Back in September, the brilliant comic talent that is Brendon Burns wrote a Chortle piece decrying the lack of diversity in the comedy scene. It really caught something in me.
Back in 2015 I was interviewed by Simon Caine for his excellent Ask The Industry podcast and he asked me about my diversity policy when booking gigs on the open mic scene. At the time I staged more of them than anyone else in the country.
I responded along the lines that I had no policy at all, who was I to be the decider of such issues? Further, so far as I could tell, the bookings were fairly well reflective of the scene. For example, I think female acts represent around one in eight on that circuit and there’s typically a couple of females on each bill, so it was reasonable representation I thought, the balance was organic.
Of course, there are other ‘minority’ groups such as gay people, folks with black or brown skin, disabled… My attitude was that no one got booked ‘because of…’ and nobody denied a spot ‘because of….’ either. As I believe that I carry no notable prejudice, I assumed all was OK.
Brendon’s article snapped me out of that apathy, driven by the point that the dominating voice of straight white males was killing the diversity of opinion, experience and attitude, that when delivered well by an honest and talented performer, often allows for the presentation of the most exciting and illuminating material.