Books & Literature

Book Review: No Apologies, by Joanne Brookfield

Women’s voices are being heard like never before and the women in comedy are claiming their space, finding their voices and telling their stories…

Brookfield provides us with an eclectic roadmap of the journey of the ladies of comedy.

Like the song says – “it’s a man’s world” – be it within corporations or the comedy circuit.

Joanne Brookfield is no stranger to either. As a journalist and a veteran of the stand-up comedy circuit, she is aware of the power of the female voice. Both in the realm of cyberspace and on the stages of the Comedy Clubs and at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the female voice is more empowered than ever.

Brookfield has taken both these skillsets and combined them to produce this informative and powerful work on the Australian Comedy landscape and the women who have shaped it over the years – as well as those who will continue to transform it for years to come.

Brookfield provides us with an eclectic roadmap of the journey of the ladies of comedy, from the pioneering work and ground-breaking early days of Wendy Harmer, Rachel Berger and Judith Lucy, onto the newer names and (some) familiar face, like Cal Wilson and Urzila Carlson.

These women open up to one of their own with a sense of security and understanding. That security brings a level of honesty about the highs and lows, some quite confronting and disheartening to read, particularly in a book about the joys of comedy and laughter.

The list of interviewees is a veritable ‘who’s who’ – balanced with a singular who? – of the Australian and International comedy scene. Some of these are referenced directly, while others are captured in frames and thought bubbles of quotation.

No Apologiesis more than just a book about female comedy. It is a recognition that, regardless of where you work or what you do, it will not be easy; you will be inclined to give up or give in; but, no matter what it is, you’re not the first, won’t be the last, and have plenty of inspiration to drive you on.

My only issue with this book comes from its layout. The thought bubbles and boxed quotes interrupt the narrative flow – sometimes not even in a direct correlation to what the core writing is discussing. Once you attune yourself to this aspect, it is a powerful piece, indeed.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: April 2019
RRP: $29.99

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