Showcasing the absurdity of the gender pay gap
By Caitlin McGrane
When I first saw the title for Elizabeth Davie’s Comedy Festival show, Super Woman Money Program, I thought it was a joke. But alas, it is a real thing that real people thought was a good idea. The advice dispensed by overly enthusiastic companies looking to “improve” women’s lives is often truly absurd – in the show’s opening, Davie recounts how she received an email from her superannuation firm with some “advice” for women. The whole situation is infuriating, and Davie does a great job of showcasing the absurdity – from the fact that the gender pay gap even exists in the first place to the range of deeply offensive and infantilizing behaviours women are told to adopt in order to avoid financial ruin.
You’d almost think the system was broken…
When the audience entered the theatre, we were greeted by Davie calmly pacing around the stage – she commanded the space and encouraged the audience to settle in and choose a sticker that best represents their financial situation. Naturally, I chose ‘I have no idea what I am doing.’
The whole show is extremely clever, witty and engaging – there is none of the rambling, off-kilter deviating that sometimes lets down a comedy show. The writing is sharp and tight – directors Shannan Lim and Sharnema Nougar have done a great job weaving together all the different parts of Davie’s story that make her such an interesting performer to watch.
For me, the show really worked well when Davie was riffing on her own experience with financial struggles, including her relationship with an ex-boyfriend who sounds, frankly, like a complete bell end. Her visible vulnerabilities were the parts of the show that really stood out to me, and were closer to my own experience with debt ($60k in HECS – I looked it up) and the laughable suggestion that most Gen Ys might one day own a house (L-O-fucking-L).
Davie’s command of her material and her ideas was impressive – she owned the stage and the room, even making audience participation effective in driving home the way some of us are being screwed by the system. Anyone who’s willing to stand up on stage alone and tell jokes has my total and utter admiration, while Davie might not have had me rolling in the aisles, she made me smile all the way through her show. The biggest laughs for me came during her stand-up sections, when she slowed down and read out some of her emails (sounds weird but isn’t).
I’m interested to see what Davie does next, and would like to see more personal vulnerability in her work, especially through her clowning. The message she imparts through Super Woman Money Program is extremely important and pertinent, but I thought she could tell it perfectly well on her own without needing to sit down and literally tell us a story.
Super Woman Money Program is being performed at Tasma Terrace until 22 April. Tickets can be purchased online and by calling the box office on 03 9245 3788.
Photograph: Nayt Housman