29 February 2024

She'll be right – treat yourself this International Women's Day

| Zoe Cartwright
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woman speaking into microphone on stage

Comedian and co-founder of the She’ll Be Right variety night Malika Rees will be on the bill for the sixth anniversary performance on International Women’s Day. Photo: Malika Rees.

If you want to have a laugh while subverting the patriarchy, She’ll Be Right comedy is the place for you this International Women’s Day (8 March).

The regular feature on Wollongong’s comedy scene was kicked off by Diana McLaren and Malika Rees in 2018 after the then-newbies noticed most stand-up comedy shows had lineups that were overwhelmingly made up of men.

“We wanted a safe space for women to perform comedy, from newbies to seasoned professionals,” Malika said.

“We made it a variety show to showcase all the amazing female talent we have in the Illawarra, and right from the start we got a really loyal group of friends and followers who would come to every show.

“We’ve celebrated people of all ages and abilities, mostly comedians, with some musicians, circus, spoken-word performers and burlesque.

“After a while, we added an honorary male to the line-up to balance out the bill – that’s what it normally looks like for us!”

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The first event was on International Women’s Day 2018, and after surviving the turmoil of COVID and founder Diana’s move to Melbourne, Malika said the team behind She’ll Be Right was proud to celebrate its sixth anniversary this year.

The comedy line-up includes Lilli Rodrigues Pang, honorary man Michael Vincent, Malika Elizabeth and Susie Fagan.

Musical acts Tia Wilson, Giorgia, and Sister Act, spoken words by Ali Jane Smith and burlesque with Sassy Sapphire round out the variety portion of the night, and founder Diana will be back for the anniversary as MC and Mistress of Oversharing.

Malika said at the end of the day, funny was funny, regardless of gender.

“It’s just nice to have women joke about subjects that resonate with other women,” she said.

“It’s empowering as well. It’s hard for women to crack into comedy – just look at the lack of women talk-show hosts worldwide.

“Everyone is included, we don’t punch down on anyone and we appreciate our brothers in solidarity. Everyone is very warm towards the honorary male, although some men have found it confronting because it is an unusual position for them.”

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Malika said there were a few key ingredients to good comedy.

“Traditionally, comics are the ones who take pokes at the establishment and shed light on things that need to change, so you need to have a bit of a skewed look at life, and if you’re lucky a strong sense of commonality,” she said.

“There is an element of chemistry to it: two people can do the exact same thing and one will be hilarious and the other is woeful.

“It’s that energy, that desire to connect, and testing your material, performing it and failing and not taking yourself too seriously. I’m a single mum so I’m doing all the daggy dad jokes at home. My kids just groan.

“I think trauma can help make you funny. I started comedy after I’d been robbed, raped and run over, so I’m all for the gallows humour.

“Laughter helps us deal with trauma and grief. Once you’ve processed it and accepted it, you’ve got to laugh.”

She’ll Be Right will kick off at 7 pm on Friday, 8 March, at 6-8 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla. Tickets are $25 online: She’ll Be Right – International Women’s Day | Humanitix or for $30 at the door.

The Servo Food Truck Bar will be dishing out food and drinks, and all are welcome to grab a bite to eat and soak up the good vibes.

“There will be alcohol, but the event is pet- and kid-friendly, although your children or pets might learn something new,” Malika said.

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