Comedian and actor Helen Lederer is angry because she’s not famous:
“There’s a lot of anger,” says Helen Lederer, blue eyes blinking beneath her trademark blonde fringe. “I’m sat on a lot of bitterness.” …
“I had a genuine belief that, because I had a passion for stand-up, writing and performing, that I’d just write my own sitcom and be in it.
Somehow I didn’t get my own sitcom either, and I bet the scripts I wrote were were funnier than hers. But she seems to think it’s somehow her due, and the writer of the article tries to make out that it’s the fault of men that she didn’t make it big. Yet tens of thousands of male writers, comedians and actors have the same experience. Unfortunately they just have to accept it, and make do the best they can.
That’s actually the case for men in general. For thousands of years most men have been nobodies, failures, unacknowledged geniuses, journeymen, teamplayers, underpromoted, underappreciated, etc. And they just had to put up with that. They had to learn to live with failure, or at least with disappointment, and put up with the taste of sour dreams in their head every night. That’s just part of life for most men.
Then women decided that they wanted careers too. They too wanted to chase success in the workforce. But that meant most of them having to put up with disappointment, just like men had to. And most women were fine at this. Until, that is, modern feminism came along and told them that they were all entitled to be CEOs and Presidents and heads of departments and best-selling authors and movie stars and Professors and generally be fawned over all the time, which was bad enough, but what was worse was that it told them that if they didn’t get those things then instead of having to accept it, like men did, they should shout and bang drums and whine endlessly about how it’s all the fault of the patriarchy.
And Lederer can’t really complain anyway:
this month Lederer has been performing a one-woman routine every day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time in 14 years, hosting a chat show, and making endless radio appearances on channels from LBC to the BBC.
The woman has been positively locked in chains in a dungeon.
There’s also this feminist bilge in the article:
“Popular women’s books are written off as Chick Lit, but no novel by a man has ever been dismissed as Dick Lit,” Allison Pearson wrote in these pages two months ago.
Ah yes, I remember when I sent my novel to agents — 95% of whom were women, with a large majority of women on their list — and how they all told me that my book was good because I was a man, and that I would be published forthwith, as long as I really was a man, and not a woman in disguise.
(Amazing how Alison Pearson manages to ignore all those male authors who entertain the public but who are sneeringly dismissed by the literary establishment as writers of potboilers and penny dreadfuls.) And here’s Marion Keyes, quoted in the same article:
“Male voices are automatically given extra weight… Anything that’s been said or done by a woman just matters less,” lamented Keyes.
Keyes seems to have somehow missed the whole of last forty years.
Anyway, your fears about male power in the comedy fiction world, which I know keep you awake at night, are at an end, because Lederer has created the Comedy Women in Print award:
And so, Lederer is seeking to redress the balance with CWIP, through which the winner will receive a place on the University of Hertfordshire’s Creative Writing course and £1,000 if they are as yet unpublished, or £2,000 if their work has previously been in print.
“This is a passion project, it’s not a money earner for me,” explains Lederer
It’s not about me, says Lederer. Yet somehow she gets a whole newspaper article about her out of it that could have been written by her agent, and her name is prominently displayed on the front page of the award webpage. And her contribution is, at most, £2000, and probably nothing in reality, because The Telegraph and Pegasus Life are listed as sponsors. Yes, that same Telegraph that is running this story. And the University of Hertfordshire is also listed as a sponsor, so I assume they’re waiving the fees, rather than Lederer paying them out of her own pocket.
£2000 is less than you’d pay a publicist to get you in the papers these days. £0 certainly is. Well played Helen, well played.
Update: Perhaps I’ll start up my own award: The Right-Wing Men in Comedy Fiction Award. Sponsored by… possibly The Spectator, but in reality it’ll probably turn out to be the kebab shop up the road. Winner gets a free lunch with Toby Young who’ll talk about himself for an hour. Runner-up gets… to listen to me talk about comedy after I’ve had a few pints?