Young women are smashing it at Edinburgh as the #MeToo legacy kicks in | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett | Opinion

Why are men, who have the whole world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about. To subvert Christopher Hitchens’ infamous Vanity Fair piece: I’m not saying that men are humourless, or cannot make good wits or comedians. But, almost a year after a string of accusations by women against Harvey Weinstein kickstarted the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, male comedians simply aren’t having the most groundbreaking and hilarious conversations.

In Edinburgh, people keep joking that 2018 isn’t a great year to be a straight white man at the fringe and, to an extent, they are correct. Young female comics are grappling with big questions in their shows, in inventive, transgressive, and brilliantly funny ways. Really, in terms of who is smashing it jokes-wise, there’s no contest.

Two of the best shows I saw last week – both of which have been garnering four- and five-star reviews from critics – were by comics Rose Matafeo and Kiri Pritchard-McLean. Matafeo’s zany look at her own teenage sexuality and how it interacts with the internet (“Men with their shit together should be a porn category”) delves into her contradictory feelings about men and feminism (“I’d probably fuck the patriarchy if he had nice arms”).

Pritchard-McLean’s show is altogether darker, though no less funny (full disclosure: in a bizarre inversion of the old boy network, McLean went to the same Welsh comprehensive as I did, though we are not close and, despite appearances, our school was not, officially at least, some kind of finishing school for angry feminists). Victim, Complex is the comic’s story of being gaslighted by the ex who cheated on her over the course of many years. The term is taken from the 1938 stage play Gaslight, and refers to a particular kind of emotional abuse which involves manipulating another person into doubting their own sanity. Since Donald Trump was elected, and in the wake of #MeToo, it has come into…

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