sounded cool and artsy so I agreed to meet him.

The gig was awesome and it was really fun being able to do all my dirtiest jokes. The audience seemed to enjoy my set, although one man did look shocked when I said the words, ‘but I don’t see you sipping out of my mooncup’. Apparently even at a sex themed comedy show, I’m still pushing the boundaries. Which I love doing. The show finished at 8.30 and I walked across the Thames to go and meet my date.

This man has spent the last few weeks or so basically being my news source. He likes to send me politics links, weather updates, pictures of the sky, and ask me stuff like who I think is going to win Euro 2016. (I can’t even remember who won now…was it France?!) Anyway, I was quite intrigued by his method of communicating and thought we might get along.

The problem with internet dating is you have no idea what a person is really like until you meet them. When I go on a date with someone, I generally know within 5 seconds if I am attracted to them or not. Which sounds like a really quick assessment. But that’s just how I am.

We meet, and I quickly realise he is not my type at all. I know that’s shallow, but I think that sexual attraction is very important, especially as I am not really looking for a relationship at the moment, more just some fun. I also don’t think that looks and personality are mutually exclusive and that when you meet someone in person you get a sense of that person as a whole and their general vibe.

But it’s rude to say straight away ‘Sorry I don’t fancy you, I’m going home’, plus I do (usually) like art galleries, so we go into the Tate and I think ‘well it closes at 10, so I can bail after that’.

The new building has a nice viewing platform, and the sky looks beautiful. I guess it could be quite romantic if you were there with the right person. I’m more interested in taking photos though.

Picture of the London Night Sky

We go back inside and see the Louise Bourgeois exhibition I have heard so much about, sadly I think I don’t really get it. It’s full of body shaped sculptures and dolls and I don’t understand or enjoy looking at them. I do like the spider on the wall though, I think spiders are beautiful and most people look at me oddly when I say this.

Picture of Louise Bourgeois's Spider

The gallery assistants keep telling him my date he’s not allowed drinks in the exhibitions, as he is carrying round an (unopened) coke can. (I ask him later when we are going back to the tube why he hasn’t drank it and he says he found it in a Boris bike and doesn’t want it. Right.)

We look at a few more rooms and nothing really grabs my attention. We talk about how art is all about networking and good marketing. For example, how the hell do you convince someone that this is worth putting on display?

Picture of Three Blank Canvases

I feel like art in a gallery should be at least a bit better than something I could make or just buy from a shop. Apparently this is not the case.

After a disappointing hour we walk back to the tube and my date tells me about how him and his last girlfriend dated for 5 years without having sex because she was religious (but he isn’t) and she wanted him to convert so they broke up. He also tells me that he was shocked when he came to England and saw people with Down Syndrome, as in Latvia where he is from ‘disabled people stay at home’. Wtf?!

When I get out of the tube there’s a message from him saying it was nice to meet me. I tell him it was good to meet him too (I’ve had worse dates and he did make me laugh a couple of times), but that I don’t think we have enough chemistry to meet again. He then says ‘why? I liked you’, so I tell him that he’s not my type (there’s really no need to ask for more information if someone says you don’t have enough chemistry). Do you want me to text back ‘I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP WITH YOU?!’

The next day he sends me a picture of the sky and I don’t reply.

The End

 

 

Man Up

On Tuesday I did a gig dressed as a man in a night called Gender Bender.  The line-up consisted of women playing the parts of men, with a token man on the night – Hollie Would (who regularly performs stand-up dressed as a woman).

Charley Harrison, who organised and Mced the gig in a suitable manly way, encouraged us all to embrace our inner man, and it was great arriving at the gig to see my fellow female comics applying facial hair with eyeliner in the toilets, and getting into character. Thanyia Moore was so convincing that one of the bartenders was initially fooled by her man-wear.

So what to talk about as a man? Some of the comedians went for specific men, such as Jeremy Corbyn, some made up their own men such as Colin the Terry-er-ist, but I decided to go for a generic man, with some inspiration from past and current boyfriends. (Side note – just to clarify I only have one at the moment)!

This involved a lot of talking about my ‘dick’, and a couple of jokes which were supposed to be subversive, but I think came out sounding a bit sexist. The most difficult part of it was keeping a straight face while trying to maintain a manlier voice. But, I had a lot of fun! It felt really good to do something different and not be myself on stage for once.  I think a lot can be said for stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself as a performer. Every woman on the night rose to the occasion and Kate Smurthwaite gave us an unexpected surprise right at the end of the show.

Did I feel funnier as a man? I think because I wasn’t being me, in a way I felt more confident about just saying whatever and not caring if it was funny or not. I guess some bits were funnier than my usual set (at some points just because of the situation) and some bits weren’t, mainly because gender actually has no effect on hilarity levels.

As to what my boyfriend thought (who has previously dressed up as stripper for comedy purposes), well I sent him a pic of my man-ness and he messaged me back saying ‘hot’. Looks like I may have to dress up as a man more often…

Here’s the video of my man gig if you want to see it:

(Yes I did bang my head while walking off stage)!