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Dragons can be funny

By Rachel RobbinsPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 3 min read
Miranda Richardson as the formidable Queenie in Blackadder II

Queen Elizabeth: Oh, Edmund... I do love it when you get cross. Sometimes I think about having you executed just to see the expression on your face.

I know that choosing to write about character from a 1980’s British comedy, might seem, well niche, but bear with me.

My beautiful mother - Cath Robbins 1937 - 2020

Mum was dying and the world was going into lock down. And I wrote my first creative writing in years about riding a dragon powered by fury.

“Sure,” I wrote, “sometimes it flies into dark walls.”

But mainly that dragon kept me soaring high, so I could see who I wanted to spit on and where to breathe fire.

It let me laugh at the ludicrous sight of a socially-distanced funeral. Three sisters obeying rules to have our grief shat upon by a lying government advisor. That fury dragon kept a spark going, so that I never forgot that empty room crying at a large life. I can never forget clapping for carers to have them be blamed for leaders’ failures. I can never forget my year 10 daughter being expected to play Guinea pig whilst others worked safe behind a screen.

It was a wild ride.

But when the fury ran out, I needed a new dragon.

Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder meeting Queenie

So this is for the ferociously funny women I have met through stand-up comedy.

There are too many to list – I hope they know who they are – the mentors, the colleagues, the role models. (I will tag them all on social media). I found stand-up comedy as a retort to grief. And it was a band of women who coached me, taught me, encouraged me and laughed with me, that got me onto a stage with a microphone, swearing at strangers.

Me doing stand up

Being a funny woman in middle-age, is fraught with complications. I didn’t have a list of role models to look to. Of course, women have been funny on our screens for years. But the parameters of comedy for women can be narrow and suffocating. We are often the butt of the joke, being chased half-naked by a balding man. Or we are the chubby sidekick, mocked for our size by ourselves and others.

But then there was a queen.

A fabulously cruel, powerful, red-headed queen. My dragon-lady.

Queenie with Patsy Byrne as Nursey

Dragons are magical, legendary creatures, winged, horned, fire-breathing. Beautiful but difficult. They have a deadly glance. They are sharp eyed and expect loyalty. I live in a country that celebrates St George’s Day, a festival of masculinity which slays the difficult, misunderstood dragon.

But no-one puts Queenie in the corner.

If you have never seen Black Adder II, let me explain the premise. Blackadder is a a conniving, snivelling, cynical courtier in the Tudor court of a capricious queen. He needs to be quick to avoid execution from the playful and domineering Queen Elizabeth I.

Queenie is my dragon, my faithful, ferocious comedy mentor. She is demanding, childish and powerful. And that is how I feel on stage. I flirt with the audience, and demand they laugh at my jokes. I am capricious and cynical. And I do it, because Queenie is by my side.

Nervous before I go on stage, once I have the microphone in my hand I am in charge.

Queen Elizabeth: I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman. But I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant.

Talk like a pirate day with Queenie and Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett

My job becomes to make the audience laugh. And the audience’s job – well, is just to fall in love with me a little bit.

Flirting with the audience - yes I do have the prettiest nose.

I can only do this because of the women I have met on my way. This is a great big thank you to all those women I have performed with on the rare occasion that more than one woman is allowed on the bill. You are all glorious and fabulous in your own multitudes of ways.

The female comedy troupe is a small but growing army.

And you had better learn to laugh with us. Or else.

Queen Elizabeth: First I'm going to have a little drinkie, and then I'm going to execute the whole bally lot of you.

Where's my pressie?


About the Creator

Rachel Robbins

Writer-Performer based in the North of England. A joyous, flawed mess.

Please read my stories and enjoy. And if you can, please leave a tip. Money raised will be used towards funding a one-woman story-telling, comedy show.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (5)

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    This is wonderful, and quite funny. Well done. Oh, and I loved Black Adder.

  • "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is a favorite of ours. And where would we be without Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, & Taylor Tomlinson, just to name a few. Now I need to add you to my list. When will I ever find the time?

  • I loved Queenie, then there's the lipsticked dragon in Shrek as will. Thank you for sharing this

  • Andy Potts3 months ago

    Loved a bit of Queenie. And all the Blackadders were so well written. Still stand up today, unlike a lot of the comedy I watched in the 80s.

  • Excellent story! 💜 Sending positive vibes for your comedy performances.

Rachel RobbinsWritten by Rachel Robbins

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