Cambridge comedians call out gender imbalance on Would I Lie to You

Will Bennett 13 January 2018

After tweeting BBC panel show Would I Lie to You every week asking ‘why only one woman?’, Ruby Keane of Stockings comedy and Cambridge Footlights has finally had a response, kicking off an explosive Twitter thread. 

Her weekly enquiry riled Claude Littner of The Apprentice earlier today who snapped back in the very early hours of the morning saying, ‘Why only bald 1 man? Why only 1 Welshman? …..’ 



Keane replied ‘ah yes the three genders: men, bald men and Welsh men’, adding shortly after, ‘and because women make up 50% of the population. Anyway thanks for retweeting me to your 68k followers and raising awareness of sexism in comedy’.  Littner was on hand again replying, ‘maybe you are just not a funny comedian, and find it convenient to bring ‘sexism’ into it!’



Comedian and Cambridge graduate Ken Cheng entered the fray saying Keane ‘would run circles around him on WILTY’ and suggesting that Littner was intimidated by her.

Keane’s Stockings comedy comrades also quickly weighed in to shut down Mr Littner’s comments.

Emma Plowright tweeted that ‘the bald man pay gap is the real issue we are all ignoring here’ and Ania Magliano-Wright added in jest that ’bald men and welsh men frequently face discrimination in comedy’.  She also commented in private that ‘I probably shouldn’t have expected anything less from a man whose book is titled ‘single minded’.’  She continued that ‘It’s a fine line between just wanting to slam them and make them look like an idiot, and trying to be patient and explain. I did a mix of both but clearly neither were going to work, so I just thought better to illuminate that these problems still exist.’

‘Although people could easily criticise us for getting into online debates with keyboard warriors who will never change their opinion, it can be a useful thing to do.’  Keane also highlighted the importance of simply drawing attention to the issue.

Littner’s latest tweet to a member of the group was a personal attack addressed to Magliano-Wright, calling her a ‘naïve and silly woman’.

Commenting on the UK's comedy scene in general, Keane remarked that it is indeed 'swarming with sexism and misogyny’.  She implied that comedy at Cambridge is blessed in comparison.

As President of the Cambridge Footlights she sent the following email to the society’s mailing List a few days ago.  ‘In 2017, Footlights made history but not for the usual reasons. We had two sold-out Lady Smokers, two sold-out BME Smokers, the cast/crew of the International Tour Show was gender-balanced, the Footlights Committee is gender-balanced, and the president and vice-president are both state-educated women. I’m not saying gender inequality in comedy is solved, because it's not. But considering that just 3 years ago, I auditioned for my first Smoker in front of 8 white men, it’s nice to see some progress.

And this progress is not an attempt to take over from men, or take any opportunities away from them. It’s about creating more space, so there can be equal opportunities for all genders.  And it matters because it affects everyone, not just women. If people from a variety of backgrounds feel encouraged to get involved in comedy if they want to, then we have more voices, more angles, and better comedy.

People have said that this is a 'golden age' for women in Cambridge comedy, but that’s not good enough because golden ages end. The idea that gender equality has peaked is scary because it implies it could just go downhill again once we all graduate. So if you’re in first year or second year, or you’re hanging around for a while, please please go out of your way to make sure this isn’t a golden age, but the new norm.’