Featured Artist: Hayley Sproull

FEATURED ARTIST - Hayley Sproull

Hayley Sproull will be performing her solo comedy show YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN from February 4 -7.

Hayley Sproull is tired of hearing the term female comedian.  “Why not just call us comedians?” she wonders aloud. And its true, so often comedians who, uh, happen to be female, experience their gender featured first and foremost in discussion of their work, sometimes even to a greater extent than the content of their performance itself.

“And unfortunately,” continues Sproull, “it seems like often lady comics feel like, in the face of so much focus being put on their gender - their bodies, their sexuality, their femininity, and so on, that succeeding at what they do means playing into these expectations.”

In her upcoming show YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN, which combines elements of sketch, stand-up, song and dance, pokes fun at the ridiculous hurdles faced by comics, who happen to be female, and demonstrates that being a woman in comedy “isn’t only about making period jokes”.

“Its basically a showcase of everything that doesn’t make me feel like a lady,” she explains. And indeed, from the subject of facial bleaching to parallel parks, nothing in Sproull’s repertoire seems to be the traditional fem-com fare.

Sproull began performing comedy as a drama student in Wellington. She says that her act was born out of a simple desire to perform and create work for herself.

“There wasn’t really a platform offering itself for me to play with both my mediums - music and comedy - and I realized that it was going to be up to me to carve out the niche. And so I wrote jokes and songs and created a couple characters, and it just took off from there.”

Sproull’s solo show, Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues, won Best Newcomer at the 2012 New Zealand Fringe Festival. In it she performed as Miss Fletcher, a well-meaning yet slightly unhinged substitute teacher that tries to teach music to a group of hapless pupils. Sproull also won the New Zealand Comedy Festival’s People's’ Choice Award in 2014.

In Natural Woman, however, Sproull isn’t playing a character. Instead she performs as herself, prompting us to question why we choose to perceive and perform comedy through an arbitrary gendered lens, but simultaneously offering the subject for us to laugh at.