26 September 2023

No Apologies

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Joanne Brookfield, Echo Publishing, $29.99.

Breaking down barriers, taking charge and creating change should not just be a well-deserved ideal. It should be actioned as well. It’s about women in comedy claiming their space, finding their voices and telling their stories.

It’s rare for a superhero blockbuster to inspire an otherworldly experience, but that’s what Patty Jenkins’ 2017 film Wonder Woman did for author and comedian Joanne Brookfield. In the opening chapter she describes how it felt to watch “a woman saving the world”. Wonderment emanates off the page.

“Imagine if that had always been my experience of cinema, right from the get-go, that I’d been exposed to images and narratives of women always triumphing, always invincible, rather than this anomaly so far into my adult life.”

For the Brookfield household humour was always highly valued. Having spent two decades working in the world of comedy, both as a journalist and stand-up comedian, Joanne has reported from the world’s biggest comedy festivals.

Being a stand-up comedian was simultaneously the most awesome, and yet most terrifying thing her teenage mind could imagine. She wrote about all of the arts: music, cinema, theatre, dance and circus, but it was comedy that captured “my heart and began consuming all my time.” When she got into the world of comedy, she was “hooked and gigged like a woman possessed … or obsessed, more accurately.”

As the tagline declares, No Apologies is all about “women in comedy claiming their space, finding their voices & telling their stories”. It features interviews with 60 women in comedy including trailblazers Wendy Harmer, Rachel Berger, Judith Lucy, Denise Scott, Fiona O’Loughlin and Jo Stanley.

No Apologies is about the power of women, their voices and their narratives which are being heard like never before.

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