Fall Girl in the Edinburgh Festival – AN ARTICLE

Have you ever been scammed? You must have. No? Ever thought you’d made a really good deal only to find out it’s quite the opposite? Or worse still, have a vague inkling that something isn’t right, that you may be part of a con, but in the face of smiling, cajoling strangers you find yourself going along with it anyway?

This is one of the themes of our show Fall Girl (currently showing at the Gilded Balloon at 1.45). We arrived into Edinburgh a few days ago and in the lead up to the show have been asking people round the city to share with us times when they have been scammed. Lots of people have been scammed. Some people haven’t but I am convinced THEY ARE HIDING SOMETHING.

I would like to tell you I am an utterly original writer and the idea of falling for a con is complete fiction because I am a terribly savvy, street-wise kind of lady, but this would be a fib of epic proportions. But they do say write what you know, and sadly, this I know.

I’ve been ‘had’ often, and I come from a large family and together we are one big gullible target. My sister, who emailed all her bank details when ‘her bank’ emailed her it would be shut down if she didn’t, my mum who ended paying a fortune to have her drive tarmacked by a stranger who was ‘just passing’. Or my cousin who lost his phone and was overjoyed when someone answered it.

“Thank god!” he said, “I thought it had been stolen! Can I meet you to get it?”

“Well,” said the man on the other end, “I’m going away but if you ring me in 2 weeks, I’ll give it to you then.”

In 2 weeks my cousin rang but couldn’t get through. I’ll leave it a few days he thought. A friend told him this was a bad idea so he rang his phone company. He had been hit with a £8,000 phone bill and the phone company refused to cover any of it because who could be that gullible?

I would like to share more about my family’s tragic propensity for getting scammed but I can’t for legal reasons.

And me? Well some of it has seeped into the show. When I was 18 I got ‘scouted’. Yes! I thought! I may be only 5’5 and a little chubby but perhaps I am ‘that face!’ They took my photo and said they’d get in touch if head office approved. A few weeks later Head office approved! Yes!

“Do you want to be a model?” the guy said over the phone.

“No” I admitted, “but I do want to be an actress” (so he didn’t feel bad)

“That’s great! Tons of models go into acting!”

“Hurrah!”

“All you have to do is pay the modelling costs but you’ll get it back as soon as you get your first job no probs”

“Ah…”

“Rosie, listen to me, are you the kind of gal who never likes to try anything new? As an actress, you have to be willing to jump into things, be spontaneous am I right? Or am I right?”

“Oh…yeah..”

I lost £300. They never called again.

Rosie is scammed again...
Rosie is scammed again…

Fall Girl is showing at the Gilded Balloon until August 25th at 1.45pm

@RosieisaHolt

Fall Girl – AN ARTICLE

Last year, after months of rewrites and nerves being stretched and tested, my short comedy piece, ‘Never Better’ won The Sitcom Trials: So You Think You Write Funny? at the Gilded Balloon.

The piece centred on a character I created called Hayley. Hayley is gullible, insecure and eager to please. In awkward situations she panics and makes rash decisions with catastrophic results.

I am performing a comedy show, Fall Girl, about Hayley at the Gilded Balloon for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

The idea for the character came 3 years ago when a disastrous one night stand left me reeling and I decided to make a comedy sketch out of it (as you do.)

It was a pretty masochistic exercise but ultimately, empowering. In my early twenties, most of my romantic exploits ended in eye-gouging humiliation. While reading Hadley Freeman’s book Be Awesome, I was pleased to see that this was not a singularly Rosie Holt experience. Freeman noted that many women internalise the message to “appeal to all, especially men, and male validation is the only validation that really matters” and that sometimes it makes them act in a way that can be interpreted as a bit mental.

So where on TV were all the crazy, insecure, needy BUT intelligent and strong women?

Please don’t say Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction.

Comedy history is populated with flawed, self-loathing and insecure men – Basil Fawlty, David Brent, Blackadder (First Series) to name but a few. With Dennis Kelly’s & Sharon Horgan’s marvellous Pulling being one of a handful of exceptions (this was pre-Girls) complicated and comically flawed women were harder to find.
In my youth (and still remaining today, like a bad smell) there was a rash of calm, sarcastic, ‘grown-up’ women on TV, presented as foil to lovable flawed men. These women rolled their eyes and went “oh those men! They are so annoying yet great!” They offered wise platitudes and nodded their heads in a knowing way.

WHO WERE THESE WOMEN? I didn’t know any women like that apart from my Year7 Maths Teacher.

Comedy is all about presenting people’s flaws. It’s reassuring. It makes us laugh with relief.

It is not very reassuring for women when they see a comedy with a flawed loveable man but a straight dependable woman. Like that horrible, horrible poster for ‘Grown-ups 2’ (starring Adam Sandler, continuing to wreak punishment on those who thought he was great in The Wedding Singer.) If you haven’t seen it, google it. Now. It’s frightful. All the men in the poster are having fun while the women look disapproving and roll their eyes. “Silly men!”

I repeat, WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?!

Now with Girls and Drifters, women in comedy are changing (thank god). Yet it continues to trouble me that there remains a very prescriptive idea of how we should portray women in comedy, especially ‘flawed’ women. Miranda may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but is it really misogynist? Really?! Because she’s clumsy? Wasn’t Mr Bean clumsy? I didn’t see any journalist adopting an earnest tone to claim the Mr Bean was bad for men’s image.

I read an article in a feminist magazine recently that made my blood boil. It criticised Drifters, it criticised Miranda, saying when were we going to portray women in the right way. But what’s wrong with showing that women like men can be childish, clumsy and indecisive. Why do we have to attack it just because they are not having dark demeaning sex by the credits? Can’t we be a bit more inclusive? Can’t we have a range of different women in comedy like we have a range of different men?

So yeah, see my show about a well-meaning, insecure, gullible girl who also likes weird sex. Come see that.

Fall Girl is showing at The Gilded Balloon Teviot in August 2014 at 13:45.
Follow Rosie on twitter @RosieisaHolt