Thanks to Bridget Christie’s award-winning show, we know that feminism can be a subject for comedy – now Andrew Watts takes the baton with a male perspective
LiF:Tell us about the new show.
AW: It’s called “Feminism for Chaps” and, even though I came up with that title before I’d written a word, that’s pretty much what the show is about. It’s basically an idiot’s guide to feminism, explained through cricket metaphors (of course) and physics experiments and silly puns.
LiF: What’s your favourite bit (so far)?
AW: There’s a bit about accidentally going to a feminist sex party with my wife that is such fun to do. It’s my favourite because a) it gets the biggest laughs of the show, and b) it took the longest to get right. The first couple of times I tried it, the audience just stared at me in horror, but I think I’ve found a way of doing it now.
LiF: Any visuals/props/silly hats?
AW: No. I’m toying with the idea of changing my tie every night, but that’s as far as I go in the direction of “wacky”.
LiF: Why did you decide to a comedy show on feminism?
AW: Because I’ve changed my mind. A couple of years ago, I would have argued that feminism had won, and getting excited about it (let alone doing a show about it) would have been as silly as getting worked up about the Hanoverian succession or the Great Reform Act. But that all changed when my wife and I had a baby – and I suddenly realised just how little the cause of equality had advanced. For my wife and me, it was perfectly natural that I should do most of the childcare – she has a very successful career, and most of the time I don’t need to leave for gigs until after my son has gone to bed – and I didn’t realise how counter-cultural we were being. I started taking my son to the nurse or to soft play or whatever and I would be treated like a freak purely because I wasn’t a woman.
LiF: Do you feel most men need a bit of educating in this area?
AW: Yes. And I think the trouble is that no one, apart from bell hooks, seems to want to try. Sure, I get it, it’s irritating for a woman who’s been a feminist all her life to be asked “What about the menz?” But a couple of years ago that would have been the sort of question I’d have been asking. And that’s why I thought this show would be interesting.
LiF: Will you be attempting to cross the minefield that is the question ‘what is a feminist?’?
AW: No. I did try to do this in some early previews and got some angry tweets. (This is what the young people do nowadays – they don’t heckle, they live-tweet the show.) And rightly so – it was grossly impertinent of me to say, in effect, that I knew better than women feminists what feminism was about. But that’s why you have previews. I think the most you can do, or should do, as a male feminist is to say which feminists you personally find convincing, and to whose views you are accountable.
LiF: Have you got any Scottish independence material to crowbar in?
AW: Are you mad? I’ve got my work cut out already … To be honest, I’ve been finding gigs north of the border a bit more hard-going since the referendum campaign started – the Scots seem to be less inclined nowadays to listen to an English guy making cricket jokes, so I’m keeping my head down on this one.
LiF: What will your daily routine be?
AW: My family’s coming up with me this year, so for the first time I will have a daily routine in Edinburgh. It’s set out on pp 229-234 of Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby Book. Oh and I’m doing the show at 6:15pm – which is a good time for a show, but means I’ll miss our son’s bathtime for a month – and MC-ing the Laughing Horse’s Pick of the Fringe at 9:30 every night.
LiF: What would you be doing this summer if you weren’t in Edinburgh?
AW: I might actually have a proper holiday.
LiF: Which 3 shows would you recommend to any punters reading?
AW: Well, if you’re going to limit it to three, I’m going to have to narrow it down … So I’m going to plug three comics who’ve helped me with my show. So go and see Stuart Black – who is a far more long-standing feminist than me – and the comedy guru Ivor Dembina; and then there’s a double-bill from John Pendal and Jack Warner, both of whom I shared a car with recently, and both of whom were kind enough to listen to me babbling and to act as a sounding-board for new bits.
• Good luck to Andrew this year – Feminists for Chaps takes place at the Counting House (on the Laughing Horse Free Festival), at 6.15pm