On Friday, Welsh standup Jenny Collier tweeted out a screenshot of an email regarding a comedy gig she had booked in the Surrey town of Haslemere, England. The email — which didn't include the sender's address — read:
I'm really sorry but the venue have decided they don't want too many women on the bill and unfortunately we need to take you out of this one. We hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience.
Soon after Collier tweeted out the screenshot, the email went viral and currently has almost 6,000 retweets. Collier hasn't named the venue or booker for the show, but they've since been confirmed as Hemingway's of Haslemere (a coffee shop with occasional open mic and comedy nights) through booking company Mirth Control. Mirth Control's head of operations Geoff Whiting told Buzzfeed the owner of Hemingway's is "not awfully keen on women, which I've ignored, because I'm pro-female comedians." He also said that this is "probably the only time a female comic has been canceled specifically for being a female comic." Instead of pushing back against a sexist coffee shop owner, though, Whiting's team followed through with the cancellation request. "This is a pinprick in my career," he said. You don't say.
As for Collier, she celebrated International Women's Day on Saturday following all the heartfelt support and responses from the comedy community (Sarah Silverman's take on the situation: "HAHAHAHA"). Mirth Control, on the other hand, spent their International Women's Day drafting up an apology statement for failing to stand up to a sexist client. Check out an excerpt from the statement below, as well as the tweet that started it all:
UPDATE: We reached out to Collier to confirm the venue and get more information, and today she sent us the following response:
Thanks for getting in touch. Sorry about the late reply. I know, it's shocking isn't it? I didn't include the venue name as I didn't know it at the time. If I'd known there was only one club in Haselmere I would've thought twice about posting that too! I had no idea this story would go viral. I didn't set out to publicly shame the one venue, just to highlight how accepted this attitude is by the fact that people feel comfortable enough to put it down in writing.
From Mirth Control's statement:
We would also like to apologise to the female comic for the email she received from our team who was expressing the view of the client unedited and perhaps a little too frankly and was inappropriate in our view in it's wording. It is true that the email fairly reflected the desire of the client for less women to appear on upcoming shows but it did not offer an alternative booking at the venue on a different date, or alternatively a booking at a different club on a different date to make up for this loss of stage time and this was wrong and not in keeping with our general way of operating. She will be offered a large number of gig opportunities by us at a range of other comedy clubs immediately in order to redress this oversight.
Click here for the full statement from Mirth Control.