Let us talk about accessibility…
On my 2016 tour of my second show 'Shimmer Shatter', I decided to try and make the tour more accessible. I wanted each venue to be anxiety safe and have gender neutral bathrooms. Because I was so late with the idea, not all venues could accommodate me, but a lot of them did, of which I am proud.
On my 2017-2018 tour of 'Dead Baby Frog', I made it a demand that every venue was anxiety safe, had gender neutral bathrooms and were wheelchair accessible. On top of which, I had a trigger warning for my show. Only a few venues failed to comply - and that was due to misunderstandings on behalf of the venues, something I was unable to fix even though I tried. My deepest apologies to anyone affected.
So, let is talk about this, so that we have it all out in the open. Words mean different things to different people and I'd love to explain. I am not going to justify WHY I have tried to make my shows accessible, but I will go through the WHATs and WHENs.
What does an 'anxiety safe' gig mean?
When I do shows that I mark as 'anxiety safe', it means that if you have any anxiety to do with going to a live comedy show, you can e-mail me ahead of it and tell me if there is any way I can make it easier for you. Maybe you need to sit in an aisle seat, maybe you want to be let into the room before the audience, maybe you need to know if I mention certain words or topics. Either way, we will try and make it work.
Does this mean you'll change the show if I don't like certain topics?
Absolutely not. I can only tell you what's almost certainly going to be spoken about in the show, but I can't and won't change anything creatively to accommodate your anxiety.
Does this mean you will DEFINITELY do whatever I need you to do, in order for me to not be anxious?
Nope. I will do whatever I can do within reason.
What does gender neutral bathrooms mean?
It means that the bathrooms will not be marked 'female' and 'male' and instead they will be unisex. If a venue does not already have unisex bathrooms, I will bring signs to put on the doors - the signs will cover the gendered symbols - and they will say 'Gender Neutral Toilet (with urinals)', 'Gender Neutral Toilet (without urinals)' or 'Gender Neutral Toilet'. It will also urge people to treat each other with respect.
Did you steal this concept from the amazing band The Spook School who did this on their tour?
Yes, I did.
What is a trigger warning and how did that work?
My 2017 show 'Dead Baby Frog' was about my emotionally abusive grandfather, which is potentially triggering for victims of abuse. So a trigger warning, in this case, meant that I told the audience that they were about to see a show about emotional and physical abuse. I made an announcement before I started the show and told people that they were free to leave, if they needed to. I also put little leaflets on the seats of my Edinburgh Fringe 2017 run with the trigger warning printed on the front and numbers for helplines printed on the back. I also spoke about it on my podcast loads and put it on this website.
Will all of your shows have trigger warnings?
No. 'Dead Baby Frog' was an exception because I reveal the topic of the show in the very, very beginning. In my first show 'Bubblewrap', I talked about self-harm and being admitted to a psychiatric hospital but that happened later on in the show, so I did not do a trigger warning for that. So no, you cannot expect a trigger warning when you go to my shows - but you are always allowed to contact me through my manager and ask if the show is about a potential trigger for you. Then I will be honest and give you as many spoilers as you want.
Will all of your shows be inclusive and politically correct?
So, there are three types of comedy shows that I do. I do my own full-hour shows, which I usually do in Edinburgh and on tour and in a theatre in London. I will always try to make these inclusive and politically correct - meaning that I will always aim towards not making marginalised people the butt of any jokes. But - no promises, we all fuck up.
I then do comedy club gigs - and if you have seen me at those, you'll know that it's a bit different. It is another scene, another world and it's me doing my job to entertain an audience, so old jokes from a time where I was not that informed will slip in there.
And then I do new material nights, open mics and work-in-progress shows. Absolutely NO promises made there. That is my playground and I can and will say whatever springs out of my mouth. I have to just let my brain empty itself without any limitations so I can figure out what's funny and interesting and sometimes, this means awful mistakes. These shows are good if you want to see the process of creating a show and jokes, not if you want to laugh at something you can relate to. Wait till the full show is finished to see that.
Will all of your shows ever have gender neutral toilets, be anxiety safe, have trigger warnings and wheelchair access?
No. So far, I have been lucky that I have had a great team behind me helping me find the perfect venues for my tour, but there is a limited amount of venues available and when you build a tour, it is dependent on a lot of things - availability, cost, professional relationship, distance between venues, ticket pricing and so on. Sometimes I will have to choose between gigging in a venue that does not have wheelchair access and not gigging in that town or area at all.
Also - these are just tour shows of my full-hour shows. Venues in Edinburgh are notoriously hard to police, seeing as you're lucky to get a venue in the first place.
It is also not something I can do with work-in-progress shows or comedy club shows or just guest spots on other people's shows.
If you have accessibility needs, it is worth checking with the venues first, checking this website and worst case, get in touch. I will try to make the information very clear and visible on this page, when I do have big tour shows coming up. But I would hate to see you turn up at a gig I am doing, expecting it to be fully accessible when that is far from something I can do for every single one of my gigs.