Review: Stand Up Tragedy, Dogstar

Dave Pickering
Dave Pickering

If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve come across ‘mansplaining’ even if you haven’t heard of the term. It’s that irritating way some men carefully explain things to (usually) women, dumbing whatever it is down to suit the female brain.

Stand Up Tragedy’s two act show at the Dogstar on Thursday 19th November (International Men’s Day) started with ‘What About the Men? Mansplaining Masculinity’, which sought to explain masculinity, or more precisely, patriarchy, to all genders. The second half of the show, ‘Howl of the Bantee’, looked more specifically at the experiences faced daily by people who identify as transgender.

Curated by Dave Pickering, he took the first half of the evening; the mansplaining part, as he delved into how he believes patriarchy not only harms women, but also harms men. His research for the show started with an anonymous survey of 1,000 men; the #ManSurvey, which can be found here.

AJ McKenna
AJ Mckenna

His show is at times funny, at times tragic and sometimes shocking, including violence, sexual assault and bullying. He uses his personal experiences growing up as he explores ideas worthy of a dissertation; men as a socially constructed concept, the social system of patriarchy and introduces the concept of ‘kyriarchy’; the more oppressive and dominating system.

The second act, ‘Howl of the Bantee’, was performed by AJ Mckenna, who took the audience on a personal journey through several spoken word pieces, focusing on her experiences growing up in a small northern town (these days a UKIP stronghold), and how being transgender fits in, or doesn’t.

There were again funny moments, but the overall tone is one of anger, with a large sprinkling of “f*** you, world”. The audience sat shocked as she reeled off the long list of transgender people murdered recently across the world. Pretty apt that Friday was also Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Dave Pickering started Stand up Tragedy as a variety night of people talking about tragic events, making audiences laugh and cry. Over the years he has increased the number of voices included, aiming to reach out to as many people as possible. Mixing storytelling, music, comedy, spoken word and fiction, he takes the idea of catharsis through sharing experiences and brings it to the stage.

“We’ve all got some really sad stuff in our lives,” he explains. “Sharing it with other people and being allowed – given permission, particularly with tonight’s show – to show emotion, is great. For men in particular to be given permission to feel emotion seems very rare.”

Stand Up Tragedy can be found on Twitter @StandUp4Tragedy and at AJ McKenna can be found @AnathemaJane.