IIIIIII Wising up
‘You can be a comic actress, a comedienne, or a comic,’ says Phyllis Diller, ‘and the last one’s the killer, alone on stage with only the mike and his material for company.’ ilote the masculine possessive, even in a film about female comics, the performer is regarded as male.
it’s a theme picked up regularly in Gail Singer’s simple but insight- packed film Wisecracks, an exploration of women (mostly American or Canadian) stand-up comics and their attitudes to their craft. Whoopi Goldberg makes it perfectly clear: ‘I do not regard myself as a woman comedienne. OK, I’m reminded of it every 28 days or so, but that’s the only time.’ Ellen DeGeneres takes it further: ‘A lot of my humour is way out there, it has nothing to do with reality at all. A lot of guys like that.’
Thankfully, few of the comics are so concerned about male approval, but there does still seem to be a major obstacle, even from the most liberal sources, for female performers in the testosterone-tinged atmosphere of club stand-up. lynda l.a Plante’s TV drama Comics recently allowed the hero to rant on about fat female comics (‘I’ve seen ’em all over, they’re pigs’) and the right-on Guardian took Thea Vidale to task for being a little too angry, a tad too confrontational. Rot nice to see that
Whoopi Goldberg kind of thing from a lady was the unwritten message.
It cannot be denied that female comics do have a fondness for reactive material, talking about men in a way few male comics would dare talk about women, at least now that Benny and les are no longer with us. ‘lt’s a defence against a cruel world,’ claims Patsy Cline lookalike Paula Poundstone, and plenty of the material does have that element of ‘do it to them before they do it to you’ about it. And the battle goes beyond the stage. ‘l’d look out at an audience,’ says Sandra Shamas, ‘and I’d see two women in the front with a man sitting between them. And these two women would be falling about, tears running down their cheeks, everything. Then they’d look at the man and he’d be sitting there, arms crossed, not laughing, and they’d gradually stop until I could make contact with them again.’ (T. Lappin)
Wisecracks is on Channel 4 on Friday 2 July at 10.30pm.
.“m MARC MARNIE
Carol Kidd reaches for the radio
Whether through policy or
i coincidence, BBC Scotland have chosen to air two new documentaries on the careers of Scottish jazz musicians during the Glasgow Jazz Festival. As it happens, both these artists will not only be playing in the festival, but they will be playing together, since the first, pianist David ilewton, is - among other things - the musical director in the band of the second, singer Carol Kidd (catch them at the Fruitmarket on Thurs 8).
The man behind both programmes is no stranger to either of his subjects, or to Radio Scotland listeners. Elliot Meadow’s career in jazz encompasses broadcasting, writing, production and running a record label, and his production credit appears on several albums by both artists, including Kidd’s acclaimed ‘The flight We Called
It A Day’ (Linn), and all three of llewton’s fine recordings as a leader. The two programmes take different
approaches to their respective subjects. The first, ‘Gravity Deferred’ (Sun 4, 2.30pm), allows llewton’s music to speak largely for itself, with only a short interview extract in which he and Elliot have a slightly spiky disagreement over piano style, and a very brief word from the present writer. The programme includes fascinating material which has not been released on disc, and provides a fine musical portrait of this still under-valued artist.
Carol Kidd’s music is rather more familiar territory, and the profile of her in ‘Dilemmas and Resolutions’ (Sun 11, 2.30pm) contains a longer and more structured interview, interspersed with selections of music which have influenced her over the years, including Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, with just enough of Kidd’s own music to make the point that she is by no means adrift In such company. One such substantial and well-produced documentary on a jazz subject from Gueen Margaret Drive would be cause for satisfaction; two practically calls for a celebration. (Kenny Mathieson)
Gravity Deferred is on Radio Scotland on Sunday 4 July at 2.30pm; Dilemmas and Resolutions is on Sunday 11 July
So here's the dilemma. You‘ve just come out of the pub on a Saturday night and a large. shaven-headed sociopath has gratuitously slashed you with a Stanley knife. [)0 you (a) scream like billy-o in the hope that a passing Samaritan will call an ambulance and ferry you to Casualty where they'll stitch you up and pump a couple of pints ofblood into you. or (b) stagger along to Tristan and Cressida's place where they will anoint the wound with dandelion and burdock while chanting select phrases from the Bhagavad Gita and scolding you for skipping your Alexander Technique classes? Call me a cynical old bigot but i think I‘d plump for (a) every time. Similarly. when I‘m afﬂicted with the tumours that are no doubt an inevitable result of my bitter and negative world-view, I reckon ['11 be in the chemotherapy queue behind Roy Castle and Bob Champion rather than high-tailing it off to the Mexican desert for coffee enemas and the like.
‘When I’m afflicted with the tumours that are no doubt an inevitable result of my bitter and negative world-view, I reckon I’ll be in the chemotherapy queue behind Roy Castle and Bob Champion rather than hightailing it off to the Mexican desert for coffee enemas.’
So you can imagine how cheered l was by the third programme in the series Magic And Medicine (Channel 4), an excellently produced. accessible investigation into the validity or otherwise of alternative health practices. Rob Buckman. the latest in a line of showbiz docs stretching back to Jonathan Miller who have eschewed the operating theatre for the luvvier kind. presents with a kind of enthusiastic scepticism. Running through a selection of ‘aIternative medicine miracles‘ Buckman presented feasible scientific explanations. leaving the viewer to make up their own mind. Most alarmingly blinkered were the Walland family, whose son Tom suffered from partial paralysis of the right side of his body. caused by a brain tumour.
’We took him to a macrobiotic doctor. who has since died,‘ said Mrs Walland (Buckman to his credit resisted the temptation to snigger) then to a Chinese doctor.‘ The Chinese doctor proved a touch too enthusiastic in administering
his ‘medication‘ and nearly choked the kid, who started to turn a nasty shade of dark blue. ‘We'rc Buddhists so we all started chanting and praying.‘ said Mrs Walland — slapping the kid‘s back heftily might have been a more practical response. Happily. Tom recovered and the Wallands' delusions persisted. Buckman argued convincingly that the physical trauma of the choking episode could have burst the tumour and caused it to recede.
Less forgivable was author Penny Brohn, whose book about successfully lighting breast cancer by alternative therapy skated over the fact that when it recurred three years later she took a conventional drug, which Buckman gently pointed out, has 1160 per cent success rate in cancers of this type. Deluding yourself is fine. but misleading others is cruel and dangerous.
Buckman saved the best example for last. In a wing of Charing Cross hospital a fresh-faced idealistic researcher had just collated the results from a test involving homoeopathic and placebo remedies for migraine sufferers. A large group of patients had been treated with placebos initially. then half had been switched to the homoeopathic drug and half left on the sugared water. The computers whirred and Buckman got quite excited. ‘That's enough foreplay.‘ he squealed. ‘let's have the results.‘ And the data did show a statistically significant difference in the patient groups. Trouble is. a swift phone call proved . that the patients on homoeopathic treatment were actually worse off than the patients on nothing.
‘Buckman didn’t actually crow, i dance around and go ‘nah, nah, nah nah-nah’, as I admit I would have, although he did I seem a tad relieved that his medical principles remained .7 substantially unshaken.’ '
Buckman didn‘t actually crow. dance around and go ‘nah. nah. nah. nah-nah'. as I admit i would have. although he did seem a tad relieved that his medical principles remained substantially unshaken. The homoeopathically- trained researcher swallowed his dismay. no doubt bearing in mind the marketing possibilities of the research. Look out for the posters in your local bomoeopathy emporium any day now: ‘Nothing is better than our rcmedies'. When commerce meets blind faith it's i never a pretty sight. (Tom Lappin) I
The List 2—15 July l993 65