celebrity

On Monday night, we watched Em Rusciano talk about thrush on primetime TV. More of that, please.

Last night on primetime television, a woman dressed in a rainbow unitard spoke about how, during pregnancy, a woman’s nipples transform from delicate little rosebuds into “meaty coat hooks”.

She spoke about how post-vaginal-birth sneezing can turn a tampon into a projectile.

How g-strings can “take the back stuff and put it to the front stuff” and give you bacterial vaginosis.

Watch: Em Rusciano in Rage and Rainbows. Post continues after video.

Video by Channel 10

Let’s face it, ‘bacterial vaginosis’ is not a phrase you typically hear on the telly beyond, perhaps, an episode of Embarrassing Bodies. But on Em Rusciano‘s comedy special, Rage And Rainbows, which aired on Monday night on Channel 10, the Australian comedian championed the universality in those supposedly ‘embarrassing’ parts of womanhood.

Part standup, part musical, part feminist lecture, the one-hour show centred around that quiet, tiring anger (or even just frustration) many women feel toward the world around them. Sometimes, without even knowing why.

She touched on catcalling, on the beauty industry, on pregnancy thrush, on the mental load carried by women in most households.

“My particular brand of comedy comes from a deep desire to shed light on tough topics, to explore the things we don’t normally talk about, and dissect them in such a way that my audience — who are predominately women — feel less alone and less like life may swallow them whole,” Em told Mamamia.

“I’ve done shows on divorce and miscarriage and so, when it came to talking about rage, it actually felt like a light topic, all things considered.”

She even threw in a musical number featuring 12 giant, dancing vaginas, just to make it all more palatable… which only a couple of people on Facebook got cranky about. Now, that’s called progress, doll.

Nothing says classic entertainment like a dozen velvet vulvas. Image: Facebook/Em Rusciano.
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Rage and Rainbows is part of an obvious shift happening in comedy. Well, if we're honest, in boardrooms.

TV networks, streaming services and booking agencies seem suddenly less reluctant to give the stage (literally and figuratively) to female comedians speaking the unspoken truths about themselves, their gender and the culture that so heavy-handedly shapes the two.

Iliza Shlesinger. Hannah Gadsby. Tiffany Haddish. Ali Wong. In the last few years, each has recorded a hugely popular Netflix special that has helped take their work global and, for some, springboard them into lucrative movie/TV careers.

It's not like these women became funny overnight. They've been doing the work in clubs, at festivals and crappy corporate events for years. Only now, finally, there's prime airtime (and money) on offer to those who cut through.

In Australia, though, the scene seems to still be lagging a little. On free-to-air telly at least, female stand-up comedy is still usually just a short set in a festival gala or a 'special' aired in a not-so-special midnight timeslot on one of those tacked-on digital channels that few people actually watch/seem to know exist.

But let's hope Rusciano's show signals that we're catching up.

"I think I follow a long line of outstanding female comics, who have had a disproportionate amount of opportunities compared to their male counterparts," she said.

"The fact of the matter is: women want to be represented. They want to see their issues, worries, and passions reflected in the media that they consume."

Bacterial vaginosis, and all.

Rage and Rainbows is available to stream on Ten Play.

Image: Channel 10.

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