Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda is playing as Megan Ford greets the small audience gathering to watch her Edinburgh Fringe preview in Islington; she confesses that she’s having to resist the urge to twerk. Some people simply radiate warmth and positivity – this comedian is one of those people. We share a brief conversation about her pre-Edinburgh nerves. Her relief at having this week realised that there are actually people in the world who have no awareness of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe whatsoever, is palpable. By the end of her show, I want to drag all of those people to Edinburgh and sit them in front of her show, Feminasty, because it’s one of the funniest, most thought-provoking and empowering performances I’ve ever seen.
Immediately, Ford’s explanation that her feminist enlightenment has become “truly irritating” to anyone who knows her, but that she “can’t unsee it” (last Christmas’s John Lewis’s ad has been brilliantly spoilt for me forever) is totally relatable for many of us in the audience. Throughout her show, she somehow manages to be self-deprecating whilst simultaneously inspiring us to start The Revolution Against The Patriarchy.
Feminasty is an attack on the portrayal of women in the mass media. And yet “attack” feels like almost too strong a word, because whilst Ford is undoubtedly as angry as hell with the status quo, her criticism is constructive. Linked together by pieces of powerful stand-up about women in media, she presents instantly recognisable sketches starring a plethora of OTT, grotesque (sometimes painful – in the sense that on more than one occasion I think “Oh my god, there are bits of me in there!”) characters who demonstrate the need for change; the need to get involved in destroying the representation of women as fodder – disposable, interchangeable and easily replaced. The audio that plays between costume changes parodies TV advertisements and movie trailers, having the audience in fits of laughter whilst also having the “ouch” factor because, y’know, the truth hurts. Rape culture and victim blaming, gun control, Gamergate, intersectionality, ageism, revenge porn…she tackles it all. And it’s bloody brilliantly executed. It’s no mean feat to be able to get a small and therefore rather self-conscious audience to sing along to her Feminasty rap at the end of the show: “Let’s get trashy and overthrow this shit, get feminasty – even if you got a dick!” And the dick thing is important. Ford explains that the show wouldn’t work as well without men in the audience, so they are embraced (both metaphorically and literally – at one point hilariously soothed with a Julie Andrews style lullaby with a twist). She’s looking to start a revolution, and we’re all in this together.
Spectacularly exhausting to watch, Ford is tireless, energetic and passionate. Her banquet of characters includes Oklahoma, the mindless teenage YouTuber; Tiffany Quaesadilla, the all-too-recognisable showbiz reporter; Kaz, the binge-drinking party girl, and Maddie Mitchell, “for Lady Congresslady”to name but a few. She leaves you hungry for more though feeling positively gorged. Megan Ford is a huge, huge talent.
She leaves you hungry for more though feeling positively gorged. Megan Ford is a huge, huge talent.
After the show, I speak to other audience members who tell me they’d needed her to stop because they hadn’t had time to recover from laughing at one character before they started laughing at the next; they have stomach pains from laughing so much. What higher recommendation could you need to see a comedian?
We all laugh at the show’s opening as Ford declares that, in this little room in an Islington pub, we could start The Revolution. By the end of it, I feel as though we damn well could.
Kim is a writer who enjoys celebrity gossip a lot more than she lets on.