Smack The Pony was a British sketch comedy show that ran from 1999 to 2003. It’s main cast included Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan and Sally Phillips. The show as pitched as “female oriented” comedy which, at the time, was relatively rare. The sketches were typically short, sometimes surreal or awkward and often relied on sending up feminine stereotypes.
It’s fair to say that Smack The Pony brought a female gaze to sketch comedy. Viewers were invited to identify with the female characters. Often the situations depicted were female-oriented or occurred in places familiar to women such as women’s change rooms or hairdressing salons. Viewers were invited to judge men from a female point of view yet the series most commonly sent up women themselves. This was done in a spirit of recognition rather than criticism.
The program didn’t hesitate to admire or even objectify the male body. The most well-known example of this is the “Window Cleaner” sketch featured above, in which women at a salon are distracted by a beefy man squeegeeing soap off the window. Slowly he reveals more and more flesh… and a large bulge in his pants. The unexpected ending means the whole sketch is both a parody of “what women want” and a validation of women’s desires. The first series also featured a recurring sketch where a naked man appeared without warning causing women to faint.
Full episodes of the series are currently available on Youtube thanks to Channel 4. The very first episode (below) is the one with the Window Cleaner sketch.
The series was created by Victoria Pile and the cast was almost all female. It ran for three seasons and had a regular audience of around 2.5 million viewers. In 2021 Sally Philips told Metro she wanted to reboot the series but the idea was rejected by broadcasters.