Townsville’s laugh-loving ladies are being given the chance to hone their comedic skills in a women’s comedy workshop on 22 September. But it’s no laughing matter.
Jacqui Bisson, organiser of the Women Up Front Comedy Workshop, said while honing the comedic writing ability and stand-up performances of the workshop participants was the ultimate aim of the day, this funny business also came with a serious side: improving mental, emotional and social wellbeing.
“It’s really important to be able to laugh at some of the serious stuff,” said Jacqui.
“Often women have that natural comic ability because instead of being dragged down by stuff, they overcome it by turning it into something funny. I think if women shared that more, and that other women – and men – who are stressed and depressed were able to have that resilience and turn crappy situations into something funny, we’d all be better off.
“It’s the accumulation of little things that annoy the crap out of you. Like I do some comedy myself and a lot of mine comes from my relationship with my husband. It’s all those little things, like the washing basket will be in one place and he’ll leave his washing two-metres shy of it and that sort of thing.
“I’ve made up this medley of songs about all the things he does that annoy me, so for that one I’ve got So Far Away From Me by Dire Straits. The washing basket’s there, but it’s just so far away from me, so far I just can’t see – you know that bit?”
Jacqui said she’d found comedy could be a great conduit for those awkward conversations, that we will all need to have as we reach certain life stages.
“I wrote a set about getting older and about everything just falling apart, physically,” she said.
“There’s all these menus of Viagra and I didn’t know it before, but there is a home-brand version. So in the home-brand it’s 12 for I dunno, about $30, I think. Anyway, it ends up being about $2.30 for a bang and my friend Jen said ‘No, no Jacqui it’s much more than that, it’s about $96 a packet and you only get four’ and I said ‘Well you must get the real thing for it to be that expensive. I’m not interested in that. Who wants to go all night long? No! You just want bang for your buck don’t you? One shag a month, 12 shags in a packet. There you go!’
Jacqui – who’s been working in the welfare sector for 30 years, both with at-risk children and women visiting women’s shelters – said comedy and creative writing (she’s also a songwriter) could be highly therapeutic. She’s used her writing, both comedic and serious, to broach subjects as varied as the endangered albatross and the history of atrocities against women from witch hunts to the societal pressures to look and behave a certain way (which are more closely aligned than you may first suspect).
“It’s a great way to raise awareness because when you’re using comedy, people still listen and take notice and they do get the message. Whereas if you sit there and say to people ‘what are you doing that for? That’s just social structures. You look good the way you are. Just be natural’ they find that offensive and that you’re putting pressure on them as well because you’re not supporting their freedom to do what they want to do.
“Raising topics [like body image] through comedy is about supporting women to do whatever they want to do as long as they are informed about why they’re doing it.”
The Women Up Front Comedy Workshop, facilitated by Susan Mattocks, will be held on 22 September 2018. For information and registrations, contact Jacqui Bisson on 0403 321 283.