Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Written by: Tony Pitts
Produced by: Kevin Proctor, Mark Vennis
Composer: Richard Hawley
Starring: Maxine Peake, Paddy Considine, Stephen Graham, Tony Pitts, Alun Armstrong, Kevin Eldon, Christine Bottomley, Lindsey Coulson, Macy Shackleton, Hebe Beardsall, Kevin Rowland and Richard Hawley.
Seeing the title and hearing the song, Funny Cow, my reaction was defensive. Being called a Funny Cow is not a compliment.
But growing up in Bradfield during the 80s, being called a Funny Cow is about the best a female comedian can hope for because, ‘unstable bitches aren’t tolerated in the pack’.
Opening to ‘Funny Cow’ (Maxine Peake) on stage, famous now, she reminisces about her past: her father (Stephen Graham) a great communicator with his fists; her mother (Christine Bottomley as younger mum, Lindsey Coulson as older mum), an alcoholic.
After sending her father off with a, ‘goodbye you miserable bastard’, she meets her husband, Bob (Tony Pitts), where the cycle starts all over again.
Sometimes life is so bad it’s funny.
The film follows Funny Cow through her life, surviving not because of a backbone but because of her funnybone.
Funny Cow is raw, written by Tony Pitts (also starring) with truth and an extraordinary performance from Maxine Peake. The times of the working men’s clubs during the 70s and 80s captured so well it felt like the story was based on an autobiography.
What makes the film so interesting is the poignant moments, to see behind the veil, to see the truth.
Being an outcast is tough.
Trying to be a female comedian, to stand-up in front of those audiences is even tougher, particularly when the threat of a broken nose is waiting for you at home.
Director Adrian Shergold pieces together a life over four decades. Looking back the film shows Funny Cow walking past her younger self contrasting her new polished self, driving a red sports car, with the mud and poverty of her younger years: if only we could tell that young girl, the one we used to be, that everything will turn out okay.
We can be who we pretend to be and die, or we can hold onto the truth and live. That’s the message I got. Being able to laugh at life when it’s at its worst takes the bravest person.
The character, Funny Cow, is so relatable that I can say she’d be the last person to want to be an inspiration, describing herself as a monster. Adding to the legend that all great comedians are depressives: to see life, to live it and see the truth of it and be able to share that truth with an audience takes talent.
But this isn’t a comedy. Funny Cow is the journey taken to become a comedian, with all the good and bad shown with a rare honesty.
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