The show consists of six short hilarious plays that are “written by women for women”, featuring funny and relatable stories of women from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.
I caught up with associate producer Paris Rogers, a talented creative in her field who has a passion for making women’s voices feel heard and uplifting younger writers.
From the get-go, Paris makes it clear that the mission of the production is to, as she says, “champion women’s voices”, we also discuss the importance of having a diverse cast and how it broadens the perspective of the plays.
“I think comedy is different to every person and it’s about the audience being able to get a connection from what they’re seeing and say ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been in that situation.’ I think having a mixture of different backgrounds and communities allows that to happen”.
Why does such a diverse place as the UK, feature such a lack of diverse female comediennes when compared to the talent that is spotlighted elsewhere like the US?
Being mixed white/Caribbean myself, I struggle to come up with the name of one black female British comedienne.
“I think it’s our problem”, Paris answered, “we’re not being accessible and that works from within. When we were going through the writing submissions, we made sure that the people reading the submissions were diverse themselves.”
Paris strikes me as someone who genuinely cared about bringing diverse perspectives to light and was willing to walk the walk in doing so.
Being from Preston, a place where creativity and diversity aren’t as championed, Manchester feels like a thriving city, brimming with imagination and creative forces.
To better understand the city, so where does Paris think that Manchester’s creative spirit comes from.
“Manchester in general is such a friendly place, it’s a place where we help one another. I’ve been to London a lot for work and the difference is just staggering. Here you just feel so at home.”
Paris then talks about the importance of holding the event at a place like 53two, “Holding it at 53two makes it inclusive and accessible.
“If you want to watch comedy, most of the time the tickets are twenty pounds plus and some people can’t afford that. Most of Manchester is working class and we want comedy to be accessible for everyone not just a certain bracket of people”.
Inclusivity is at the heart of the production and the indiscriminate price ranges of 53two allow for that inclusivity to prosper and it means no-one is left behind.
Why is female comedy still looked down upon by some comedy audiences?
On a few Twitter and TikTok pages, there remains this toxically masculine notion that women simply “aren’t funny” and that comedy is better performed by males, Paris argues that this just simply isn’t true.
“When you talk about women being funny it is still a taboo subject and it’s something that isn’t really talked about. From my experience, it has been looked down on and we want to really challenge and tackle that”.
Although Pai Productions obviously wants to entertain audiences with their new play, they also want to inform audiences that is a large pool of talent outside the mainstream of white male comedians.
On the topic of talent outside of the mainstream, short-form comedy on Instagram and TikTok is growing larger and larger every year, it’s the quickest way to consume comedy, and most importantly it’s free.
What are Paris’s thoughts on this form of comedy and does on-stage comedy still has a place in the current climate.
“Absolutely, when you go to the theatre it’s such an experience. From the minute you walk through those doors and you’re in a room full of people laughing it’s contagious, that’s a feeling you can’t get through a screen or through watching a video.”
I find myself in agreement with her, as a relative newcomer to the world of theatre, it is magical going to see something live and laughing with people you don’t know, relating to something that you didn’t know other people had experienced. It is a feeling that can’t be replicated digitally.
Since Paris has experience working in television, I ask her if she thinks comedy engages with audiences more on-stage than it does on television.
“They both do in different ways. Theatre is so much more personal than TV and I think this show is going to push audiences to change their perspective on how comedy functions. Very often on TV, you see predominantly male comedians and if it is a woman, they’re usually white and middle-class”.
Her answer resonates with me in a strong way, as I remember being younger and watching comedy and making note of the fact that all the black comedians I liked were from America, the only comedians I knew that had a similar background to me were Lenny Henry and Doc Brown.
It’s great to hear that there are people in the theatre industry who pay attention to representation.
When I close off with a question asking about what Pai Productions is doing to pull in younger audiences, Paris responded with a quote that perfectly summarises the ethos of the production company and what Come Laugh With Us is about.
“Comedy is something that transcends all boundaries, it’s for everyone, it’s not bracketed, and it can reach all kinds of audiences. Whether you’re old or young you can all laugh about the same thing and that’s what is so good about”.
Paris was a joy to interview, and coming from a small city like Preston, it is refreshing to hear her takes on inclusivity and the strength that can be found in championing diversity and femininity.
After all, was said and done, Paris emailed me an important message that she wanted to get across.
“Comedy brings people together from all walks of life with differing viewpoints and gets them to laugh out loud at the same thing. It empowers performers to express their own opinions, to take risks, to support one another. It impacts communities. And it needs the voices of women.”
As you can see, she drops more gems than a bad jewellery thief.
Come Laugh with Us is at 53Two from 23rd – 27th May and tickets can be booked here.