Bursting onto the comedic scene: ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’ and why we need strong female comics
“Ultimately, we are women being funny and somehow that makes us feminist.”
Sitting in the smoking area of The Star Inn in Guildford yesterday, Natalie Patuzzo’s words echoed a lot of what has been said recently regarding women in comedy. As a fan of stand-up and a regular Guilty Feminist listener, I’m continuously aware that comedy has historically been a very masculine space. While comics such as Amy Schumer, Iliza Schlesinger and Ali Wong are definitely welcome additions to the Netflix Specials world of female comics, in comedy clubs across the UK and USA, the people telling the jokes are overwhelmingly male.
What’s more, anything that attempts to be categorised as ‘feminist comedy’ or ‘feminist theatre’ is frequently ridiculed and female comics, writers, producers and artists are continuously fighting to be taken seriously. Patuzzo recalls one such piece of theatre they studied involving a woman “smearing period blood on their face” and acknowledges the need for feminist art to have an impact without weirding the audience out too much.
On that note, I welcome the work of three-woman theatre company Soft Pedal Collective and their latest show ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’.
All graduating from Rose Bruford College, Beckie Granger, Natalie Patuzzo and Lily Jordan-Freer are buzzing with that creative fervour of any artist fresh out of their studies. Having just performed their latest show ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’ to the lovely people of Guildford Fringe, we discussed their three-women one-woman show in all its fearless feminist glory.
Beckie tells me that ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’ was created after herself, Natalie and Lily decided they all wanted to do a one-woman show but crucially didn’t want to do it alone. Somewhat redefining the genre, rehearsals got under way and in April 2019, the three comics premiered their show at The Waitress Club Festival in Hackney before performing it at the Rose Bruford Symposium and taking it to Guildford Fringe.
Becoming friends at drama school, Granger, Patuzzo and Jordan-Freer worked together previously on some of Beckie’s own writing ‘Roll With It’, which they previewed at the Rose Bruford Symposium in 2018, but they say Soft Pedal Collective only really began to take shape with the birth of ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’.
In the intimate back-room theatre of this 16th Century pub, the show tells each woman’s individual story about her experience of life as a 21st Century woman.
Patuzzo is up first. Having trained in mime and clown at the prestigious Non-Verbal Theatre Academy in Prague and at L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Patuzzo begins by destabilising the room. Audiences at Fringe events don’t tend to be shy but, with Patuzzo on stage, you can feel the room hold its breath as we wait to see who she picks on next. Bringing the audience into her work, there’s a vulnerability transferred from the performer to the audience that feels necessary for a show that asks audience members to withhold their judgments and challenge their beliefs while revealing and critiquing some of the darker sides of a still distinctly gendered culture.
Lily Jordan-Freer takes over. Interested in politics, physical theatre, the surreal and the strange, Jordan-Freer dissected our society’s fetishisation of the word ‘Daddy’ and how its multiple meanings have impacted her own life. She discusses how such a simple word can cross boundaries between the pure and paternal, the fetishized and sometimes the abusive.
And Granger. Specialising in comedy and musical theatre, Granger’s writing has been showcased at Redgates Theatre as well as performed at numerous Stagecoach Theatre Art Schools across the south. Her performance in ‘The Hoe-ly Trinity’ responds to some of Jordan-Freer’s more hard-hitting critiques on the fetishisation of language by diving into an appropriately Granger-esque exaggerated rendition of ‘happy birthday’ before discussing the female orgasm through a mock poem called ‘Inhale’ and serenading the audience with her own song ‘Not all men’ which you will undoubtably get stuck in your head.
These fearless feminist ladies are significantly contributing to the rebuilding of the comedic space as one which includes, respects and needs the voices and experiences of women. Partnering the seriousness of women’s issues with a light-hearted format in which difficult discussions can be sensitively had, I look forward to seeing where Soft Pedal Collective goes next.