Based on my own observations at comedy shows in Leicester, along with the audience stats from the blog and facebook etc, it seems that the regular comedy-going audience is about two thirds male and one third female. And anyone who's been to any comedy night, ever, will tell you that the vast majority of the performers on the evening are male - sometimes there is a token woman on the bill, sometimes not.
How refreshing it was, then, to be one of only three men in the audience on Tuesday night to watch an all-female line-up at The Red Tent. And if all you male readers think this sounds terrifyingly intimidating, you couldn't be more wrong. The atmosphere at Laughing Calves night was nothing but welcoming, friendly and inclusive, with the acts receiving a great deal of encouragement from the crowd. It was definitely a ladies night, but not in the 'drunken hen party, whooping at strippers' sense - more in the 'let's just have a great night without having to put up with all the usual macho bullshit' sense. Even the three vaguely terrified-looking chaps in the crowd weren't picked on too badly.
Host Maureen Younger helped to establish a lively and energetic vibe to the evening, with some very funny material both old and new, and some very sharp and witty put-downs in her audience interaction. Headliner Bethany Black (minus the goth make-up) was very impressive too - a confident performer with material that effectively combined dark and quirky observations with frank and hilariously graphic admissions from her own personal life. The 12 or so new acts, each performing a five minute set, provided a fast-moving and varied feel to the evening. Highlights included Lisa Deville's graphic exploration of the messier side of motherhood, Lu Lo taking the opportunity to quiz the audience on lesbian chat-up etiquette, Ishi Khan-Jackson's playful take on Bollywood dancing and Madge Hooks' beautifully understated silliness. Overall a very varied and enjoyable evening - roll on the next Laughing Calves!