BOOBS

There, now I’ve got your attention, I’ll tell you some jokes.

…would be a really lame way to start a comedy set, right?

Thankfully though, this is the start of my blog, and the blog is about boobs (and other lady things). So you’ll let me off? Won’t you? WON’T YOU??

You will.

Anyway, the thing is, I am trying to work out whether or not it is OK to talk about my boobs in my set and I wondered if you could help? So I’ve been talking a lot in my set lately about them and it always really conflicts me. I happened to come up with some decent jokes around them: I didn’t set out to write about my boobs, in fact I avoided it, but most comics will know that sometimes the pen/mind takes you somewhere you didn’t mean to go, much like an under-qualified minicab driver, or a Malaysian pilot.

So I end up with this material about my boobs that has come out of the end of my pen Ouija-board style, and THE MATERIAL REALLY WORKS, EVERY GIG. So the problem this lands me with is: I am consistently advised that women shouldn’t talk about women things.

We shouldn’t really talk about our boobies. We shouldn’t really talk about our vaginas (or with them, but that would be anatomically complicated)*.  It would be advisable not to talk about dating guys. And, above all else, we must NEVER EVER talk about our periods. Menstruation is the Fight Club of the comedy world.

At least, that’s what I got told a lot when I was starting out, in comedy courses, and by seasoned acts.

And I’ve always thought that I agreed. But then I was thinking about my boob material and reading how many summer festival comedy line-ups are under-staffed with females and I thought:

Why shouldn’t I write about lady things?? I AM A LADY.

I mean, are we supposed to pretend we are not ladies? Because the clues are all there as we walk on stage – and if other comedians are allowed to talk about their physical attributes when they walk on (“yes, yes, I know what you’re all thinking, you’re thinking that I look like Michael McIntyre crossed with a stapler / Warwick Davies when viewed through a periscope / Brian Blessed if his head was turned upside down and cut in half and then the other half was Judy Garland”) – I SHOULD BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT MY BOOBS.

However, I guess in an industry where women are cut from comedy bills to keep the female quotient down AND THE PROMOTER THINKS THAT REASONING IS SO OKAY THEY DON’T EVEN COME UP WITH AN EXCUSE TO CONCEAL IT, in an industry where a TV producer’s approach to keeping seats open to females on a panel show is to give them to glamour models and pretty presenters, in an industry where we repeatedly hear stories of female comics being sexually goaded on stage – not just by audiences but by the compere – you do end up asking yourself, is it worth it?

Is it worth it to keep writing female-skewing material when females themselves are considered challenging enough to be on a comedy bill?

I guess what I’m saying is: if V Festival and T in the Park were so squeamish about even the sight of women they at first didn’t book any female comics into their tents, should we steer clear of writing about being a woman? Should female comics take on the gender gap by stealth, infiltrating the comedy scene first with apparently ‘acceptable’ material (i.e. no boob joke in sight), and then once the balance has been struck and the women have all reached the front-line, they unleash all that material? When I write this sentence I’m picturing myself as a sort of comedic Trojan horse, writing middle-of-the-road material as I surreptitiously penetrate the various layers of comedy heirarchy, before reaching the hallowed ground (it’s a spot on Russell Howard’s Good News, isn’t it? It is.) and finally talking about the reasons my pet names for my tits are Ant and Dec.

I guess I sound reductive here: I’m not saying that all women want to talk about their boobs, and I’m not saying that there are no men that want to talk about these lady-topics. But this is my blog so I’m going from my perspective of a woman who occasionally likes talking about being a woman. And the message seems to be ‘shhhh, don’t say anything to let them know that’s what you are!’

What is encouraging though is that the material works. So maybe it’s not the audiences, but the promoters, who are lacking in an appetite for women and the material that may come with them. That gives me hope that promoters/bookers are just slow on the uptake: eventually they’ll notice that their audiences don’t collectively projectile vomit the minute a woman walks on stage and allow us on more.

Either way, I still agree period jokes should be off limits – but that’s cos hearing about other people’s bodily functions grosses me out, regardless of whether they’re a bloke or a girl. But that’s just me. I’m just one audience member in a crowd of hundreds of thousands both at live gigs and watching on the telly. And that’s the point.  Promoters need to deliver across the variety of tastes of their audiences. So they should probably take note when their audiences are pissing themselves laughing and it’s a woman on stage. It isn’t fluke.

Problem page podcast

Mills and Boob aka myself and Vicky are hoping to change lives with our agony aunt podcast. For advice on penis lumps, joint accounts and buying a dick-basket in Stoke Newington on a Sunday afternoon, listen to the podcast

If you have a problem that needs halving or even quartering, send them our way

Brighton Fringe

Sarah Mills at Cult of Comedy, Brighton Fringe

Me doing my thang at Cult of Comedy, Brighton Fringe 2014

Had a great time at the Brighton Fringe at the weekend! The lovely Cult of Comedy had me back on the bill at The Blue Man where they are hosting a shed load of different comedians throughout the festival. Sunday’s show included a Lionel Richie impression, comedy jingles (me, obvs), a West Norwood reunion and a bucket full of belly laughs.

Cult of Comedy will be showcasing the talents of lots more uber-talented funny people at this lovely venue throughout the festival. Have a look here to book your tickets and let me know who you see there.

Mills and Boob: Agony Aunts

Send us your problems!

Myself and the fabulous Victoria Kember have a mission to make the world a better place by being lovely lovely Agony Aunts. And recording it all for a comedy podcast.

But we can’t do that unless you send us your problems! We will talk about any problem sent to us so please do let us know and we will try to come up with a solution.

So if there’s anything bugging you, please send it our way completely anonymously. And keep an eye on @sazzymills on Twitter to find out when we’ve recorded the answers.

Write what you know: working in telly

telly

A telly. Remeber when they looked like that?

The many thousands of people that read my blog will know that this is the final in the trilogy of writing jokes about things I know. We skipped a chapter because I was too busy writing a blog about New Year (in January! I got something right Mum! Though I guess if I was really trying to stand out from the crowd I would write a blog on New Year in June).

So here is the last of the three. As with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, getting to the end may require you to be blind drunk for it to make any sense. Like Godfather III, you’ll find yourself wondering ‘why the Vatican subplot?’ Or it could even be likened to Return of the Jedi ‘cos it’s probably going to be woefully substandard.

This one’s about me working in telly. Which is something I wanted to do ever since I was making television sets out of cardboard as a child (admittedly I did also make flip flops out of cardboard and even imaginary friends out of cardboard. I’m now barefoot and lonely but at least I’m living my dream).

Knightmare

Knightmare (Rex Features)

TV producers are freelance so part of our year we don’t work and instead lounge around the house – which makes me feel vicariously like a dirty benefits scrounger which I like to say only because it makes me feel better about the fact that I do occasionally claim benefits. And then the rest of the year I work at TV companies trying to come up with new programmes. People in my job spend half their time considering what the next big hit to follow on from the X Factor could be, whether it would be better to re-launch Knightmare or The Generation Game (Knightmare, obvs), or how to distill the popularity of the mobile phone game Angry Birds for a television audience. And the other half wondering what in hell was the point of studying Aeschylus at University. My good friends Stu and Dan, who are development bods as well as being comedians, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

So you spend your time coming up with programme ideas and pitching them to broadcasters. The fact of the job is that 99 of every 100 ideas you come up with will never see the light of day. Some people would call that Wastage. I call it Possible Material.

There was the time I pitched Sheikhs on a Plane which was not in any way a programme idea, just a really fun pun that I LOVED (if you’ve ever said to yourself ‘gah, these television producers, they must just start with a silly title and make a television programme to fit it,’ bingo, you are correct, sir). Sadly I could not make a TV show out of it, so it has now become a joke about 9/11 conspiracists. In a similar vein, I was desperate to pitch How Deep Is Your Dove? but try as I might I couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that the skincare brand is in financial difficulty. There was the time I mistyped Bear Grylls as Near Grylls and suddenly had a ready-made joke about the TV adventurer’s very own tribute act.

Basically, my job is like the Sainsbury’s Make Your Roast Go Further campaign. All the bits I don’t use in the day get rehashed and turned into jokes in the evening. And I try and mix the really shit bits in with the prime stuff and hope no-one notices.

So, in conclusion, I don’t really write comedy about the job, I use the job to write comedy (as a purely accidental and non-time-consuming byproduct – I hasten to add for the benefit of any employers reading this!). So I’m not writing what I know, which is a shame. I guess if I was an accountant or a computer programmer or a teacher everyone would know what I did. These job titles are all shorthand for worlds which we are familiar with. But what I find often is that no-one really understands what my job is (especially not my mum and dad, much to their chagrin), so unless I do a preamble I can’t really get into the topic with ease. So I leave it to one side.

But – hang on a sec! – what I have been forgetting all this time is that I definitely *do* work with a medium that everyone knows. The TV programmes listed above we are all resolutely familiar with….oh my God, why didn’t I think of this before?

Pob

Pob (Ragdoll Producciones)

 

So, decision made – I will write jokes about all of TV! This is an excellent day in which I discovered another rich area of life that I can talk about. And like all the other stuff it is a completely pointless area (but one that I have nevertheless made my life’s work out of). There’s the question of what type of animal Pob actually is, there’s the pointlessness of the show Extreme Couponing, there’s the extreme superness of the show Pointless and the fact that I once knew someone who went on Jim’ll Fix It. I don’t think I am EVER going to run out of material.

So thanks for coming with me on this three-part journey on Writing What You Know. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that there’s always some prime material on your doorstep, you just have to remind yourself how it is you feel about the things that are ever-present in your life. There’s no point raging about an ex-boyfriend that you actually just feel sorry for, or pretending that you hated growing up in an estuary sink town when in truth you found it quite fun. It’s our unusual and unique responses to otherwise recognisable life experiences that make for interesting material on stage. And there’s always a way to make stuff accessible – even if no-one, not even your parents, understands what you do for a living.

But do you not know anything else about life Sarah? I hear you cry. Yes I do. Here are the other things I know about:

  • French music at the turn of the last century
  • Every world capital (if you’d like to test me on this via Skype or summat be my guest)
  • Correct use of Skype
  • How to care for Russian dwarf hamsters (apart from the one that I like to think is living a very lovely life in the wall cavities of our old house in Stevenage)
  • How to solve quadratic equations
  • How to solve quadratic men
  • How to solve quadratic quandries
  • The Montessori method
  • Red Dwarf
  • Blanket stitch
  • How to plaster a wall
  • The oeuvre of work to date created by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer
  • How to create a graveyard for Russian dwarf hamsters in your back garden when they all eventually die of natural causes
  • I also know that the capital of Vatican city is Vatican city which means that it is the capital of itself, which to my mind creates a circular paradox that will ultimately lead to the Vatican imploding, in a series of events that will ironically resemble the apocalypse as foretold in the Bible’s Revelation of John.

If you’ve managed to read this blog full of navel gazing I commend you. If you’ve spent the rest of my blog in a seething rage over my Return of the Jedi comments, you and I probably don’t need to talk so much any more.

Roll credits.

New Year’s

Yay it’s the New Year!!! Wooooooo!!! OMG it’s gonna be MEGA we are going to have a party that is OFF THE HOOK. I am going to get SO TRASHED and then SNOG SOMEONE (teeheehee!) at midnight.

Then once midnight has struck I am going to CHANGE EVERYTHING about my life. I’m going to suddenly have a completely different kind of appetite and an ENTIRELY NEW relationship with tobacco and basically lobotomise myself and then insert in my head a new brain that will mean I’ll have better attitudes to All of Life.

fireworks

NO.

STOP IT.

NO.

This ISN’T how New Year’s works and you know it and I know it and everyone else knows it. Maybe let’s NOT PRETEND it’s going to be anything other than the Bobby Davro of events – you really want to like it, it really wants you to like it and you can rely on it to appear with grim regularity, but ultimately it hasn’t been any good since the early 90′s when you were too stupid and too 8-years-old to realise how rubbish it is.

In honour of that thought, I plan to make some plans for my comedy in 2014 that are no different to the plans I made at the beginning of 2013. Just like a New Year’s party never turns out to be as good as you’re told it’s going to be, I’m not going to make some elaborate grand plan that will ultimately see me taking over the world of comedy – because that’s not going to happen, and that’s fine*.

Instead: I am going to make sure I regularly gig. I will make myself write every week.  ’ll look for small progressions everywhere. And I am going to try not to sleep with any comics on the circuit because, just as you shouldn’t shit where you eat, you shouldn’t bonk where you stand in front of a crowd of strangers with a microphone, seeking their approval (save that for Vegas). But I will occasionally slip so I will allow myself to sleep with a grand total of two other comics in 2014 – just as in 2013.

There is an understanding that if you keep doing the same thing it means you will stagnate and you aren’t really ‘reaching for the stars.’

But I say that’s bollocks. Sometimes you’ve just got to work. There aren’t that many shortcuts in stand-up comedy* – just short cu(n)ts – and you may as well spend the time you would have done chasing the shortcuts actually attempting to Become A Better Comic. Through work. Also if you wear higher heels hopefully you’ll be able to see over the heads of the short cu(n)ts and pretend they’re not there.

Lots of people seem to wake up on New Year’s Day saying that “this will be MY year.” They’re going to take on the world and the world won’t know what’s hit it! And they’re right – things can change overnight – but not just New Year’s Eve. Every day, I plan to keep working and hopefully be a little bit better than the day before.

And then in three years time I’ll take over the world of comedy. Just three more shit parties to go then.

Write what you know: really bad break-ups

My last blog was the first in a series of three on writing jokes about things that I know.  We have covered my unfortunate growing up in Stevenage (it was the Stevenage part that I meant was unfortunate but the growing up part weren’t pretty either).

So here is the next instalment: really bad breakups! Hooray!

So…really bad break-ups. I guess the reason I don’t really talk about mine in my set is that I don’t want to be an enormous walking cliché of every comedienne to ever grace a stage: a man dumped me, so here I am with a ukulele and a broken heart, telling jokes about how much weight I lost (the weight of an entire human being! Guffaw guffaw guffaw sob) and M&S meals for one. It’s depressing and moreover it’s not really true to me. Life is different, it’s not worse. And I can’t afford M&S ready meals.

And another reason is that a break up is never really one person’s story to tell. When I see people talking about their exes I always feel like I’m only getting one person’s side of the story and automatically that person looks bitter. Really, what I should be doing is bringing my ex along with me to do a double act on our break-up. But his new girlfriend might not go for that idea. And also he’s not very funny. HA! #definitelynotbitter

But since I have decided to go down this path (see the above part of my blog where I decided to write about this shit. You know what they say: what goes in a blog is binding) I should try to find the funny in the situation. Look!  Here are some bullet points!

  • You get to not have regular sex which is VERY ANNOYING because the ironic thing about sex is that if you don’t have it for a while you get IN A BAD MOOD and VERY ANGRY. And you know what is NOT a good come-on to guys who might have otherwise contemplated sex with you? Being GRUMPY and ANGRY. I could do maybe five minutes of what flirtation and sexy dancing looks like if it’s done by someone who’s raging inside because of their BURNING LOINS.
  • Everyone around you suddenly gets VERY WORRIED about your eggs. Because you’re nearly 30 and the man they thought would impregnate you has just left and OBVIOUSLY all you’ve EVER wanted in your life was for tiny humans to squeeze their way out of your abdomen like Sylvanian families that have become sentient and are escaping through a small hole they gnawed in their packaging. Suddenly your fertility becomes fair game for everyone to talk about, as if the contents of people’s organs is a normal conversation topic to bring up.
  • Dating websites. If my blog had sound effects this would be the moment a klaxon would go off. Because I reckon there are enough jokes about dating websites out there already.
  • You end up writing blogs about your break-up.

Ah, that was fun. It made me feel a whole lot better as well. Which is I guess why people write jokes about the things that go wrong in their lives.

Get me a ukulele, it looks like my set’s gonna get more clichéd.