Comedian Amy Vreeke on the Women in Comedy Festival and why her vagina is hilarious
Set up by Hazel O’Keefe, Manchester’s Women in Comedy Festival has been gaining momentum fast. Since its debut three years ago it has attracted the patronage of Maxine Peake, Jo Enright, Isy Suttie, and Jo Caulfield. The Independent have dubbed it “a terrific roster of stand up”, alongside The Skinny naming it as one of the UK’s Best Comedy Festivals. Hitting town for ten days, from the 20th to 30th October, it will boast the talents of the likes of Jen Brister, Suzi Ruffell, Sophie Willan, and Joanna Neary.
I had a chat with emerging comedian Amy Vreeke, whose work in progress 2016: The Year My Vagina Tried To Kill Me will be at this year’s Women in Comedy, about her work, the festival and the importance of funny females in the industry.
Amy, Hi. How are you?
Very good thank you! A bit busy with the show fast approaching!
So, you’re presenting a work in progress at the festival, 2016: The Year My Vagina Tried To Kill Me. What inspired the work and how have you gotten to this point?
It was mainly inspired by my vagina. For a while now my vagina has been trying to kill me. Last year I was diagnosed with endometriosis and it has imposed some unwelcome lifestyle changes and a new (sober) way of seeing the world. I had an operation earlier this year but it took ten years for me to be diagnosed. Part of that was feeling embarrassed about talking about it. With my show I want to raise awareness of the disease as well as encourage women to talk about these subjects. And of course, be hilarious at the same time. I have been finding my voice through stand up for the past few years and feel like I’m ready to put it to some use now!
I’m interested in what you think about certain imbalances in the industry. You don’t even have to be initiated to see people (Amy Schumer and Kristen Wiig spring to mind) being scrutinised for being funny and female. How can this be combated do you think?
Just be a comedian. That’s how I combat it. I just be funny. It is off-putting when you are first getting into the stand-up world, knowing that there can (often usually) be an air of ‘women aren’t funny’ opinions at every gig from promoters, audience members, and sometimes fellow comedians. But there are so many wonderful and supportive people in the industry that work hard towards changing these attitudes—and it is working. The Women In Comedy Festival is a shining example of this.
The title of your show definitely stands out, what kind of response does it get?
I’m writing a show about my vagina because my vagina is hilarious. Anyone who is put off by that is missing out on a whole lot of great comedy from brilliant comedians. The women you mention earlier talk about being a woman because it’s funny. We are just telling jokes, like men do, but we have a vagina. VVVVAAGGGGGIIIIIINNNNNAAAAA.
Endometriosis is quite an unfunny thing really. How have you approached blending this with comedy? What can we expect from your show?
All of the comedians that inspire me have taken something tragic, difficult, or depressing and made it funny. I think finding those moments of “If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry” and laughing anyway, maybe making other people laugh at them too, is my favourite thing in the world (apart from cat memes). There have been a lot of these moments in 2016 for me! You can expect tales of embarrassment, failure and debauchery – and of course about how my vagina has tried to kill me.
Who are you most excited to see in the festival?
I’m always so excited for the Wrap night! It’s always a huge party and this year’s line-up includes two of my absolute favourites—Sophie Willan and Haley Ellis. I also can’t wait for Sunday 23rd, Barbra Nice, who is just the most fun act to watch, and the proper funny Jackie Hagan at The Frog and Bucket.
And lastly, why do you think the Women In Comedy Festival is such a fast growing festival in Manchester?
The festival crew work so hard all year round to make each year bigger and better than the last. It always seems impossible, but with the spectacular Hazel O’Keefe running things it seems anything is possible! I think the quality of shows for your money rivals any other festival. It is an amazing event, and people are wanting to be part of it!
Amy Vreeke presents ‘2016: The year my vagina tried to kill me’ at Kosmonaut at 8pm-9pm. The event is pay as you feel, featuring a guest spot from Kimi Loughton. Tickets available from www.womenincomedy.co.uk.