Features

Be in it to win it

Women have never been more visible at the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. We were all over it this year with a huge array of shows and great marketing. Funny Women were a part of this presence too with many of our past Awards alumni sporting our laurels and female shows displaying their stars on posters and flyers from over 60 reviews on this site. Makes us very proud.

In addition to our own short run of Funny Women on the Fringe shows and the last semi-final of the 2019 Funny Women Awards there were other great all-female line-ups like Funny Lassies, EdinBra, The LOL Word, and FOC It Up: The Femmes of Colour Comedy Club running throughout the fest.  There’s never been a better time for women in comedy and we are proving, more than ever, that sisters truly are doing it for themselves.

When I first went to the Fringe in 2004 it was still a bit of a boys’ club but it’s where I also saw some of today’s most inspirational female performers grow and develop into today’s household names – Miranda Hart and Susan Calman, Bridget Christie and Kerry Godliman, Zoe Lyons and Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan and Sara Pascoe. It’s where I have seen amazing women from overseas too – Maria Bamford, Julia Morris, Mae Martin, Desiree Burch and many more.

Now with barely time to catch up on sleep and eat healthy food, in Funny Women land we’re already on to the next ‘big thing’ in the run up to the charity final of this year’s Funny Women Awards.  As ever, we are bringing some more amazing acts to the attention of producers, promoters and broadcasters.

Funny Women has evolved into so much more than ‘just a competition’ and I could hardly have imagined what it has now become when I had a crazy PR based idea all those years ago.  We are now a recognised platform for comedy writers, film makers, producers, bookers and content developers as well as performers.

We are aware that competing doesn’t suit everybody and there are some amazing female acts who we work with regularly who have never taken part in our Awards.  Our ethos is to promote and celebrate all women in comedy showcasing established acts and encouraging new talent into the industry.

To fulfil this remit, we run our open mic nights and take part in other events like the upcoming Women in Comedy Festival, Manchester and generalist events like the Women of the World festivals to spread the word and encourage women from all walks of life to find their voice through comedy. Not everybody performs at their best under the pressure of a competition so we provide a relaxed environment for women to develop their comedic skills.

We are always looking for new talent for our comedy shows and to work with us on our expanding workplace events.  Under our new brand HERlarious, we look for performers and facilitators to help us deliver great entertainment and training right at the heart of business where we are changing the narrative, much as we have done in the world of comedy.

So, to my point.  Either way, competition or not, you have to be in it to win it.  Letting people know what you’ve won already is a big part of this, for both the receiver and the giver. We saw some great female shows at the Fringe with our small review team, so it means a lot to us to see our name, logo and stars on your posters. ‘Thank you’ to those of you who flaunted them.

My second point is that there is so much more to Funny Women than our Awards.  Our Time of the Month and Comedy Surgery events provide a safe, creative and inclusive space for women to develop as performers, writers or creators. These are now expanding beyond our regular London events to Brighton, Bristol, Dublin, Manchester and Amsterdam, with Cambridge and Leicester launching this autumn.  This network of regional chapters is run by volunteers with back up from the core team and we are keen to launch more.

My third and final point is that comedy straddles many different formats and, as natural multi-taskers, women are good at covering all bases.  If you sit at home watching Fleabag and wishing you could write or perform comedy yourself, get involved. Network with other writers and performers and enter competitions like ours for the experience and to get your work seen.  You might not win the first time around but your chances increase if you keep trying.

For more information on upcoming events please visit our calendar here.

The charity final in partnership with the Fawcett Society take place on Thursday 19th September at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Book now.

PS on the subject of winning, Funny Women is a finalist in the Westminster Business Council Awards in the category of ‘Best business to demonstrate Diversity’.  Wish us luck when the winner is announced at the awards dinner on Tuesday 22nd October at the National Liberal Club. There’s posh for you!