Funny Women was born out of a confrontation with a misogynist comedy promoter. When our founder Lynne Parker quizzed him on why women were so under-represented on the live comedy circuit, the promoter told her that ‘women aren’t funny’ and there are ‘no funny women’. The rest is history!
18 years on and we are still on a mission to ensure that talented, funny, and inspirational women with strong humorous voices are given valid platforms to entertain, write, educate, campaign and inform. We are empowering women to ‘stand up to stand out’ both professionally and personally.
Many of you know us from the Funny Women Awards, first launched in 2003, and over 4,000 women have taken part in 17 competitions. Our Awards are free to enter with categories for performance, writing, short film, best show, best web series and an industry award for comedy writing. We have changed the face of female comedy at grassroots level and we continue to provide a valuable platform for new and unrepresented talent.
2020 has been devastating for those of us in the entertainment and live events industry. Like many others, our community has faced an uncertain and very shaky future this year. Where we have previously relied on the beneficence of brand partnerships and box office income to cover our production costs for the Funny Women Awards so that they remain free to enter, there was nothing to fall back on this year.
So, going in feet first and holding our noses, we took a leap of faith and borrowed enough money to keep the Awards going into 2020. Everybody on our team made sacrifices by either offering to volunteer or taking pay cuts because we believe in what we do and we are all passionate about comedy.
The result has been amazing. We have taken everything online – the 2020 Funny Women Awards and a series of events all ticketed on a ‘pay what you want’ donation basis – and used the virtual space to introduce Comedy Crash Courses and online workshops that have generated vital income and attracted participants from all over the world.
The challenges for us financially don’t stop as we go into 2021. Despite being recipients of a grant from the DCMS ACE Culture Recovery Fund we need to be sustainable in the longer term. We welcome industry partnerships to support the Awards, such as we have with Sky Studios, NextUp and Comedy 50:50 but these don’t pay all the bills. We also invest annually in showcasing new talent at festivals, producing regular shows and running outreach events. There is a constant drain on our limited resources and, with little or no box office income this year, we are up against it.
Many of you will be aware that we work in the corporate sector under our HERlarious brand. This is a major benefit to our community as while we are generating income to support our outreach and Awards, we are also employing many of the brilliant performers, writers and creators we meet on the comedy circuit. We are proud of our reputation to deliver great workplace events to entertain, empower and inform.
In 2014 we launched Funny Friends as a way of generating ‘emergency’ funding when we needed it most. We are very grateful to all those of you who contributed and trust that you will support our new initiative and help us create a bigger more global community.
We have now set up a Patreon page as a sustainable platform for your patronage. Your donations will go towards supporting and growing our community, both economically and geographically. Additional funding will enable us to offer our events and services more widely and to individuals, communities, charities and organisations whose resources are limited.
Entry point is a small virtual hug of an annual donation, £15, and for those of you who want a bit more, £100 a year buys you a free workshop, a limited edition Funny Women T-shirt and lots of deals and discounts. If you want to be one of a limited number of ‘super supporters’ and donate £250 annually, then we will bestow upon you an incredible array of merchandise, exclusive events, advice and access.
We want to make the switch from our Funny Friends scheme to Patreon membership an easy affair, so please keep an eye on your inbox for a special newsletter explaining our plans if you are an existing Funny Friend.
In the meantime, please check out all the details here and we look forward to welcoming you to our community.