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Exclusive: Dee Allum praises changing comedy scene ahead of major stand-up comedy gig

Rising talent Dee Allum spoke to HELLO! ahead of her headline act at the LGBTQ Comedy Festival

Dee Allum holding a microphone
Matthew Moore
Matthew MooreOnline News Editor
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Dee Allum is on a major upwards trajectory with the popular comedian having come from performing with the Cambridge Footlights to being nominated for Chortle's Best New Comedian and being a finalist in the 2022 BBC New Comedy Award competition.

And on Thursday, Dee is the headline act at the LGBTQ Comedy Festival in a show hosted at The Queer Comedy Club. Dee will be performing alongside comedians Jeremy Topp, Ben Pollard, Kate Dale and David Ian, and ahead of her major appearance, she sat down with HELLO! to discuss the show as well as the changing comedy scene when it comes to diversity and how it feels living as a trans woman in the UK.

Speaking about her act, Dee explained: "There's not a huge amount of representation of trans people in the media in a particularly positive light and then even less of that is of trans people representing themselves. I'd like to think that my comedy could be important in that sense, but my first priority is always to make people laugh."

The star, who names Monty Python and Stewart Lee as her comedy inspirations, is part of the forefront of the change to the comedy scene that has seen more LGBTQ+, female and Black performers step into the limelight. Dee highlighted how "valuable" it was to hear from different backgrounds when it came to comedy, highlighting old panel shows when the line-up would be entirely white, straight men.

"There's no alternative angles, obviously, there's different styles of comedy, but I think there's something about being part of different groups, that gives you a different perspective on things," she mused. "It's so valuable to have accommodated that kind of diversity."

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However, comedy can still be a dangerous place for trans people, with some comedians making the community the butt of their jokes during their shows, something that Dee hoped to counter. "I don't think there's a single trans person in the world, who has the kind of reach that Ricky Gervais or Dave Chappelle has," she said. "It's hard to be heard, in Dave Chappelle's most recent show one of his friends, who was trans, she was a big part of the show, but she was told through his perspective.

Dee Allum holding a microphone
Dee will be headlining on Thursday night

"It just just goes to show that there are so few trans comedians out there, and even fewer that are household names." She then joked: "The best way to combat it is to come and see me and provide a bit of an antidote to that kind of heteronormative sort of company."

And it's not just comedy where the trans community is being targeted, but politicians are becoming increasingly hostile towards them, with the comedian describing last year's Conservative Party leadership election as a "how much can we bash trans people competition".

Reflecting on her mood in the nation, she described it as "scary" explaining: "If you look at America at the moment, it's easy to see how they could slide down really unpleasant paths, not that it's particularly pleasant right now. I don't see any reason why we we couldn't follow them, most people in the UK don't know a trans person so the only sense they have of what trans people are like or what we want is what they're told by politicians more or less and politicians right now are not the best.

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"That's one of the things that makes these kind of inclusive comedy spaces more important, to me, at least, is that there's a space, there are lots of spaces, certainly in London, where I can go and feel a bit at home. You know, I might not feel comfortable on the train on the way there. But I feel comfortable once I get that."

She continued: "There's no guarantee that things will get better, there's always a possibility they will get worse. There has been some significant backsliding in the last four or five years and more and more people have made me feel like the middle class intelligencia don't really have my back as much as I thought they might.

"I hope that we get the respect that we deserve and that we're treated with compassion and get the healthcare that we need. I feel I'm cautious about where we're going, I think the next couple of years is very important in determining what the trajectory of where trans rights will be.

"But it was this atmosphere that had her praising the festival, explaining: "That's one of the things that make these inclusive comedy spaces more important, that there are lots of spaces, certainly in London, where I can go and feel a bit at home. I might not feel comfortable on the train on the way there, but I feel comfortable once I get there."

Dee Allum will be headlining at the Queer Comedy Club on 1 June. To find out more about the event, and get tickets, visit here.

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