Bethany Black is a stand up comedienne from Manchester, England. Described as "Britain's only goth, lesbian, transsexual comedian", Black is known for performing "black comedy", dealing with controversial subjects.
Black was born biologically male, and had a troubled childhood, suffering from depression. Black had a nervous breakdown, attempted suicide on several occasions, and then came out to her family twice: first as a transwoman, and then as a lesbian. Black underwent sex reassignment surgery to become anatomically female.
Originally, she was hesitant about entering stand-up because she felt that the best comedians were older people. However, Black changed her mind after seeing Josie Long, someone younger than her, perform successfully while using material similar to her own. At the age of 25 she started her career, first as a Master of Ceremonies for a music club in Preston called "Club Fuzzy", where she provided comedy between the music acts. After a hostile reaction, she then began performing in actual comedy clubs. Black adopted a "Fairy Gothmother" style, performing her routines dressed in black, with black eye shadow and sometimes wearing fetish clothing. Most of her comedy is a combination of observational comedy mixed with innuendo.
Her career grew when in 2005 she opened the Manchester Pride festival. She also became a supporting act for other comedians such as Mick Miller and attracted positive reviews from other comedians such as Brendon Burns. In 2007, she became a finalist in the Chortle Student Comedy Awards. In 2008, Black started performing her show "Beth Becomes Her", which tells the story of Black's childhood. She had previously resisted performing material about her life story for fear of how her audience would react. However, the show went down well with most of the audience. One woman in the audience enjoyed the show so much that she became Black's girlfriend and the show was also nominated for an award at the "Best Debut" prize at the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Black reached the final of "2006 Funny Bones New Comedian of the Year" competition, the Chortle Student Comedy Awards in 2007, and was nominated for the "Best Debut" award at the Leicester Comedy Festival in 2008.
Many critics believe that Black will be a successful comedian in the future, although her act has been criticized. The U.K. Comedy Guide Chortle.co.uk wrote in October 2006 that "Bethany's by no means the finished product, remaining entertaining rather than a must-see, but she seems to be in possession of all the comic tools it'll take to get her there – most crucially a sharp tongue and an engaging personality you'd like to hear more from."
Yve Ngoo from BBC Tyne said in November 2006 that, "A seductively intriguing cross between Marilyn Manson and Coronation Street's Hayley Cropper (I'm alluding to ambiguous androgyny), Bethany's material is as black as her eye shadow and her delivery as dead-pan as a Goth at a garden centre."
In July 2007, Paul Jameson from BBC Tees wrote that, "New to the comedy circuit, Bethany strikes a sullen and almost apologetic presence on stage, and her comedy matches her appearance. She appears to not have quite decided whether to base her act on ridiculing suicidal Goths, or actually court the idea that she is one! This all resulted in a rather confusing set without much continuity. However, saying that, she did raise a number of laughs throughout her set and I'm sure with more experience and some polishing of her persona, she could be a lot better."
- Radcliffe, Allan (2008-02-28). Glasgow Comedy Festival - Lesbian comedians. The List. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Pegg, Warren. "Bethany Black, Komedia, Brighton, June 27", The Argus, 2008-06-25. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Bethany. Comedy CV. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Bethany Black. Chortle.co.uk (October 2006). Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Chortle Student Comedy Awards 2007: Watch the Edinburgh Final. Chortle.co.uk. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Ngoo, Yve (2006-11-13). Funny Bones Grand Final: Don't make me larf!. BBC Tyne. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
- Jameson, Paul (2007-07-03). A tricky bit of comedy. BBC Tees.
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